Blue Horse Dreaming
The West has seldom seemed as alien a country as in this novel focusing on the intersecting lives of an isolated frontier outpost commander and the enigmatic redeemed Indian captive he tries to understand as the neglected fort crumbles around them.
Much of the story is locked within the woman once known as Abigail Buwell, pregnant and despised by the soldiers and her fellow captive alike for going Indian. Hints of the four years she felt alive are peppered throughout and in one evocative passage. Major Cutter is haunted by a life full of sorrows too, from the horrors of Civil War engagements to family deaths and madness and separation from his beloved wife. Firm in the belief of no afterlife, the ghosts of this story are the spirits of live people, from the high sensitivity of the outpost’s smith to the Blue Horse bonded to the woman who aided his birth.
Wallace’s self-conscious, ornate writing is not served well by paragraph-long sentences, the decision not to include quotation marks and the redundancy in Cutter’s letters home. But the story’s cheerless evocation of “this is no world to be born into” will stay drilled into a reader’s brain.