Friday, January 26

Book Review: Shoot the Horses First by Leah Angstman

Author: Leah Angstman
Title: Shoot the Horses First
Genre: Historical Fiction, Short Stories, Anthology
Format: Paperback
Pages: 238
Published: February 28, 2023
Where I Got It: My Shelf (Given a complimentary copy after the book tour)

Through a historian’s lens and folkloric storytelling, the pieces in SHOOT THE HORSES FIRST revel in the nuances, brutality, mythology, and tiny victories of our historical past. A launderer takes us inside the linens of the richest families in early Baltimore. A child on the Orphan Train has his teeth inspected like a horse. Civil War soldiers experience PTSD. While one woman lands on an island of the Wampanoag tribe, a woman 200 years later finds Apache in a harsh frontier. Children survive yellow fever, the desert heat, and mistaken identities; men survive severed fingers, untested medicines, and wives with obsessive compulsive disorders. Frederick Douglass’ grandson plays violin at the World’s Fair on Colored American Day, a woman with disabilities is kept hidden away like she doesn’t exist, and a botanist is denied her place in a science journal because she is female. Themes of place, war, mental illness, identity, disability, feminism, and unyielding optimism throughout harrowing desperation resurface in this collection of stories that takes us back to time immemorial, yet feels so close, and all too familiar.

Been meaning to read this since I was given this as a gift, but you know how life gets ;) 

This is a collection of short stories that do not really tie into each other so you can read these individually which I appreciated. Normally with anthologies, I break down each short story. I am not going to do that. 1) There are 16 of them. 2) Some are soooo short. Maybe a page or two while others are pages and pages. 3) I am lazy and tired. 

Honestly, this was a nice collection of stories. We got to see different time periods and different types of characters. Some stories are feel-good. Some deeper. Some sad. Some...confusing. A nice variety overall. 

There are a couple that really, really stuck with me. I would LOVE to read more. 


'Casting Grand Titans'....WHAT! OMG. I have hopes and thoughts, but what does she decide???? I understand why she was upset BUT it was that time. I truly think he did what he thought was best. Ugh. This could be a full novel for shizzle. 

'In Name Only'.....this was good. I wanted to cry and cheer and scream. So many feels. 

'A Lifetime of Fishes'.....another one that should be a full-length novel. Probably my favorite of this whole collection. 

'The Desert Jewel'....this one surprised me. It started off meh but then TWIST and I ended up loving it. Can't blame him. 

Now, it did take me forever to get through this. Not because it was was all on me. I wanted to take my time with this guy. Some of these stories were super impactful so I wanted to take my time like this was a dry wine. Slow and steady. 

In the end, I highly recommend this. It was really good. Some stories were better than others, but there wasn't one I didn't like. 4 stars from me.