Reviewed by Kulsuma from Sunshine and Stardust
This is the first book that I have read by Marcus Sedgwick and I was impressed with the world he created. The story focuses on Sigurd who finds a small girl living in the caves with wolves not too far from his village, Storn. Due to her continuous silence, he decides to name her Mouse and treats her like a sister after she is adopted by his family. The bond of affection grows between them throughout the passing years and while Mouse is glad to have a brother, Sigurd grows to love her.
When Sigurd and Mouse find a mysterious box on the beach, they take it back to their village, unaware that the owner of the box is lying unconscious nearby and oblivious of the evil that is about to befall them. Storn is running out of food and as the crops are failing, tensions are running high. But then things turn from bad to worse as rumours spread that The Dark Horse are approaching.
The most striking aspect of The Dark Horse was the magical atmosphere that Sedgwick was able to create in such a small amount of space. It was full of mystery, action and suspense, yet narrated in an enchanting way. I felt like I was hearing this story around a campfire which made it even better. The narrative is split between two points of view; Sigurd and the narrator. At first this was jarring; however, as the narrative threads converged it seemed natural.
Sigurd was a great character. This was his coming-of-age story and I hoped he would prove himself to be worthy of the position he finds himself in as the story reaches its climax. However, events happened too quickly at the end of the novel and though Sigurd tried to stay in control of the situation, I did not agree with some of the decisions he made.
Mouse remains a mysterious character. I thought she was a highly interesting girl with untapped potential. She had a brilliant power; she could communicate with animals. It would have been fantastic if Sedgwick had explored Mouse’s power in greater detail. As well as this, the box’s power needed to be explained in greater detail. Throughout the novel, I wondered what the title could possibly mean and when I did find out, I felt slightly let down. I was expecting something more awe-inspiring.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Dark Horse and I will be reading more of Marcus Sedgwick’s books in future such as My Swordhand Is Singing and Revolver. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy, history and adventure. Also, if you liked Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, you are sure to like this.
I'm intrigued, thank you Kulsuma!