Published by St. Martin's Press on November 14th 2017
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.
“My name is Weylen Grey, and I’m near-sighted, allergic to ragweed, and my feet are flat. I can’t cast spells, I don’t grant wishes, and I’m not sure if I can turn a frog into a prince, but I have no intention of finding out. Some people like to think I can affect the weather, but I’d still recommend a a good, old-fashioned umbrella for keeping the rain off. It’s also been said that I can talk to animals, but if you want me to teach your dog to speak English, I’m sorry. You’re out of luck.”
The moment I read Renee’s review, I knew I had to read Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance. Fantasy/magical realism is not one of my usual genres but since reading such beautifully written books as The Bear and The Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and When the Moon Was Ours, I’ve been much more open to it.
I’ve always been fascinated by stories of children who are raised by wolves. There’s just something so compelling about the notion of a child being raised without exposure to the often selfish and misguided values of humans. There’s such beauty in the simple and authentic ways of the pack. These stories always conjure somewhat romantic notions of pure family relationships, friendships, and living in harmony with nature.
The story is told from alternating perspectives of the characters central to Weylen’s life from childhood to old age. I loved his supporting cast. They were supporting in the sense that they helped to carry the story but more importantly in the sense they supported Weylen himself. So often in books with gifted or “different” protagonists, we see the character become isolated and lonely as a result of rejection. Though Weylen certainly faced some social obstacles, he had a beautiful support network to nurture and love him.
As for Weylen himself, he was a character to love. There were times when my heart broke as he struggled with living with his own powers and differences. The sense of strength he conveyed tempered with humility and gentleness endeared him to me to no end.
I won’t comment on the plot. The blurb tells you all you need to know. This is a book to begin with as little outside influence as possible. All you need is an open heart and mind.
It’s very difficult to believe Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is Ruth Emmie Lang’s debut. Her writing is both mature and easy to read; sophisticated without being pretentious or overly flowery. It’s rare to find a book that can really tug at your heartstring while being hopeful and refreshing at the same time. That is where this book really shines.
I can’t wait to see what Ms. Lang comes out with next. I believe the contact info section on her website indicates that the film/TV rights may have been optioned. I do hope that’s the case because I think this book would translate beautifully.