When Thomas Rose first spots the girl concealed in a ditch outside his rural village, she looks as drab as a lark, blending with the English countryside. Only her bright-red kerchief gives her away. Yet French Hélène, who goes by “Ling” - for the year is 1757, and England and France are at war - is no ordinary bird. She is tiny and agile, with huge dark eyes and hair as black as plums. Ling enchants Thomas with tales of the circus, where she danced atop Belladonna, a pure-white horse with a tail the color of barley. But the leader of the troupe has sold Belladonna, and as Ling and Thomas set out to find her and fetch her back - with help from a mysterious painter and anatomist - Thomas knows that his simple life, that of a clever but unschooled wheelwright’s son, is about to change forever. Acclaimed author Mary Finn has crafted a lyrical coming-of-age story about a boy, a girl, and a horse - and about how a chance encounter can lead to a life of daring, intrigue, and learning, a life beyond imagining.
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