In this imaginative debut, the tale of Noah's Ark is brilliantly recast as a story of fate and family, set in a near-future London.
Over the course of a single night in 2052, a homeless man named Cuthbert Handley sets out on an astonishing quest: to release the animals of the London Zoo. When he was a young boy, Cuthbert's grandmother had told him he inherited a magical ability to communicate with the animal world - a gift she called the Wonderments. Ever since his older brother's death in childhood, Cuthbert has heard voices. These maddening whispers must be the Wonderments, he believes, and recently they have promised to reunite him with his lost brother and bring about the coming of a Lord of Animals ... if he fulfills this curious request.
Cuthbert flickers in and out of awareness throughout his desperate pursuit. But his grand plan is not the only thing that threatens to disturb the collective unease of the city. Around him is greater turmoil, as the rest of the world anxiously anticipates the rise of a suicide cult set on destroying the world's animals along with themselves.
Meanwhile, Cuthbert doggedly roams the zoo, cutting open the enclosures, while pressing the animals for information about his brother. Just as this unlikely yet loveable hero begins to release the animals, the cult's members flood the city's streets. Has Cuthbert succeeded in harnessing the power of the Wonderments, or has he only added to the chaos - and sealed these innocent animals' fates?
Night of the Animals is an enchanting and inventive tale that explores the boundaries of reality, the ghosts of love and trauma, and the power of redemption.
listening to the zoo
ON THE LAST DAY OF APRIL OF 2 0 52 , AS A NEWLY discovered comet, Urga-Rampos, neared Earth, a very ill, very old, and very corpulent man started to shoulder his way into the thick hedges around the last public zoo on earth. Cuthbert Handley, a freshly minted nonagenarianand a newly homeless oneclambered into the shrubbery as fast as his large, frail bones allowed (which wasn't very). As the tough branches of yew and hazel abraded his arms and neck and face, he hardly felt them: what stung him was consciousness, every last red, lashing ray of it.
"Crack on," the old man grumbled to himself, struggling to guard his eyes with his immense hands. "Go, you two-boned bletherheadyou get a wriggle on!"
It hurt Cuthbert to think, and it hurt to feel. Most of all, it hurt to remember. For a moment, he saw the boy's facethat sinking face, with black, deep-river eyes. He saw the long lips, as purple and frail as iris petals, and the pale ...
Night of the Animals is the kind of world you hope will never happen, but it’s one to think about, and one that makes you think of the world we actually do live in now. Can we do better than this? Can we get to a place where we can erase these damning possibilities? Can Prince Harry just stay cool? Moreover, it shows us that there can be some beauty in a dark world, and that is its greatest gift.
(Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky).
Full Review (552 words).
Bill Broun's debut novel, Night of the Animals, features the London Zoo - but in the future. What will zoos look like in the years to come? Animals roaming free while visitors lurk underground for a glimpse of them? Fewer elephants and more amphibians? No zoos at all?
According to various sources, including The Guardian and The Christian Science Monitor, these are just a few of the myriad possibilities for zoos in the future.
One of these visions is already commanding attention in Denmark. Billed as a 300-acre expansion of Givskud Zoo, Zootopia, aiming for a 2019 opening, is designed to fool animals into thinking that there are no humans around. Visitors arrive at a bowl-shaped pavilion that offers paths to the different continents ...
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