Book Review: The Dala Horse

Cover art by Ellen Haasen

Cover art by Ellen Haasen

“The Dala Horse” by author Lissa Johnston is a very easy-to-read and masterfully crafted story. Set in the latter half of the 19th century, the story centers around little Kaya Olson, a young Norwegian immigrant living in the frontier lands of Texas. I quickly came to adore young Kaya, who in some ways reminded me of one of the main characters from one of my favorite childhood shows, “Little House on the Prairie.” Her wittiness and strength of character leave little doubt that beyond the point where the story ends, Kaya grows up to become a pillar of her home and community.


The main character (Kaya) personifies just about everything you would hope for in your own child: respecting of adults and mindful of her manners, all while retaining a youthful sense of curiosity and adventure. Without playing spoiler, I’ll share that her curiosity and sense of adventure lands her in some pretty interesting situations–ones that cause her to rely on the strength and determination instilled in her by her parents and elder relatives.

I absolutely loved reading this story and with the way the author crafted it, I would not be surprised if other readers were to experience the same nostalgic memories of childhood days long gone that I did. The author even leaves you asking a major question: one that even leaves the possibility of a follow-up novel, (but I won’t spoil it for you; you’ll have to read the book yourself).

This story is, in my opinion, perfect in length and is a great read for any age. Not only is it entertaining, it is also educational. There are several different Norwegian words and phrases woven into the dialogue throughout the book and to ensure you understand the meaning, the author includes a glossary at the end. Some readers may be taken aback by that fact initially, but if you’ll look at the glossary early on (as I did), you’ll find yourself feeling much more connected to the culture (and a wonderful cultural lesson this book is). As an added bonus, the author rounds out the book with several discussion points that further educate the reader about some of the history and customs of Norwegian immigrants in America). In a world of adult books that are so serious in nature and subject matter, reading “The Dala Horse” felt like taking a vacation. I can’t wait to read Johnston’s next release!


(As of the publication date of this article, “The Dala Horse” by Lissa Johnston is currently available in Amazon Kindle format only. For more information, visit the author’s website at



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