Greek Mythology is awesome. There are gods and heroes, epic battles that span the cosmos, and intensely human stories that reveal the truths of our deepest nature. But sometimes as you’re cruising through those fantastic tales of yore, you reach a point somewhere around the end of The Odyssey where you think, “You know what this story really needs? More squirrels.”
At least you do if you’re Jon Evans, author of the ridiculously wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable Beasts of New York.
The Beasts of New York is kind of a parallel to The Odyssey, a story about one squirrel’s epic journey across the terrifying landscape of New York City toward his Central Park home. And when I say “epic”, I do not mean it in the internet-dweeb “epic fail dude!” meaning of the word. I mean “epic” as it was intended, a sweeping panorama of sights and adventure, a tale of soaring heroism in the face of insurmountable dangers and at times almost certain death.
Our hero is Patch, a simple squirrel who wakes one day to find that the food is all gone. All his storehouses and hidy-holes have been robbed of their nuts. And what starts as a simple investigation into the sudden disappearance of his food soon turns into a struggle against some of the most powerful players in the animal kingdom.
Along his journey Patch meets a fascinating litany of colorful animal characters. He befriends The Queen of All Cats, a haughty house cat who believes she is the ruler of the cat kingdom. He receives help from an empty-headed pigeon. He does battle with a sewer full of centipedes. And he makes peace with the greatest enemy the squirrel has ever known: the dog.
The story is amazing but beyond that the style Jon Evans employs in crafting his story is perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book. The Beasts of New York is subtitled “A Children’s Story For Adults” and it truly lives up to that moniker. The prose employed is simple and childlike, and it helps to illustrate how truly innocent and naive Patch is about the world outside, while at the same time providing an unsettling contrast with the grim and horrifying events that befall him.
Usually this is the part of the review where I say something bad about the book, but I cannot think of anything bad to say. I am sure The Beasts of New York is not a perfect book, but it is beyond me to point out its flaws. This book left me breathless to the very end and more importantly it changed the way I approach my own writing.
Reading it was an altogether wonderful experience for me, and I cannot fathom that it might be otherwise for you. I would recommend it to anyone who still has the tiniest spark of childlike fascination in his soul. The Beasts of New York will fan that spark into a flame and leave you breathless with wonder.
Bottom line? Read it! You can download The Beasts of New York 100% for free from http://beastsofnewyork.com/. Didja hear that? It’s free. How can you pass that up?