Book Review: High as the Horses’ Bridles by Scott Cheshire

Posted July 17, 2014 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 4 Comments

High as the Horses' Bridles by Scott Cheshire
High as the Horses' Bridles by Scott Cheshire
Published by Henry Holt & Co. on Jul. 8, 2014
Pages: 320
Genres: Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

In 1980, 12-year-old Josiah Laudermilk steps up to read the sermon to his massive church in Queens, New York. Looking out at the congregation, his nerves fall away as he receives what he believes to be a vision from God. In front of four thousand worshippers, he speaks eloquently and captivatingly as he predicts the date of Armageddon.

Decades later, Josiah (now called Josie) is a disillusioned divorce running a failing chain of computer stores in California. In the years since he made his prophecy, he has lost his best friend, had a teenage love end in heartbreak, lost his mother to a long battle with cancer, left the church, and fled across the country. Now, he must return to Queens to check up on his ailing father, who is worse off than Josie had feared. As he deals with his father and tries to put the deteriorating house in order, Josie must confront his past: his relationship with his father and with the faith he lost long ago.

I’m not religious, and I have a lot of problems with organized religion, but there’s something about it that fascinates me. Although I’m just about as secular as they come, I’m always intrigued by books that have a religious element to them (as long as they’re not trying to preach at me). High as the Horses’ Bridles promised to scratch that itch, and it did so really well. From the first few pages, which describe the massive amphitheater Josiah’s church has recently occupied, I knew I was going to love this novel. Scott Cheshire’s writing is rich and beautiful from page one, and I was immediately drawn in to Josiah’s story.

Most of the novel follows Josie as he visits his widowed, declining father and looks back on the events that shaped their relationship and Josie’s attitude toward the church he cared so much about as a child. However, near the end of this book, the narrative takes a major turn to look back in time at a 19th-century rural Kentucky community, where one of Josie’s ancestors has his own religious experience. It was an unexpected twist that caught me off guard, but I thought it worked really well. It added an interesting, unique layer to Cheshire’s themes of legacy and inheritance.

I would definitely recommend this novel. Cheshire is a promising talent, and I really enjoyed the way he wrote about death, faith (and the loss of it), and family.

The kind folks at Henry Holt have offered me one copy of this book to give away! This giveaway is open to US residents only, and it will be open until 12 am July 25. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.

  • This was such a good read. Glad you enjoyed it, too!

  • You have no idea how much I want to read this book. Like you, I’m not religious but am fascinated by books set in religious settings.

  • I’m seeing lots of reviews of this one, and I’m absolutely fascinated. This sounds like it includes or contextualizes religion in a similar way to The Sparrow. Way different genre/approach…but a similar inclusion of religious elements (not preachy!).

  • Really enjoyed this one, too, so I’m glad to see it getting more praise! I was surprised by the ending even though I knew it was coming, but I thought it was a great way to wrap things up.