Let’s get psychological and play word association. What images come to mind when you hear the word “horse?”
If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll think of majestic, beautiful animals galloping through green meadows, their manes billowing in the breeze. Or maybe you think of a glue factory.
But of all the things that pop into my head when I hear the word “horse,” “evil mastermind” has to be one of the last.
That’s the premise of Diablo by Fallacious Rose, a new horse tale available here.
The book follows Kim, a teenage girl who dreams of owning a horse. Though her family has failed with a horse before, Kim’s dreams become sweet, juicy reality when she moves to the country with her brother, her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend, Alan, hoping to endear himself to his girlfriend’s kids and with no hypnotists in sight, Alan buys Kim her dream horse, Diablo.
The horse’s name proves to be apt. Diablo refuses to be ridden, stay in his pen, or even budge when it doesn’t suit his schedule. Despite Kim’s best efforts, Diablo turns up his nose at proper horse behavior and is, Kim suspects, secretly plotting world domination.
After a few lessons in “natural horsemanship” techniques, Kim begins to take control of not just Diablo, but of her own relationships. She makes peace with her obnoxious brother Jake, deals with the mounting tension in her family, and bests, then befriends, her rival, Ebony. Through a lot of trials and horse poop, Kim learns to control her emotions and not to base her behavior or happiness on her reactions to other people.
My favorite part of Diablo was the horse dialogue. The horses talk just like any other characters, but only some of the humans, those who are attuned to the animals and “speak horse”, can understand them. A lot of dialogue scenes play out like this:
“Diablo started hopping around on three legs like it was a novelty race and I was his partner. Only compared to his great hairy legs, mine are like twigs.
I tried to get a back leg up to look at, but Diablo just leaned on it and said,
‘You want my back hoof? You’ll get my back hoof, if you’re not careful.’ and swished his tail suggestively. It was time to move around the front end.
‘Ok. Now what about your halter?’
‘Huh? Haven’t I already told you I’m busy? What does a guy have to do around here –put up a big sign up, Do Not Disturb?’
‘Just give me your nose for a second.’ I got down on the ground in front of him, trying to get his shiny new halter over his hose while he’s chewing like it’s his last meal, and before he opens his mouth to take another great mouthful.”
The conversations between Kim and Diablo are a lot of fun to read and give the book a jaunty feel.
Another unique trait of this book is its use of horse terminology. I have about as much experience with horse ownership as I do with sponge-bathing William Howard Taft.
Through Diablo, I learned a lot about basic horse care. I didn’t know what a “grazing muzzle” or “carrot stick” was or what it meant to “plait” a horse’s tail until I read Diablo. The book teaches these terms, but never comes across as textbook-y. The horse care terminology slides easily into the characters’ world and helps it spring to life.
Diablo has a laid-back tone. It’s no Tolkien-esque adventure and instead simply lets you immerse yourself in Kim and Diablo’s world. The tone causes the story to feel more lifelike and makes the handful of intense moments, like Jake’s near-death encounter with a snake, all the more suspenseful.
If you’re in the mood for something easy, fun, and entirely unique, get your hands on some okra-flavored Pillsbury Toaster Strudel. And read Diablo. It’ll have you laughing and learning as you get sucked into a world of country living and snarky horses. Come to think of it, Snarky Horses is a great band name. I think it’s time to dig out my trombone and get the guys together…