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Unicorn Mountain by Michael Bishop

Published by Spectra

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Unicorn Mountain by Michael Bishop is a spiritual journey into a magical world. Paisley Coldpony is a Ute Indian whose mother decides to kill herself rather than die slowly of cancer. Not long afterward Paisley begins to have visions that seem to indicate that she is being dream-called to dance in the sacred Sun Dance.

Meanwhile Libby Quarrels, a white rancher, is asked by her ex to take in his cousin Bo Gavin, who is dying of AIDS. Libby has her own secret -- unicorns are appearing on her ranch. Only the unicorns seem to be dying of some strange disease. Also Paisley's father Sam works as a cowhand on Libby's ranch.

When Bo arrives on the ranch, he is messing around with the TV and manages to bring in shows from a strange other world where people live who are dead in ours. Libby finally takes Bo to the Sun Dance on the Ute Reservation in hopes that he may be healed. Although Bo dies, he becomes the instrumentality of healing to the unicorns in a conclusion that is satisfyingly transcendental.

Bishop, an anthropologist, treats the Utes with respect and makes them whole rounded persons with hopes and desires that we all feel and understand. DeWayne Sky, the Sun Dance chief, is a competent administrator who handles things in a way that is at once uniquely Ute and something that anyone involved in management can admire. And Paisley's struggles to be accepted at school and to be loyal to her Ute heritage can be understood by anyone who has had to struggle with divided loyalties. I enjoyed this book intensely.

Unfortunately this book has gone out of print. It is possible to have search for a used copy, albeit at a premium.

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This review posted May 23, 1999

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