I was utterly charmed by Ruth Emmie Lang’s Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, a novel about a reclusive man with strange abilities told by the people who knew him as well as anyone could. From the doctor who delivered him to his foster sister, adopted mother, and his frequently lost love, everyone knows that there’s something odd about Weylyn Gray. It rains when he’s upset and woodland creatures bring him presents. Oh, and he was partially raised by wolves.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance jumps from decade to decade as Weylyn touches other characters’ lives with a mix of good and bad luck. Weylyn’s abilities are never fully explained, which I think adds to sense of sustained curiosity as people meet and lose him over time. For the most part, Weylyn and his ad hoc family and friends treat him like a secret. No one else will believe them anyway about the weather and the animals and the shockingly verdant plants that follow in his war. Further, there’s something about Weylyn makes people protective.
What saves this book from being tritely inspirational—Weylyn often reads like a socially anxious Jesus—is the fact that, over and over, things don’t work out according to anyone’s plans. Just like bad weather, animals, and sudden gardens, unintended consequences follow him throughout his life. His friends and family are more than willing to take the risk, but Weylyn is terrified of accidentally hurting someone with his abilities. He’d rather take to the woods and live like a Disney hermit than chance it.
This isn’t a perfect book. There is one misstep at the end of the book, but I chalk that up to the limitations of having the book narrated by characters other than Weylyn. Readers willing to over look this and Weylyn’s more messiah-like moments will find a quirky, fast read for those of us who don’t trust happy, uncomplicated endings. Over and over, Weylyn’s plot arc demonstrates that love and life are often dangerous. The rewards, however, are much better than a safe loneliness.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review consideration. It will be released 7 November 2017.