by Luanne Armstrong
Great Plains Teen Fiction
Morven and the Horse Clan, by Luanne Armstrong, is the account of young Morven, the girl whose independence and passion for animals set her apart from her people. Morven was raised as a member of her mother’s clan, but has never felt obligated to the chores and work required of most young women in her tribe. Instead, Morven relishes time alone, where only her beloved animals are company in the great wilderness.
As an incredible drought pushes her tribe deeper and deeper into the untamed Kazakhstan wilds, Morven continues to feel unaccepted by her people, until they make camp in a small mountain oasis, where she hopes to find refuge. There, she discovers a band of wild, frightened horses that are just as desperate to survive as her own people are. Gradually, Morven begins to tame the creatures, earning their trust and learning to understand their hidden ways. Though her people are at first skeptical, she soon brings them to understand the value in her newly-found friends, and slowly they begin to appreciate the horses in the way she has come to love them.
Not all people can accept the new creatures so easily, however. As Morven’s tribe travels farther into the dry wasteland they had once called home, they encounter new civilizations and cultures that are groping for survival as the land around them withers. While one is curious and hospitable, the other has adopted strange, possessive ways that are frightening for Morven’s people. It isn’t long before they, too, desire to have power over horses, but it is clear that their ambition is not only to survive, but to conquer. Morven is placed in a leadership role as this new, power-hungry civilization becomes more aggressive, and she is forced to make a decision that will determine the fate of her people: protect her horses, or protect her friends.
Morven and the Horse Clan is a unique and intriguing story, filled with turmoil and themes of isolation, survival, and ultimately, love. The transition Morven endures from a lone castoff to a respected leader truly gives this novel depth, and kept me reading for a conclusion. I enjoyed the element of battle that occurred within Morven, between her feelings, rather than between physical enemies, as it was a more unique read than a typical action novel. The depth and culture within this story have earned it, in my own opinion, seven stars out of ten, and I would recommend it to any vigorous reader that enjoys books full of symbolism and change.
Thank you to Luanne Armstrong for her wonderful book!