A violent, epic, action-packed urban quest full of very eccentric, often hilarious, extremely dangerous characters who also happen to be animals -- the wildlife of New York City, to be exact.
'Beasts of New York is about a squirrel named Patch who, out of desperation and need, adventures beyond his home in Central Kingdom to try and save it. While it seems that fate is conspiring against him, taking him further from his home than any squirrel has traveled, his journey is a necessary step to saving all of Central Kingdom from the evil trying to consume it....
'This book reads like a fantasy novel, even though it is set in New York City. The horrors that Patch encounters at times seemed so unreal to me, despite knowing where they were. Seeing them from another pair of eyes gave some things a new air of terror and others one of wonder.
'This is not a light novel. It is very dark, and at times absolutely horrifying, but I connected so much to Patch as a hero that, in the end, I was left with tears of relief and happiness in my eyes.'
My initial reaction when I received Jon Evans' Beasts of New York in the mail was, what a beautiful book! With the rise of e-reading, I've long believed that the future of print publishing is in books that are practically works of art. [...]So, when I saw the absolutely beautiful way Porcupine's Quill printed Beasts of New York, I fell in love with the textured, cream-coloured pages and the ornate letters that opened each section. I also love the wood engravings by Jim Westergard. I was totally grossed out by the one of the rats, but overall, they're beautiful. I love how realistic the fur looks, and am amazed whenever I remember that these images were originally created on wood. This book is a work of art, an example of the kind of reading experience e-books can't offer (an image of a wood engraving on a screen will also be beautiful, but not quite as beautiful as on this type of paper, I think).
I was afraid the book would end up being like a nature documentary. Luckily, however, the story becomes much more involved than that. I quickly became intrigued by Patch's adventures, and loved seeing New York City through his eyes. Cars become "death machines" and apartment buildings are "mountains." In the hands of a lesser writer, I can imagine such descriptions being cutesy, but Evans pulls it off. At times, even I felt like I was traveling in a hostile, utterly alien environment, and I grew up in a city!
Beasts of New York is a contemporary urban fable, geared for adults, but also a story that I think mature kids will appreciate. There aren't a lot of adult books starring animals, and Evans' animals seem less anthropomorphized than the books and movies I remember. Beasts is an exciting tale overall, and a beautiful, beautiful book.
'More than anything else, Evans's book is about communication, physical, verbal, and instinctual; about gossip, eavesdropping, and a series of messages sent, received, misinterpreted, and mistimed. How his various creatures find their ''voices'' in their moments of need and manage to be understood by each other and their enemies is artfully imagined and constructed.
'Through the eyes and hearts of Evans's furry characters, Beasts of New York gets at a lot of complex stuff: issues of identity, specifically nature versus nurture, are explored without being heavy-handed, and the real-life distances between bravery and cowardice, loyalty and disloyalty, hope and despair are often revealed to be just a hair's breadth apart.'
The best part about this book, though, is what saves Patch over and over from being preyed upon by bigger animals: his ability to communicate across the species barrier. Patch is able to speak bird, which earns him respect and memorability from the birds he encounters. It is because Patch is such an efficient communicator that allows him to make friends with the other animals he meets, who turn out to be helpful acquaintances in the long run.
Early on in the book, Evans speaks of animal communication, in that it is not made up of words or sounds, the way human language is. Instead, animals communicate with each other using a system of sounds, movements and body languages. As a human reader interpreting Patch's discussions with other animals, I always got a kick out of what they would say to each other. When Patch meets a dog in the street, the dog strains to the end of his leash, shouting "Kill you and eat you! Kill you and eat you!" at Patch over and over. This made me giggle, as it's pretty much exactly what I would imagine a dog would say to a squirrel in such a state!
Since reading Patch's amazing adventure story, I have noticed that I now look at animals in a whole new way.