Will she find the last horses on earth?
Serendipity lives inside a walled city. Before her mother died, she gave Seren an old figurine of a horse. Horses no longer exist in Serendipity’s world, but when she discovers a map that may lead her to real horses, she starts on a journey that will take her far from everything she knows. Traveling with an orphan boy, Tab, and his beloved dog, she’s soon on the run from a powerful and dangerous man who will do anything to make sure Serendipity never leaves the walled city again.
From School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Serendipity lives in a dystopian walled city, Lahn Dan (formerly London), where only three classes exist: the Pbs (lead), Cus (silver), and Aus (gold). Having just lost her mother, Serendipity jumps at the chance to work with Professor Nimbus as a Cus storyteller. But things take a strange turn when she meets Miss Caritas, who helps Serendipity open the locket from her mother. Inside the locket she discovers a map that leads outside the wall around the city and purports to show where horses can be found. Serendipity is skeptical, as she has been told her entire life that horses, as well as the whole world outside the wall, were destroyed by deadly gases. But she does not want to spend her life as a Pbs, or even a Cus. She soon meets Tab and his dog, Mouse. Everything changes once Serendipity and Tab get outside the city, and she struggles to make sense of it all while searching for the horses and trying to avoid the Minister’s men who seek to return her to Lahn Dan. The awkward dialect and wording that Serendipity uses to tell her story take some getting used to (words such as amazering, for example), but this makes for a slightly dark tale that’s appropriate for middle grade readers. VERDICT A general purchase where middle grade dystopias are in demand.—Heidi Grange, Summit Elementary School, Smithfield, UT
“In this densely plotted dystopian novel, newly orphaned 12-year-old Serendipity sets out in search of supposedly extinct horses. …Bethell’s inventive heroine propels an action-packed adventure.”–Publishers Weekly
“Bethell turns all the old formulas on their head…. As with all good fantasy, there is a strong requisite of reality…the narrative is driven by the skillfully articulated sentiments of a horse-obsessed girl.”–The Telegraph (U.K.), five stars
“Inside the walled city of Lahn Dan, Serendipity and her mother live as Pbs, the lowest of the city’s three castes. When Serendipity’s mother dies, she leaves Serendipity a figurine of a horse, an animal that has long been extinct in the world. Soon, she learns more about her mother’s history and discovers a map that might lead to horses. …This debut offers up a solid dose of middle-grade adventure.”–Booklist