The White Horse trick is set in Ireland in the late 21st century. Earth has become a dark and desolate place where climate change has ravaged the land and virtually nothing grows. Power has all but run out by man’s greed for fuel and consumerism and mankind has all but given up on itself.
But there is hope in the form of Tir na n’Og, a land through the ‘time skin’ where fairies, leprechauns and other magical creatures live. Here the land is lush and green and people are happy and contented.
Jenny Liddy, the main character of the book, is a changeling adopted by a mortal family but now living in Tir na n’Og with both her natural and adopted parents. However, her idyllic life changes when a desperate warlord sends refugees through the time skin in search of food and supplies, because unfortunately the warlord back in Ireland is also called Liddy.
From the opening chapter, where a boy called Billy is brutally snatched from his mother’s arms, the book is dark and brooding. You get the sense of a very cold and desperate land which I am sure is all down to Kate Thompson’s superb, descriptive writing. But it’s not all doom and gloom, there is balance and some funny moments.
It is a book that makes you stop and think as you are reading it, in particular about climate change – if humans carry on using the worlds resources like they are, what will the world be like in a 100 years’ time? Have we left it too late to change? You find yourself asking these things when faced with the stark view of the world in The White Horse Trick. It also touches on the subject of asylum seeking and immigration but not in a heavy way.
My only criticism of the book is that the chapters are short and tend to be distracting as you are flipped from one world to another and from scene to scene in quick succession. I am not sure how younger readers would follow it so smoothly. I did also find that not having read the first two books in the trilogy did hamper me somewhat and things were referred to that I had no knowledge of.
There is a surprise at the end that will make you go ‘whoa’ and stop you in your tracks but it is very clever and well written and really does open your mind.
Overall the book is wonderfully written and if it makes a young reader stop and think for a moment about the beautiful world we have and vow to help preserve it, what more could you ask?
Review by UKPL member Zerosugar.