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Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance: A Novel Hardcover – November 14, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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"This tale feels comfortable and familiar, imitating Lewis Carroll’s casual, everyday description of magic and starring a sympathetic, mature boy with Peter Pan-like abilities. Original and imaginative, especially in its multifaceted exploration of one extraordinary person, Lang’s novel is a lovely and fascinating feat of magical realism." ―Booklist
"This enchanting title mixes magical realism with romance, humor, and adventure, delighting readers who enjoy strong fantasy populated with quirky characters and events." ―Library Journal
"Weylyn Grey is enchanting.... Each bittersweet story shows our capacity to accept people who are different." ―Real Simple magazine
"This exquisite and adventurous book will remind you of classic fantasies that you read as a child." ―Bustle
"Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by debut author Ruth Emmie Lang will grab you by the hand and thrust you into a world complete with animal whisperers, supernatural occurrences, and people who search their whole lives to find what’s right in front of them." ―Book Reporter
"Ruth Emmie Lang's debut glitters with the glow of fireflies, explodes with the force of fantastically strange events and warms with the love of a man who has so much possibility contained within him it overflows in miraculous ways. Skeptics who shun magic on page one of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance will be converts by the end." ―Shelf Awareness
"I read this book on the first of September and it has stayed with me all month. The story is whimsical and gorgeous. The writing is just beautiful. And it made me smile the entire time." ―Kate Krug, Book Riot
"This wonderful, whimsical, warm-hearted novel is filled with subtle and not-so-subtle nods to the books I loved as a child.... Reading this book is so comfortable and uplifting, you almost feel as if you could conjure a herd of fireflies to get through a power outage, or a field of daffodils to celebrate a loved one’s birthday. Beasts is exactly the book I needed right now, and it made me so happy I wanted to howl at the moon." ―Steph Opitz, Book of the Month judge
"Ruth Emmie Lang's prose has the earthy warmth of a campfire story, best enjoyed in the woods and under the stars. Her contemporary spin on the American folktale, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, bristles with charm and curiosity, and its oddball hero, Weylyn Grey, will make you want to follow him into the forest.”―Winston Groom, New York Times bestselling author of Forrest Gump
"A wholly original and superbly crafted work of art, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a masterpiece of the imagination. Intelligent, witty, and brave, Ruth Emmie Lang takes us on an uplifting and unforgettable adventure of love, magic, friendship and fate. An extraordinary work of fiction by a truly gifted author. "― Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Life List and Sweet Forgiveness
"Ruth Emmie Lang dazzles with her inventive and magical debut. Told with brains and heart, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance introduces a protagonist who is both mythical and relatable. Weylyn Grey leaves a lasting impression on everyone he meets, and he will on readers too."―Michelle Gable, New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment and I'll See You in Paris
"Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a brilliant button on the coat of American magical realism. Think Charlotte's Web for grown-ups who, like Weylyn Grey, have their own stories of being different, feared, brave, and loved." ―Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave
About the Author
RUTH EMMIE LANG was born in Glasgow, Scotland and has the red hair to prove it. When she was four years old, she immigrated to Ohio where she has lived ever since. She has since lost her Scottish accent, but still has the hair. Ruth currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and dreams of someday owning a little house in the woods where she can write more books. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is her first novel.
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Weylyn is an unforgettable character, and I get the feeling he's going to stick around in my mind for quite some time. I really enjoyed the magic realism in this, though it may be a stretch to call it that. It was charming with just the right amount of whimsical fantasy to it. Even those of us who aren't into a lot of fantastical elements (I'm okay with fantasy, to an extent, but some older folks I know are not) can enjoy this one. It's down-to-earth enough for you to see Weylyn for what he is - just a boy, and then a man, who is special and more than meets the eye. While there are also alternating viewpoints, they're set in an almost short story format, all focusing on telling a new story with Weylyn at the center. It's almost like a collection of short memoirs about one man. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a light read that keeps you wanting more.
Well, I am pleased to say that "Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstances" is a lovely and very readable addition to this genre. It's billed as magic realism, and it might as well be called that as anything else, but it doesn't really fit into any genre classifications. It's part magic realism, part urban fantasy, part contemporary literary fiction of a distinctly American flavor. It follows--sort of--the life of Weylyn Grey, who has strange silver eyes and can communicate with animals and control the weather. When his parents die in a freak snowstorm, he runs away and joins a wolf pack. Several years later he's pulled back into human society and adopted, only to cause, inadvertently, problems within his adoptive family. He bounces from home to home, touching the lives of those he encounters, but never feeling like it's safe for him to stay.
The action is narrated by the people he encounters, some of whom become deeply involved with him, some of whom hardly get to know him at all, but whose lives he changes profoundly. There are multiple little subplots and side arcs to the story from all these people, and the main story only emerges gradually, as Weylyn's life takes shape around the people in it. It isn't until the latter half of the book that the heart of the story is revealed.
These interwoven plot lines require the reader's attention, but this isn't a difficult book to read--the language is casual and conversational, peppered with moments of humor, especially when the child narrators speak. This isn't "light" or "genre" fiction, but it isn't heavy or dense either: a good choice for those who want to read something a little more literary but don't want to saddle themselves with something really long and challenging, or those who just want a little more magic in their lives.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
An orphan raised by wolves, Weylyn's story begins under tragic circumstances. His parents were killed in an accident leaving him alone at an incredibly young age. Old enough to remember his parents, yet too young to fend for himself, he wanders to the woods where the wolves become his new family. Which would be odd and tragic in itself under ordinary circumstances, but Weylyn Grey is anything. While living with his wolf-family, he meets a girl about his own age, and that's truly where this story begins. Weylyn meets many people over the course of his life, never staying in one place for very long, but there's one person who will always remain in both his heart and mind - a girl named Mary, the friend he met when he was living with his wolves.
I loved this book to pieces, and it's one of those ones I'll talk about and recommend until everyone I know has read it (and even some I don't know). Ruth Emmie Lang created such an endearing character with Weylyn, with his innocence and his wit and his knack for leaving such an impact on those he meets. He carries his innocence long through adulthood, and possessed a beautiful spirit that infected everything around him - from people to animals to nature and everything in between.
Bottom line - do yourself a favor and read this beautiful book. It's a story of love, yes, but it's so much more. Whimsical and magical and equal parts beautiful and tragic, this is definitely a book that's going on my Favorites of 2017 Shelf. Highly recommended, and I'll certainly be looking out for anything else Ruth Emmie Lang graces readers with.
*eARC received via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a story about Weylyn Grey.Read more
Weylyn Grey is an utterly delightful protagonist: it is very hard not to fall in love with him.Read more
I just realized that this is the author’s first novel. Well done.
That said, I did have some problems with it but that could just be because I’m not a...Read more