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Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Each month our staff picks additional recommendations based on our Dandy Roll Book Club pick. We're recommending Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance for those of our members who enjoyed the aspects of magical realism in our June pick, Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn.

Beast of Extraordinary Circumstance is a coming of age story about a boy raised by wolves told by those who witnessed the fantastical events of his life. It's one of my favorite examples of the genre of magical realism. It has a great cast of well-developed characters, and a comforting storyline that reads like a fairytale.

(Bonus: it also stars a pet pig named Merlin!)

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.

That tornado was the first of many strange events that seem to follow Weylyn from town to town, although he doesn’t like to take credit. As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places. From freak storms to trees that appear to grow over night, Weylyn’s unique abilities are a curiosity at best and at worst, a danger to himself and the woman he loves. But Mary doesn’t care. Since Weylyn saved her from an angry wolf on her eleventh birthday, she’s known that a relationship with him isn’t without its risks, but as anyone who’s met Weylyn will tell you, once he wanders into your life, you’ll wish he’d never leave.

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.

  • Paperback, 368 pages
  • St. Martin's Griffin, 2018