Excerpt from Night of the Animals by Bill Broun, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Night of the Animals

by Bill Broun

Night of the Animals by Bill Broun X
Night of the Animals by Bill Broun
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2016, 560 pages

    Apr 2017, 592 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

CUTHBERT HAD DONE the proper prep for his assault on the zoo, or at least he thought so. A few meters through the dense shrubbery lay a secret grotto that he had fashioned earlier that month inside yew and hazel hedgings and a few coppiced beeches, scooping dirt with his dry hands and charily snapping twigs. He kept an emergency bottle of Flot stashed there, and a powerful pair of bolt cutters. His plan was to wait until darkness, cut his way in, then break open as many enclosures as possible—especially the otters'. It was the most organized thing he had done in decades. One couldn't spot the grotto from either the park or the zoo's interior. It sat a meter from the zoo's sturdy iron perimeter fence, close to the jackals—and to a rare gap in the iron fence. But the grotto might as well have been in France, such were the difficulties of getting to it now.

Cuthbert shoved forward a few more paces until the crisscrossing hazel branches budged no more and encapsulated him in a green foliate cage. For a moment, he thought he saw a boy, a thin boy with dark hair, shoving along with him a few meters away in the shrubbery. "Dryst," Cuthbert said. "Look at me. Over here!" Then the boy vanished. Every so often, a stressed branch would crack and loosen the cage's "bars," allowing Cuthbert to move again. At one point, tiny twigs jammed up both nostrils and his mouth, making it appear as if he were disgorging leaves from his face like some kind of garden goblin.

"Oh, shittin 'ell," he gasped, spitting out flecks of shredded leaves. The beast of first Flot withdrawal was upon him, too, pulling him downward, tearing at his nerves, seizing his muscles—including his fragile heart. A singularly vicious facet of Flot addiction was its two-bell- curved dual-withdrawal syndrome. It crushed the newly and the long-term sober alike with two acute phases sometimes a decade or more apart. Yet the dual-withdrawal also allowed ex-addicts past the initial psychosis-laden hell of withdrawal No. 1, an island of peace and sanity, before dragging them into the furies of withdrawal No. 2.

For so many years, from the last days of the era of the powerful prime ministers and the European Union, up through the Great Reclamation and the Property Revolts and the slow rise of the various suicide cults of the 2020s, and on through the Second Restoration to the new king in 2028, the ramshackle Cuthbert had somehow survived. All those decades, he'd searched doggedly for his long-lost elder brother, Drystan, who, in his mind, had vanished when they were children, way back in the late 1960s. Since then, after leaving the Black Country, he had learned to suck in and oxygenate himself on London's quotidian pathologies as naturally as breath. The filthy old town seemed to nourish him, to fuel the hunt for his brother. He took in every coarse 'oi of speech, ate every chip-butty** bag of cheap potato joy, learned every mucky machination to blag† Flot—all of it, fluently and helplessly, and it had all led to this brambled corner beside the beasts. If the entire history of London, from the Iron Age to the age of digital skin, had a meaning, this spot, as far as Cuthbert knew, was precisely where it stood. This, he was certain, was where his dear long-lost brother Drystan would come back and stay.

GOD KNOWS, the paroxysms of the 2020s and Henry IX had sucked nearly every other last drop of energy from Britain's tired veins. While thousands of artists, philosophers, and authors had joined the suicide cults or the ranks of brazen self-promoters on WikiNous—the implanted, all-purpose comm-network that grew within human tissue—the most original minds faced almost total indifference.

WikiNous had long ceased being freely moderated by "Wiki-Nousians." Its inner workings were no longer open-sourced; they were "open-branded" and edited vertically by subeditors obedient to Henry IX and the aristocracy and rules, rules, rules. The sending of messages in Britain had become expensive, tightly centralized, and censored; in America, India, Scandinavia, and parts of the Far East, WikiNous's relative freedom had brought its own set of problems (particularly, the cults), but even there, open network protocols were dead and the Internet golden age was long gone. Cryptographically protected WikiNous "stalks" had replaced the URLs. Among Britons, WikiNous mainly spread Harry9's official views and a boorish brand of light "newsertainement."

From Night of the Animals by Bill Broun. 2016 by William Douglas Broun. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Zoos of the Future

BookBrowse Sale!

Join BookBrowse and discover exceptional books for just $3/mth!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Crossings
    by Ben Goldfarb
    We've all seen it—a dead animal carcass on the side of the road, clearly mowed down by a car. ...
  • Book Jacket: Wifedom
    by Anna Funder
    When life became overwhelming for writer, wife, and mother Anna Funder in the summer of 2017, she ...
  • Book Jacket: The Fraud
    The Fraud
    by Zadie Smith
    In a recent article for The New Yorker, Zadie Smith joked that she moved away from London, her ...
  • Book Jacket: Wasteland
    by Oliver Franklin-Wallis
    Globally, we generate more than 2 billion tons of household waste every year. That annual total ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Fair Rosaline
by Natasha Solomons
A subversive, powerful untelling of Romeo and Juliet by New York Times bestselling author Natasha Solomons.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Digging Stars
    by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

    Blending drama and satire, Digging Stars probes the emotional universes of love, friendship, family, and nationhood.

  • Book Jacket

    The Wren, the Wren
    by Anne Enright

    An incandescent novel about the inheritance of trauma, wonder, and love across three generations of women.

Win This Book
Win Moscow X

25 Copies to Give Away!

A daring CIA operation threatens chaos in the Kremlin. But can Langley trust the Russian at its center?



Solve this clue:

A M I A Terrible T T W

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.