Dark Horses

Susan Mihalic. Scout, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-9821-3384-9
Mihalic’s taut, bracing debut takes a daringly understated approach to its exploration of sexual abuse. Fifteen-year-old Roan Montgomery is hoping to ride her way to an equestrian Olympic championship, like her father before her, who serves as her coach, trainer, agent, and publicist. He’s also been sexually abusing her since she was 10, which she’s done her best to convince herself is a necessary evil in order to have the life she otherwise relishes. Compartmentalizing this aspect of her existence gets more difficult after she grows attracted to classmate Will Howard, a development that causes her father to become even more controlling. Mihalic has a firm grasp of the intricacies of competitive riding, and she grounds her narrative in a sense of the day by day, or even minute by minute, decisions involved in negotiating its dangers, which gives a reader an understanding of why Roan might hope the danger her father presents can also be contained and navigated. As the dread the novel evokes grows increasingly overwhelming, the reader is torn between that perspective and the knowledge that, from an objective point of view, Roan is dealing with a monster. The novel takes every narrative hurdle as nimbly and astonishingly capably as Roan does the courses she rides. This is a powerhouse. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 09/04/2020
Release date: 02/16/2021
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-1270-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-1272-5
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