I've been thinking hard about how to word this post to convey how strongly I feel about THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL, my debut middle grade novel, which comes out in October, and about its beautiful cover, which you'll see below. My feelings for the book and for the cover are wrapped up together so tightly that I can't really separate the two, and that is a credit to the illustrator, Dan Burgess, and the cover designer, Kate Gartner at Delacorte/Random House, who were able to take a story that means a great deal to me and give it a cover that captures my complex feelings for this book in this single, striking, powerful image.

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I love the contrast of the dark horse silhouette and the light horse; the moon, which is relevant to the story; the magical connection between girl and horse. I've gotten a glimpse at Dan Burgess's interior illustrations as well, a silhouette-like style that feels both classic and modern at the same time. And to go with the cover, here is the full description:

A contemporary masterpiece in the vein of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, this stark, beautifully written story about a girl and the winged horses she sees will be cherished as a beloved classic for years to come.
There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own. 

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?

Though the book doesn't come out until October 11, Random House has advanced reader copies that it will soon start passing along to booksellers and educators. I'm fortunate to have received a few copies, and the book looks simply gorgeous. 


Onto the fun part: Are you a teacher or librarian (preferably grades 5-8) who loves classic children's literature? I'm going to give away three ARCs to educators. Email a request for an ARC to by Friday, January 22, and I will pick three educators to receive early copies!