Terri Schlichenmeyer leaves his review of “The Council of Animals” by Nick McDonell.
All eyes are on you.
Twelve of your peers have decided your fate, and you have no idea what they will say. None of their faces are readable. No one smiles, but then again, there is no grimace. Will they find this court case favorable for you, or will it turn out badly? You can’t tell because, in Nick McDonell’s novel “The Animal Council”, their faces are all hairy.
The abandoned yacht might not be the best place to hold a meeting, but that’s where everyone was told to get together. The dog arrived first, followed by the horse and the bear. The cat arrived just before the crow and the baboon called them all to order.
No one has denied the raven’s argument: humans caused calamity. The Calamity destroyed almost everything, including humans, all but maybe a dozen. And now the animals had to decide if they should eat the humans that were left.
Yes or no ?
Now, you might be surprised that there wasn’t more confusion during the meeting. Making a point, the baboon threw a stick for the dog to bring back. Horse talked all the time about lumps of sugar. When the mice representative arrived, the cat jumped up. It was chaotic, but remember the animals were still able to communicate with each other by speaking grak, and so their behavior, also staggering this time, was natural.
Almost immediately, the dog and the bear said “no” to killing humans. Horse said she loved her jockey but her vote was still “yes”, possibly because the baboon found sugar inside the abandoned yacht. The cat said “no”, the raven said “kill”, and when the mythical creature arrived with its “yes” vote, it appeared the decision was made.
But before the procedure could go any further, the dog, bear and cat escaped to prevent the deaths of humans. They needed time to think, and the Cat Cave was the perfect place to do it …
Although this book is a little hard to describe, let’s try: if “Lord of the Flies” and “The Animal Farm” hatched a clutch of large reptile eggs underground under a theme park, the result would be “The Council of the Flies”. animals “.
That’s not to say this book is weird. It’s just not like everything you’d expect from a book about animal takeover, and its aspects – godas and giant lizards, or maybe blatant, comic-like anthropomorphism. that hooks the story towards the end – feel shocking enough to almost ruin things at times. And yet, because the story of author Nick McDonnell is told by a “historian” looking back at what happened decades after The Calamity, there is laughter here and a near parable that some readers might appreciate.
Some, but not all because, well, okay, this book is a little more than a little different and you’ll need some extra suspense of belief with it. If you can handle it and love allegories, “Animal Council” might be a book to lay your eyes on.
“The Animal Council” by Nick McDonell
circa 2021, Henry Holt $ 25.99 / $ 34.99 Canada 208 pages
Author Nick McDonell. Photo credit to Roopa Gogineni.