Saturday, May 6, 2023

BOOK REVIEW: Like the Appearance of Horses by Andrew Krivak

I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Like the Appearance of Horses
by Andrew Krivak is a complex but tightly focused multi-generational saga of war. As the third book in the Dardan Trilogy, it continues the narrative of the family of Jozef Vinich, an American-born transplant to Austria-Hungary who becomes a sharpshooter in WWI before eventually finding his way back to the U.S. to build a home in Dardan, Pennsylvania. The backstory is trickled into the current story, so that Like the Appearance of Horses works very well as a standalone novel. While jumping back and forth in time, this novel primarily focuses on the next two generations of men (in the Vinich family) going off to war – first WWII and then Vietnam. 

Jozef, now a patriarch, has a daughter, Hannah. She marries Becks (Bexhet), the boy who, as an infant during the war, was saved by Jozef, a story told in the previous book.

Becks goes off to war in turn. When he is separated from his company during the Battle of the Ardennes, he is rescued by Roma – his people – and guided back to where he hopes to find his grandfather. The journey is an epic in itself. And what comes of it is tragic.

Becks and Hannah have two sons. The eldest stays at home on the family farm while the younger, Sam, is forced to enlist in the army after an arrest. He is very good at soldiering, but that doesn’t prevent his capture, imprisonment, and torture. While he is MIA, his fiancee and brother back home fall in love and become engaged. When Sam finally returns home, addicted to heroin, he must make an epic journey of his own.

The saga wraps up in the next generation, when Sam’s son has gone off to war, not to return.

The writing is lush and dense. It is a moving story of how war damages not only the men who fight it, but all those who live within war-torn landscapes and all those left at home.

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