If you’re looking for a post-apocalyptic, nature-takes-revenge on humans, with a fantasy overlay novel which represents disability rights, then The Centaur’s Wife is your ticket.
Amanda Leduc presents a dark, relentless story in which a group of survivors takes refuge in the remains of a city which sits at the foot of a mystical mountain. And the mountain is in turn the refuge of centaurs.
The story is complex, well-written, certainly interesting. But there were times I felt Leduc was trying too hard, trying to fit too many concepts into one novel. I’m in the minority here, I realize, which is not uncommon in itself. There was the apocalypse itself, which was never really clearly defined, just that there had been some sort of meteor event, or some such. There was the violent rebellion of the plant world which set about devouring and assimilating any remaining humans. There was the racism regarding centaurs. There was the protagonist’s disability in the form of a leg which has become malformed. And there was the ancient backstory of a shattered love, and cross-species children become centaurs.
I’m afraid, however, my willingness to suspend disbelief and accept the convoluted world Leduc created ended when the human female protagonist has sex with the centaur male protagonist. Yup. I’m reading this thinking: how does that work? I know: things we shouldn’t think about. But I couldn’t help it. And right there, in that scene near the denouement, simply ended it for me. Not because of some sense of delicacy, but rather from plausibility. Seriously: how does that work?
Now, I know there are myriad legends about human congress with animals, right from the famous story of the minotaur to Leduc’s centaur riding woman. (Forgive the play on words.) But even so….
And in the end, there is much ambiguity, despair, and further darkness, an implacable sort of futility which is well-written, very emotive.
You should probably read The Centaur’s Wife and make up your own mind.