Like the Appearance of Horses

Written by Andrew Krivak
Review by Jessica Brockmole

In 1933, a young Romani boy named Bexhet escapes fascist Hungary for the mountains of Pennsylvania, in search of Jozef Vinich, a man who saved his life when he was born in the aftermath of WWI. Jozef takes Bexhet in and, as he grows alongside Jozef’s only daughter, Hannah, the two young people fall in love. Bexhet returns to Europe to fight in WWII and to see if any trace of his family exists in the wartime landscape. Though he leaves a hopeful soldier, he returns broken with revenge.

A generation later, his son Sam returns to those same Pennsylvania mountains after months as a POW in Vietnam to find his fiancée married and his beloved grandfather dead. Fueled by the same sort of psychological scars that his father and his grandfather brought home from war, Sam sets off on a journey of his own to find the self-forgiveness that he desperately needs.

Like the Appearance of Horses is a meaningful capstone to Krivak’s trilogy about war, family, and the journeys that take us across the landscape of both. As with the first, The Sojourn, this is a novel about passages—from boyhood to manhood, from wartime to peacetime, from home to the battlefield. Krivak’s new book digs deeply into the memories of a single family, those of the strong and fiercely independent men who build and fight for it and the women who wait to quietly piece them back together. The prose is spare and exquisite, breathing life into the mountains, the forests, and the foxholes these characters inhabit. A beautifully emotional and delicate novel about three generations of men and the mountains where they find solace. Read the whole trilogy at once for a stunning family saga.