Fifteen-year-old Tirza and her twin brother, Tracell, are the eldest children of Lord and Lady Eircelly. Lady Eircelly is much admired in the household as well as the surrounding village not only for her kind, resourceful ways, but also for her skills, enhanced by the crystals she wears, at foretelling the future - and being prepared for it.
At a time when Tirza thought she'd be getting ready for her long-awaited 16th birthday celebration, the country is suddenly beset by war. Her father leaves with every able-bodied man and horse, to join the other troops and fight the enemy attackers. When the village burns down, everyone comes to the manor house; with a house full of scores of wounded, homeless people, the importance of any sort of coming 0f age celebration recedes.
Tirza's brother, in the absence of his father, rides his outgrown pony around the area, helping fight the attackers and take care of the villagers. All he would like for his birthday is a horse, and Tirza is determined to get one for him, somehow - especially when he rides up to the house, battered and exhausted, and instead of dismounting he simply puts his feet on the ground and allows his little pony to walk out from beneath him! But where, at a time when every healthy horse is so desperately needed in the war, can she hope to find one for her brave, beloved brother? When she is given her own crystal the day before her 16th birthday arrives, she holds it in her hand and thinks the very words her mother is wont to say: "I'll just see what I can do about that."
This is a sweet story about faith and love during difficult times. My library shelves this among the adult books, but I think it is perfectly suited for teens as well. The only complaint I have is that it is such a small, short book - only 85 pages, but I was surprised to find that it is priced at $14.95 (my copy's hardbound). I got mine from the library, of course, but I'd certainly think twice about paying that much for a book I could read in an hour or so.
It has been a while since I've read anything by McCaffrey, and I enjoyed returning to her fictional world, which always has such interesting characters that I come to deeply care about.
Also - for any of you Pern fans out there, did you know that a Dragonriders of Pern movie is in the works? Click here for more information. According to IMDB, it should be out in 2008.
If Wishes Were Horses by Anne McCaffrey (Roc, 1998)