REVIEW: Ariel’s Journey by Doug Kane and Christy Wood

Teen aged girls who love “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”, “Chronicles of Narnia” and “Stardust” will LOVE “Ariel’s Journey” as the book combines the love of horses, adventure, fantasy, romance and the trials of teenage life in one power-packed read.

Five very different young women sent to the woods to learn about Icelandic horses; beautiful, fluffy, stocky horses with an uncanny ability to survive harsh climates and dangerous terrain. But this summer camping trip reveals their true power – the horses and their young riders travel centuries into the past to save the village of their ancestors.

I found the character development R-E-A-L-L-Y slow since the action began at around page 70 when the five girls are “forced” to go on an adventure trail ride to mend their differences and whoosh! they ride into Iceland circa 1208.

They also find their horses talking to them, initially through the spoken word and later, through telepathy, which is any horse lover’s dream come true.

As the lead horse, Prinsessa, explains the nature of the quest, what began as a teenaged version of “My Little Pony and Friends” started to feel like Neil Gaiman’s “Star Dust”!

This is my favourite part of the book – the horses’ individual personalities emerge and finally, Ariel the horse and title character, starts playing her key role together with her rider, Laura, my favourite character, although the book focuses on Kim and Emily Miller, the Ice horses farm’s owner’s daughters.

The girls are soon introduced to Chieftain Arnthor, of Holar, the village under threat, whose daughter, Gigja, is kidnapped by his enemy, Chieftain Siklingur, of Akureyri.

The cute boy, Reynur, FINALLY shows up on page 105 (!) and then the pace REALLY picks up when the young female warriors plot, strategize and launch their plan of attack on Siklingur…

I enjoyed reading “Ariel’s Journey” because the story of three 14 year old and two 12 year old girls transported to medieval Iceland to battle an evil chieftain made the book quite a nail-biting read!

When the sweet romance between 21st century Laura and 13th century Reynur sparked off, I think I tingled like a teenager too LOL

Also, I found the Icelandic horses really interesting as I was only aware of Arabian breeds previously. It’s also useful that Doug Kane (who actually owns an Icelandic horse farm in Ohio) through the Millers, weaves in a more natural approach to stable management.

A self-confessed “greenie”, I’m impressed at how Doug Kane and Christy Wood cleverly include the impact of climate change on crops and the natural environment on the lives of medieval Iceland, which I feel is a fantastic way of highlighting to the younger generation this urgent issue affecting countries all over the world.

Reading the book, I had several funny moments especially in the dialogue between the characters – at times, their language reflected the 13th century but at others, I found the medieval characters using teenaged American expressions too!

Lastly, I find it ironic that ALL the characters are Caucasian teenaged girls – doesn’t it make sense to introduce multicultural characters when the authors wanted to emphasize that even though the Icelandic horses looked different from typical equestrian horses, they were just as good or were even better?

In any case, Book 2: Prinsessa’s Mission (launching in April 2009) sees the girls returning to Holar for another quest and this time, a new girl, Erica goes along. Until the book is released, I have 2 burning questions:

1. Will Laura and Reynur pick up where they left off?
2. Is Erica white too? If not, how will she fare in 13th century fair-skinned, blonde and blue-eyed Iceland?

I can’t wait to read the next book!

[rating: 3.5/5]

Until then, get a copy of “Ariel’s Journey”:

Ariel’s Journey by Doug Kane and Christy Wood
ISBN: 978-0981723402