The blurb Net-Galley sent for Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance made me reach for the mouse and click immediately. Unlike some blurbs, this one really delivered. I’m very grateful to Net-Galley and the publishers for the opportunity to review this book in advance of its publication date, 7th November.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell. Stories about a boy who lives with wolves, great storms that evaporate into thin air, fireflies that make phosphorescent honey, and a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.
There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door.
In this warm debut novel, Ruth Emmie Lang teaches us about adventure and love in a beautifully written story full of nature and wonder. [Goodreads]
A boy hovers on the edge of a clearing in the forest, plucking up the courage to carry out a dare. We return to this boy and his predicament several times during the story, but it is how we meet Weylyn. The author swiftly takes us back to his youth, and the strange things that happen when he’s around, as seen by his step-sister.
I loved the way this story unfolds, travelling from place to place as Weylyn finds new places to be run out of for his strangeness. He also finds friends, and potential enemies who turn into friends as they realise that ‘different’ people are not always dangerous.
The author uses really poetic language, bringing the detail of forests and other wild places into a sparkling clarity. Different narrators (usually a ‘family’ member and a new one) tell each story. My only quibble is that sometimes the local narrator uses that poetic language, which doesn’t really fit his voice. Most of the time, though, the writing is solid. The powers that Weylyn harnesses are beautifully imagined and magically described – especially the firefly lamp.
This book manages to combine charm with hard-hitting raw experience, slimy politics with homespun wisdom. It’s difficult to describe the delight I felt in this book without it sounding cute. It’s more of an epic in its range, something to settle with, to enjoy the ideas and the words, and yet rush eagerly through to see what happens next.