Book Review and Giveaway: Skyriders (Skyriders #1) by Polly Holyoke

Skyriders Series, #1
Polly Holyoke
Children’s Fantasy / Middle Grade Readers / Mythical Stories / Adventure
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Date of Publication: March 7, 2023
Number of Pages: 304 pages 
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Wings of Fire meets Pax in this epic fantasy adventure set in a world where human and skysteed share a deep bond of friendship. When monsters emerge to attack the empire, it’s up to shy Kiesandra and her beloved winged horse N’Rah to prove to the imperial army that she has what it takes to lead them to victory . . . and to ensure the survival of their world.

Buzzing with action, heart, and friendship, this first book in the Skyriders series shows that kids can achieve the impossible–especially with flying horses on their side.


“Skyriders soars off the page and takes you along for an epic adventure that will leave you breathless and asking for more.” —James Ponti, New York Times bestselling author of the City Spies series

“A breathtaking, mythical adventure. This is the kind of book I would have devoured and read over and over again as a kid.” —Liesl Shurtliff, New York Times bestselling author of Rump and the Time Castaways trilogy

“Kiesandra Torsun is an unforgettable heroine who never gives up, even when facing staggering odds against vicious three-headed monsters attacking her homeland. Her loyalty, courage, and kindness won me over and her bond with her winged horse left me dazzled.” —Mary E. Pearson, New York Times bestselling author of The Remnant Chronicles


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Skyriders is the first in a new series by Polly Holyoke, and if this is the start, I am here for the whole thing!

Kiesandra Torsun (Kie) is living a quiet life with her Uncle Dug, working with her Skysteed N’Rah as a sky courier (and quite good at her job) and helping run the family’s orchard. But when the chimerae, monsters who were thought to be wiped out centuries earlier, reappear, all that changes. Uncle Dug always said the chimerae would return, and he trained Kie for that possibility. He tasks her with sharing her training and his manual, chock-full of useful information on how to fight the deadly creatures, to the capital city. He insists she must make someone listen to her, to get the information to the country’s Skyforce before they take flight and engage in battle.

Growing up, I loved horses. Black Beauty. The Black Stallion. National Velvet. Summer Pony. Misty of Chincoteague. King of the Wind. Even Brighty of the Grand Canyon. If it had a horse or horse-like creature, I was all about reading it. So the cover of  Skyriders made the child in me squee with delight. I mean, look at it! The colors! The horse and rider! The wings!

And the story is worthy of its majestic cover. Kie is a charming protagonist and a reluctant heroine. She doesn’t seek out glory. When she is praised for taking down two chimerae herself, she demurs and turns the praise to others instead. She’s a level-headed young woman, and she keeps an admirable focus on her goal rather than getting discouraged when things don’t go the way she’d hoped.

The other characters are well written, too. Even the side characters have enough backstory to grab your interest.  We see an interesting twist with Kie’s friend and fellow courier Topar, and a Skyforce cadet’s initial unpleasant attitude toward Kie offers a good opportunity for character development. Other than Kie, I think Princess Halla and N’Seella are two of my favorites. The Dowager and her more mature Skysteed, N’Talley, are also a treat. I hope there’s room for them all in future stories in the series!

The story’s themes are uplifting, things you’d be glad for your kids to read: perseverance, bravery in the face of danger, learning to think outside the box to find a solution, realizing that there is always more strength in working together. The story also emphasizes that even a young person can make a difference. Kie was able to help the Skyforce – indeed, everyone – realize that the smaller, wild Skysteeds could play a vital part in the country’s defense even if they didn’t have Skyriders. She also worked to convince those in power to change the edict that only nobles could bond with Skyriders, which made a big difference to a lot of people and Skysteeds.

There was nothing about this story that I didn’t love. Engaging characters, tension and action, change and growth, and humor, too! Five BIG stars from a horse-loving girl who hasn’t ever entirely grown up. I can’t wait to see what happens next!


Polly Holyoke is the award-winning author of the middle grade sci-fi Neptune Trilogy (Disney/Hyperion) and the new children’s fantasy series, Skyriders (Viking Children’s Books). A former classroom teacher, Polly loves doing school visits and getting students excited about writing.

Polly grew up in Colorado, where she spent her childhood skiing, camping, reading, and dreaming up fantastical stories. Polly went on to graduate from Middlebury College and become a middle school social studies teacher. She lives with her husband and their two daughters, as well as two cats, two Chihuahuas, and a beagle.

Signed copy of SKYRIDERS, set of 5 flying horse necklaces
+ a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/7/23)

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3 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: Skyriders (Skyriders #1) by Polly Holyoke

  1. I LOVE your review! I had a road trip and started listening to this book and was so irritated that people kept calling me to talk business. I wanted to just keep on driving to finish it. I can’t wait to meet all these characters.

  2. Hi Lisa, thanks so much for your wonderful review! I’m so glad that you enjoyed SKYRIDERS. I sure had fun writing it. When I was young, I tried to read every horse book in my school library. I still love horses, but appreciate having a friend who has several that I can ride whenever I want. They are expensive! Again, many thanks and I hope you are having a happy spring.

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