Night of the Animals
by Bill Broun

Overview -

Named a Best Book of 2016 by Slate

"A story as wildly moving and singular as an animal's eyes in the dark." -- The New York Times

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.  Read more...

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More About Night of the Animals by Bill Broun

Named a Best Book of 2016 by Slate

"A story as wildly moving and singular as an animal's eyes in the dark." -- The New York Times

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.

  • ISBN-13: 9780062400796
  • ISBN-10: 0062400797
  • Publisher: Ecco Press
  • Publish Date: July 2016
  • Page Count: 560
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Science Fiction - General
Books > Fiction > Dystopian

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-05-23
  • Reviewer: Staff

Broun’s debut novel mixes mystical and maniacal forces in a swirl of futuristic imagery featuring talking animals. In 2052, the last great repository of animals on Earth is the London Zoo. The Heaven’s Gate suicide cult has been systematically exterminating wildlife, along with themselves, in a search for a higher plane of existence. At the same time, nonagenarian Cuthbert Handley, addicted to a hallucinogen called Flot, searches for Drystan, his lost brother. With the comet Urga-Rampos in the sky, Cuthbert hears the voices of animals as his search leads him to the zoo, where an all-consuming desire to free the talkative creatures seizes him. Surrounding Cuthbert is a Britain under the totalitarian regime of Henry IX, or Henry9 as he is known on WikiNous, the heavily regulated network that has replaced the Internet. As Cuthbert works his way through the zoo, snapping chain-links with bolt cutters, he converses with the jackals, penguins, and an articulate sand cat as he looks for his brother and an elusive otter prince. Through precise and eloquent prose and a hint of political satire, Broun creates a near future filled with bioelectric technology and characters with patois as diverse as their desires. Broun’s novel is strange, witty, and engrossing, skipping through madness and into the realm of myth. (July)

BookPage Reviews

The mad call of the wild

In the near future, London labors under the rule of a brutal king. Suicide cults, spawned in America, are making their way around the world on a mission to kill animals as part of their path to ascendance. While technological marvels abound, access to them has been corrupted in ways that reward the rich and punish the poor. 

At the bottom of this decadent society exist the Indigents, a growing segment of people addicted to an insidious hallucinogen, Flôt. Among the lowest of these poor and lost is Cuthbert Handley, whose life was upended when a childhood accident claimed his beloved brother decades earlier. Now homeless and deep in the clutches of a Flôt addiction, Cuthbert begins to hear the voices of animals in the London Zoo, which has become the last repository of many species on Earth. Their calls drive Cuthbert to an action that will either plunge society into chaos, or save it.

A magnificently textured story, Night of the Animals benefits from author Bill Broun’s liberal use of Midlands dialect, which reinforces Cuthbert’s unshakable connection to his past and its native folklore. Likewise, the animals’ speech is tethered to their origins and experience. As the distinction between the voices of the creatures and the internal whispers of Cuthbert’s addiction fades, Broun maintains a remarkable balance between magic and madness. This strange tale is both cautionary and captivating.


This article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews