Book review: Smiley’s Secret World The Mares of Merryland Chase
Author: Flora May
Genre: Short Chapter Book
Cover Illustration: FrinaArt
Although Smiley is barely 9 years-old, she has the confidence and intelligence of someone much older, who can see through the sinister Regents that rule her fantastical land, Mirrandia. The story has the feel of Coraline by Neil Gaiman with the sinister ‘parents’ Coraline meets when she goes beyond the closed door. The Regents felt that creepy, but they work well in the place of antagonists.
Smiley uses clever psychology on them as well as on the narky Mares of Merryland Chase and it seems to work. The Mares finally accept her and allow her to feed, groom and walk them, while the Regents realise the Most High Hilaria has, indeed, returned and therefore, heralds future changes—for them as rulers.
The story has scope for several more books, since Smiley has to set in order six tasks to prove herself as the Most High Hilaria of Mirrandia and only one task was solved at this book’s end. Children aged 8 and over who love stories about magic horses in an extraordinary world will certainly enjoy this story.