I liked this well enough, the setting, the characters, the unique abilities, idea of Companions. But at the same time it did not seem anything new to me...
The writing is entirely accessible for age 12 +, but the content is not in my estimation. I really despised the sex-is-great-anytime-with-anyone attitude that prevails in the Heraldic community, particularly for characters no more than 14/15, just because they have access to birth control/herbs. Gah. Yes, great. No responsibilities for your actions. Teenagers running around sleeping together because we can't get pregnant! Lovely message.
There is also a lesbian couple, but nothing graphic. A lot of sexual references, mention of pedophilia and abuse. All of which really does not match the tone of the book's writing style, nor the simplicity of the plot and characters.
So, a really disappointing attitude toward sex, esp. for teens and a sad representation of such a community. (Which only gets worse in the second book.) Still, Talia is a sweet character and this is her coming of age story, the girl and her horse, and setting up the scene for some bigger moments to come.
I am only sorry I would not feel comfortable recommending this to anyone, particularly knowing the direction the series takes.