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. – Goodreads
I have a soft spot for stories like these.
The whimsical type of stories that feel like modern day fairy tales. The rare Americana magic story. You can hear cicadas, feel the grass under bare feet, see the lightning bugs, smell the “just before a rainstorm” air while reading this book.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a beautiful novel about the life of Weylyn Grey. It could have very easily veered into cliche. However, it managed to stay on tiptoes along the wall between logical and whimsy. Weylyn feels real, despite his almost mythical life. Despite all the magical, unreasonable things happening around both him and the other characters, they handle the situations reasonably (managing to stay clear of “Zany” or “Whacky” situations for the sake of plot entertainment).
This is truly a story about characters, from those ‘telling’ the story to the main character himself, Weylyn. Extra credit should be given to Lang for accurately depicting the main characters at various points of their lives, starting from childhood through adulthood. It’s a testament that the characters felt rightly aged at each point. Another feat is the reader’s empathy for Weylyn – we never hear from him personally, and likely no one will have lived a life like his, but we still feel for him and root for his success.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoyed Daniel Wallace’s (or the film version by Tim Burton) Big Fish. And while I haven’t read Forrest Gump, the author Wallace Groom also praised Lang’s take of “American Folktale” – I feel he likely has a good grip on the genre.
I will also add, I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth Emmie Lang at the 2019 Ohioana Book Festival.