From Publishers Weekly
In Christopher's magical fifth novel, a sympathetic history teacher takes an interest in quiet, studious Xeno Atlas, who has developed a burning interest in real and imaginary animals. I first heard of the Caravan Bestiary
when I was fifteen years old, and it changed the course of my life, Xeno declares. The young man undertakes a quest to find the ancient manuscript, which describes animals left off Noah's Ark (including the Catoblepas, a white bird with divining powers) and was assumed lost many years ago. The search entails an around-the-world journey, wherein Xeno learns the answers to long-standing family mysteries, uncovers a wealth of lost knowledge and finds true love with his best friend's sister, the lovely Lena Moretti. Christopher (A Trip to the Stars
) also saddles his protagonist with a dead mother; a mysterious, perpetually grieving, peripatetic father; a shape-shifting shamanistic grandmother; and a lonely, troubled childhood. His evocative prose yields a narrative loaded with fascinating arcana and intriguing characters. (July)
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, Nicholas Christopher's fifth novel-after Franklin Flyer
(2002) and A Trip to the Stars
(2000)-has more than a little in common with Dan Brown's hugely popular The Da Vinci Code: the plots of both books are driven by a search for a lost object whose disappearance involves significant religious and historical intrigue. But The Bestiary
is no mere Da Vinci knockoff. As the Washington Post
opines, by blurring the edges of fantasy and reality, "Christopher is doing something strange here-and tantalizing." The novel's exploration of magical realism is what sets it apart, and its depiction of Xeno's enchanting, melancholy journey from Paris to Venice to Vietnam as he discovers beasts and himself is both riveting and heartwarming.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.