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The Horses

The Horses (Rolling Olive Press, 2016 [Cinnamon Press, 2010]) 

'The world ended, Jo, and we missed it because we were on holiday.'

Jo and his family are stranded on a remote Scottish croft after an ecological disaster has devastated human life. The arrival of a mysterious herd of horses changes their vision of the future.

Praise for The Horses

'...a tale of many parts. It is a post-apocalyptic story, a teenage coming of age story, a book for aficionados of magic realism and lovers of horses and a story of environmental disaster and recovery. It is also a text that subverts the dominant discourse of global economics, political disenfranchisement and bureaucratic domination.  Despite this apparent complexity The Horses is neither dark nor difficult and, unlike similar stories such as the deeply pessimistic Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, this is a story of hope. Walker clearly knows not only her subject matter but also the stuff of writing with The Horses exhibiting a true storyteller’s sensibility. Reading this novel is like eating a really enjoyable meal.'

 - Sandra Burr, Journal of Writing and Writing Courses

'As a 14 year old boy in a classroom on the west coast of Scotland, my passion for literature was initially sparked by the ‘strange’ beasts who appear after a Holocaust in Edwin Muir’s anxious poem of the atomic age, ‘The Horses’. So I have been more than intrigued by their afterlife in Elaine Walker’s novel of that name, published in 2010.  The book is a compelling hybrid of realistic family drama and ecological fable about a dystopian future, set on a remote Scottish croft. In it, a group of horses-- simultaneously mythical and very real--and the companionship they offer, act as a test of human capacity for empathy with others. More than this, they offer the inspiration to readers first toimagine and then to live a life that is more ecologically and socially sustainable.  The novel is narrated through the powerfully realised voice of Jo, a teenager who faces personal tragedy and fear, developing a personality that is mature beyond his years. It is a compelling stylistic choice, because it allows Walker very authentically to balance earnestness and social conscience with emotional unguardedness to create the book's overarching tonal flavour. It is these facets of character that are learned best, perhaps, by living with and caring for animals; and if they are too often and quickly undermined in contemporary fiction, Walker celebrates them in this uplifting and open-hearted novel.'

 - Robert McKay, University of Sheffield