Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan – Review

A dark and unsettling tale.


In Ilmarsh, England, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses’ heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun. After Veterinary Forensics expert Cooper Allen travels to the scene, a pathogen is discovered lurking within the soil, and many of those who have come into contact with the corpses grow critically ill.

A series of crimes comes to light–disappearances, arson, and mutilations–and in the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia. Everything is not as it seems. Anyone could be a suspect. And as Cooper finds herself unable to leave town, Alec is stalked by an unseen threat. The two investigators race to uncover the truth behind these frightened and insidious mysteries–no matter the cost.

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan - Review
Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan – Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Trigger warning: animal abuse

It is tough for me to write a review for Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan because it was tough for me to read it.

It is an extremely dark story. Buchanan’s evocative writing transported me to the dark, lifeless town of Ilmarsh, where even the most vivacious of the creatures on Earth would shrivel up and turn into morose people.

This book also provided me with a tryst with a lonely, confused mind with no self-esteem. Buchanan does not hold back in the descriptions of such a personality.

Sadly, his writing is the only saving grace of this book.

Firstly, it is replete with scenes of animal killing/abuse. The premise itself is full of foreboding. Heads of sixteen horses are found buried on a farm with a single eye facing the sun.

I was, therefore, expecting a tense, nail-biting thriller. However, Sixteen Horses is neither tense nor nail-biting. It is also not a thriller.

It starts on a high note. Alec Nichols discovers the brutal crime. He is joined by Cooper, a Veterinary Forensics Expert. What initially appears to be a site of ritualistic killing is soon revealed to be infected with a viral pathogen. This adds more layers to the mystery.

The author further throws in another mystery of an island where a depraved man killed his entire family.

Finally, a tragedy occurs. Alec’s son goes missing.

These would have made for an excellent mystery had all these loose ends been tied up.

Unfortunately, almost all these loose ends are left open, barring the greatest – who killed the horses. While I understood who killed the horses (a day after I finished the book) and the significance of the number sixteen, I didn’t understand the why, nor could I grasp the significance of assembling the horses in a circle with one eye pointing to the sun.

I felt that the brutality of the crime was only to shock the reader and added nothing to the story.

Moreover, the ending was confusing. The epilogue answers only a few questions and leaves many unanswered.


Why were Ada and Frank’s points of view included, when they served no purpose in the story?

What happened to Rebecca’s father?

Why arrange the horses’ heads in a circle?

To sum it up, I was expecting a lot from Sixteen Horses, but it under-delivered.

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan book cover
Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan


Genre: Thriller || Pages: 367 || Published on April 29, 2021 by Mantle


Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book. This does not affect my opinion on the book. I opted to provide an honest review on my blog.


Greg Buchanan author photo
Greg Buchanan

Greg Buchanan was born in 1989 and lives in the Scottish Borders. He studied English at the University of Cambridge and completed a PhD at King’s College London in identification and ethics. He is a graduate of UEA’s Creative Writing MA. SIXTEEN HORSES is his first novel.

Author Link(s): Twitter || Website

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Author: debjani6ghosh

I started this blog to discuss books that I read and movies that I watch. But the blog may not be purely restricted to that!

8 thoughts on “Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan – Review”

  1. Oh my gosh, the premise sounds awful especially the first paragraph of the synopsis, but at the same time I can’t help being intrigued. I can see why it would be very hard to read though, I think I would be feeling rather turned off from the animal killing and abuse too.

    Liked by 1 person

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