cover image The Last Wild Horses

The Last Wild Horses

Maja Lunde, trans. from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley. HarperVia, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-295141-0

Like Lunde’s The History of Bees, her stellar latest hinges on a threatened species, this time the takhi, a rare ancient breed of horses. In 1880 St. Petersburg, a colleague brings zoologist Mikhail Kovrov the skull and hide of what looks like a takhi, which is believed to be extinct. Kovrov leaves his comfortable urban life to travel with animal-capture expert Wilhelm Wolff to Mongolia, where the remains were found, with a plan to bring living takhis to Europe to preserve their bloodline. Though they succeed in capturing the horses, Kovrov’s time with the passionate, fearless Wolff throws his beliefs about his identity and future into crisis. A century later, German veterinarian Karin realizes her longtime dream of flying a group of European-born takhis back to Mongolia to reestablish them in the wild. Joining her on the expedition is her son, Mathias, a heroin addict in unsteady recovery who hopes to win the love his mother has never seemed able to express. In 2064 Norway, Eve and her teenage daughter, Isa, inhabit the dystopia caused by climate change. Isa wants to join migrants seeking a more sustainable habitat, while Eve is determined to stay at the family’s defunct wild animal park to take care of its takhi, one of the world’s last, and her foal. Each of the segments are brilliantly complex, and they conclude with satisfying revelations. Throughout, Lunde delivers a perfect blend of gripping human stories, historical and scientific fact, and speculative elements. This standout should win her wider attention in the U.S. (Feb.)