There was a lot about White Horse I really enjoyed. I loved how the unbelievable fantasy type elements of the abominations (two hearts, tails etc etc) weren’t made to be the focus of the plot, which was very much more about character and psychology. When the lab man ate the mice I was surprised but not shocked, so I suppose the bizarre seeds must have already been sown.
I’m not sure what it was – probably the doomsday elements – but the book held my interest from start to finish and I completed it in three days on and off. I very rarely complete a book so speedily, so this says a lot about how much I cared about the characters and was hoping for a positive outcome, some kind of medical or other breakthrough which might reverse the disastrous trend.
I have to confess that there wasn’t much I didn’t like about The White Horse, though I found the character of the Swiss somewhat unconvincing. However, he/she was convincing enough for me to be gutted to discover he/she wasn’t dead. I know this book has many parallels with other dystopian classics, such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and group members will have no doubt picked up on the plot similarities with The Testament of Jessie Lamb.
There were some pieces of really beautiful dark prose that drew me in very much. For example, “We’re all just meat puppets with an invisible hand inside us, making us dance and live. When that hand slips off the glove, we collapse and that is the end of everything”. And, less gory, I particularly enjoyed pg 133 – “Dark is louder than light. Under the guise of night, the underbelly of nature reveals itself. Creatures slither and slink so as to not attract the attention of their natural foe”. It’s nothing complex or overly clever, but I felt the writing was deep and rich and enticing.
I adored the idea of the jar which could have been an ancient horrifying artefact, or a Pandora’s box containing the evils of the world, but which ended up being the result of science and disastrous experimentation – another kind of evil.
I would give this book a 9/10 because it was fascinating to me and held my interest by enticing my dark side. Unlike Jessie Lamb, I thought this was well written and also reminded me of Catherine Chanter’s The Well for its unexplainable and unfathomable world changes and sadnesses.
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