Review of The Horseman by Kristina O’ Donnelly

November 26, 2015

thehorsemancoverThis book has dropped into my hands at the appropriate time. Just a few days ago, the world was upset by an unexpected terrorist attack in Paris and never no book was very current like the one I am about to review in this post. Terrorism is the fruit of a hard clash among two different worlds, Western and Eastern, and Christian and Muslim religion and if there is a place where these two worlds meet, this is Turkey, the land of the morning, as it is best known all over the world. Turkey is the home of Christianity and Islam, a glorious and ancient country that witnessed various wars and battles in the past and where this book is set.

This work also arrived just in a moment Turkey is in the limelight because of what happened yesterday, namely the Russian plane shot down in this country. The author of this current book is Kristina O’ Donnelly, an awarded novelist, born in Rome, Italy, and raised in Turkey. She also lived in Ireland and currently in the U.S along with her husband. She is, hence, an eclectic writer who knows about several cultures.

Thanks to this deep knowledge of different countries, the author has developed a gripping book series titled Land of the Morning. What I have reviewed is The Horseman, the first book of the series. The Horseman tells about a wealthy American family who is in Turkey for job purposes. The father is a famous architect, the mother, a skilled academician, passionate about reincarnation and esotericism, the daughter, Ariadne, is a beautiful, blond 17 year girl who dreams to work as a journalist at a Turkish newspaper.

One day, during an archaeological exploration, the girl has been kidnapped by a strange Turkish boy and saved by a likewise strange and alluring man called Mehmet Ali Mesut. The latter turns out to be a Kurd, who has a sister, Leyla, a sixteen year girl who, in turn, is about to marry a man who is older than her. Abruptly, the future bride commits suicide and this event upsets the life of Ariadne definitively, because she realizes today there are women who are still forced to marry older men and be enslaved by their husbands.

Through this chapter of the book, the author faces the burning topic of child brides. In certain places in the world, girls are forced to get married at 15 or less years. The suicide of the young Leyla happens in Turkey, a place where there are also great opportunities for Ariadne, who manages to get hired at the most important Turkish daily paper. Thanks to her new job, she also meets her idol, a hero of the Turkish Journalism, Burhan Bey, a fascinating reporter who is very attracted by Ariadne.

Over the several chapters of the book, the girl becomes torn between the love for the Turkish journalist and the one for Kurd Mehmet Ali. Through this intrigue, the author shows various sides of the culture in Turkey, step by step, indeed, Burhan Bey turns out to be a brave and modern political journalist, while Melmet Ali, even though is a professor of sociology and an idealist who fights to improve the life of his people, shows to be jealous of the job of Ariadne and of her attraction for Burhan Bey, so much to annoy her on the workplace.

This behavior proves that many habits and customs are hard to fight and makes readers ask the following questions: the Turkish men are liberal or not? The past can influence the present? Turkey is Christian or Muslim? We don’t have to forget Turkey was the home of the Ottoman Empire, as many ruins confirm.  In the book, the father of Ariadne  is, indeed, committed to retrieve and explore many important Turkish ruins. He has also many contacts with Turkish politicians and publishers and this other detail proves that Turkey has no prejudice to have relationships with Western people.

The plot of the book, hence, shows many sides and contradictions of this ancient and great country. The Horseman is also a book where the author also manages to insert important accountings about the political issues between Turks and Kurds, in addition to very poetic and lyrical pages where Ariadne’s love story is described. Also the religion topics are very important in this book. These topics go from ancient legends to reincarnation. Moreover, religion intertwined with political issues and with a love story is the right mix to dive into an unusual world where past and present are closely merged toward to the future.

For more information about the book, also read the press release.

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