Pages: 352, Hardcover
Publish Date: 7th November 2017
Publishers: St. Martin’s Press
Ruth Emmie Lang teaches us how to find magic in the ordinary in her magical realism debut 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.
As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places, jeopardizing not only his own life, but the life of Mary, the woman he loves.
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: great storms that evaporate into thin air; fireflies that make phosphorescent honey; 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.
This is an E-Arc from Netgalley so this is a pre-written review (written on 03/07/17) due to be published a week before the official publication date.
This was really, really good. I have only recently started getting into magical realism but I’m starting to realize that I like it quite a lot. This follows a boy called Weylyn Grey, appropriately named, whose parents died in a blizzard and was raised by wolves until he was adopted. Multiple people who came into contact with Grey and had a lasting impressing of him write their perspective and their side of the story as we follow his lifespan. We do get to hear from him, eventually, but for most of the book we don’t.
This book has a lot more characters than I am used to seeing. Obviously, because most chapters are from a different characters’ perspective. Saying that, I found myself enjoying most of the characters’ who came into play. Especially, I think, Lydia (foster sister?) and Mary (love interest). They all seemed to not believe what they are seeing, at first, that things like that can’t possibly exist and they try to convince themselves that it doesn’t exist even when they’re hit in the face with it. Most, if not all, come to terms with his “powers” and are perplexed. I just love seeing what impact this boy had on everyone he met and how they all developed and changed.
“‘Someone worked really hard to make this,’ he said, pointing to his slice with his fork. That’s what sealed it for me, that simple appreciation for something that most of us take for granted”
I also really like how the characters were flawed, and admitted their faults. A lot of them, on the occasions where they weren’t being very nice, knew as much and made an effort to do and be better. For those characters who weren’t having their perspective told were often not as nice and didn’t amend their mistakes, and I’m glad we rarely got to hear their side of the story.
This story is very character driven, and I know a lot of people in the book community don’t like that but I really like that when it’s done right. The characters had depth.
As it is character driven, I feel for the most part, there wasn’t that much of a plot. Each character had something different going on in their lives that you couldn’t really follow as the book is split into parts and none of them stayed too long (although some reappeared, years later). It was about the boy and his impact on the world as he aged. It was also about his relationship with the girl he was in love with, Mary, even though we didn’t really get to see much of her until the last part of the novel and I thought that was a shame.
Not a lot but some of the book did drag and is it didn’t really feel that relevant to the story, it was just put there as a because more than anything, but the parts that I did enjoy I really enjoyed.
(also, maybe for copyright reasons, but there was Harry Potter references everywhere near the end of the book – such as “Electro Spectrum!”, I know a few of my followers would really like that addition)
I really liked the writing style. It was very engaging and fast-paced (for the most part) and entertaining. Sometimes humorous. It also contained great lines, such as these ones:
“Boys like your brother need to fall on their face every once in a while. It reminds them they’re human”
But, sometimes, it did contain lines like this (which makes no sense and was funny because of how “this makes no sense” it was):
Her eyes were closed, but I guessed they were green. She was unconscious.
It was just odd to comment on an eye colour he couldn’t actually see while she was unconscious and needed hospital attention. For the most part though it was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. It also had casual diversity thrown in, which I really appreciate. There was several, but I’m just going to quote two for now:
“(I) didn’t read those kinds of magazines, mainly because I didn’t need one more person telling me I was too fat”
“She was of Polynesian decent”
It’s not my place to tell you if all the representation of diversity was good representation, as I do not share the marginalization of some mentioned in the novel (only some), and the ones that I could say something on were accurate and not offensive. So, props to that!
- Really well written characters
- A character driven story done brilliantly
- A book that felt very Disney in that it made me believe in magic
- An engaging writing style
- Casual diversity
Not So Good Points:
- It dragged in parts
- Some of the lines used in this book were…weird
- Not sure if the diverse rep was good rep
So, that’s the review for today! The publishers on Netgalley for this book were apparently extremely generous in handing this out as I already saw plenty of reviews on Goodreads (almost fifty!), and it’s clearly way before the book has been released (3 months, 4 if you include this one). So, that’s super nice of them! If you follow me on social media, you probably heard me boosting this book to give other “professional readers” a chance to grab it for free to review while they could. Yes, I am indirectly suggesting you follow my social medias!
Overall, I give this book a four out of five. I might purchase this book if I see it, as it does seem like something that will stick with me for a while and I would want to re-read.
Until next time,