What a book! Toby Olson takes on almost everything that a work of fiction can bear. The narrative is an action-adventure story, complete with cliffhangers and chases, but that's only the beginning. The novel weaves its way through complexities of mythology; the enigmas of women, including a wonderful, feminine horse that leads the major character, Paul, into and out of his adventure; philosophical excursions into storytelling itself; explorations of the conflict between natural sexuality and pornography; attempts to understand the soul of Mexico; and a strange family secret that only comes clear at the end of it all.
Olson has a gift for intertwining good old American love of clear-cut right and wrong with a darker, less certain vision. Paul enters Mexico, a country that's offered him unsolved mysteries in the past, and suddenly finds himself rescuing a small mare--dog-size, a legendary breed--from a cruel involvement with makers of pornographic films. The horse leaps a barrier, wounds herself, and in that moment she decides Paul's fate. He treats the wound, then discovers that he can't give her up, has to follow her to her origins--and his own.
Respect for the intelligence of the horse, for nature itself, makes Paul a particularly sensitive hero and moves the book away from one-dimensional action into fable. Coincidences and magical meetings occur regularly. Symbols of water, moon, the horse deepen the resonances of the story.