Strange Beasts of China
Yan Ge
Melville House (July 13, 2021)
Reviewed by Ray Palen

Yan Ge has created something I guarantee you have never read before.  A surreal look at actual, monstrous creatures living amongst mankind during modern times—in this case, modern China.

An amateur female cryptozoologist is attempting to make a name for herself by compiling a work that includes the many different breeds of creatures living nearly inconspicuous to humans every day. Each chapter deals with a different breed of strange beasts, and these creatures range from purely horrific to downright sad and easy to sympathize with.

Some of these beasts include:

  • Sorrowful Beasts who live in and around the City of the Dead, a place where all sorts of beings live eternally. These creatures are not happy and long to invade mankind and possess a soul whenever possible.
  • Joyous Beasts are quite unlike their Sorrowful brothers.  They often take the shape of the legendary Phoenix and can speak several languages.  However, they cannot survive for long on their own and seek out human beings as parasite hosts.
  • Impasse Beasts have few words and enormous appetites.  They feed on despair, which keeps humans from destroying them.  If they were to die, the city would be consumed by death and destruction.
  • Thousand League Beasts are heard to be extinct, but when they did walk the earth, they were purported to see thousands of leagues ahead of themselves and even into the future.  Their far-sightedness led to catastrophe, and they were slaughtered by other tribes of beasts.
  • Returning Beasts only come out at night and are small, feeble creatures.  They are descendants of ancient Tomb robbers and often spend time plundering gravesites.

Each of these beasts, and the many others covered within this unique novel, are brought to vivid life by the deep imagination of author Yan Ge.  The protagonist even interacts with some of these creatures, which makes for both memorable and horrific instances that are the things of both dreams and nightmares.

About Ray Palen

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