Tweens going through their "horse phase," take note: Aryn Kyle's horse-themed The Gods of Animals is definitely not a heartwarming tale à la National Velvet. Though told from the perspective of 12-year old Alice, Aryn Kyle's surprisingly assured first novel is much more adult-themed. Her father, Jodi, runs a failing Colorado ranch that houses rundown horses for wealthy, silly, champagne-sipping housewives. Her older sister Nona, a skilled rider, has recently run off with a cowboy. Her mother rarely leaves her room. A youth in transition, Alice is haunted by the police's discovery of a classmate's body in a canal, and pursues an increasingly creepy relationship with her alcoholic English teacher. As Alice struggles to find herself, Kyle fills her prose with a tension and fragility as skittish as the horses themselves.
Tue., March 4, 7:30 p.m., 2008