How difficult it is to find children's novels that are actually well-written, in a language that is not dumbed-down. Elizabeth Goudge's prose is truly beautiful. Her ability to paint a picture with words is refreshing and satisfying, and her writing most certainly draws the reader in -- one can't put the book down because one simply MUST know what happens to little Maria!
The story falls short not in the writing but in the actual content. Throughout the book, it is clear that Maria's every decision is made beforehand -- from the clothing that is mysteriously laid out for her in the morning to her trip to the castle of the Wicked Men. It is as though she is merely reading a script -- not boldly adventuring forth to seek her destiny. Perhaps the stunning writing of Ms. Goudge sets the reader up for a more complex, less predicatable storyline. In any case, I found myself sorely disappointed in the tale, while completely satisfied with the writing.
Why 4 stars then? There is great value in a well-written book, and compared to much of what is out there today, The Little White Horse shines. My nine-year-old daughter absolutely loved it -- and she is our resident Bookworm.
Borrow this book from the library before you invest in a copy. If your daughter's eyes are sparkling after she reads it, then by all means, grace your bookshelf with this novel. There are far worse choices out there.