When a Category 5 tornado ravaged Mercy, Oklahoma, no family in the small town lost more than the McClouds. Their home and farm were demolished, and orphaned siblings Darlene, Jane, and Cora made media headlines. Their brother, Tucker, soon abandoned his sisters and disappeared.

On the three-year anniversary of the tornado, a cosmetics factory outside of Mercy is bombed, and the lab animals trapped within are released. Tucker reappears, injured from the blast, and seeks the help of nine-year-old Cora. Caught up in the thrall of her charismatic brother, whom she has desperately missed, Cora agrees to accompany Tucker on a cross-country mission to make war on human civilization. 

 

The Wildlands is another remarkable literary thriller from critically acclaimed writer Abby Geni, one that examines what happens when one family becomes trapped in the tenuous space between the human and animal worlds.

In The Lightkeepers, we follow Miranda, a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands, an exotic and dangerous archipelago off the coast of California, for a one-year residency capturing the landscape. Her only companions are the scientists studying there, odd and quirky refugees from the mainland living in rustic conditions; they document the fish populations around the island, the bold trio of sharks called the Sisters that hunt the surrounding waters, and the overwhelming bird population who, at times, create the need to wear hard hats as protection from their attacks.  

 

The Lightkeepers upends the traditional structure of a mystery novel —an isolated environment, a limited group of characters who might not be trustworthy, a death that may or may not have been accidental, a balance of discovery and action —while also exploring wider themes of the natural world, the power of loss, and the nature of recovery. It is a luminous debut novel from a talented and provocative new writer.

 

The Last Animal by Abby Geni is that rare literary find—a remarkable series of stories unified around one theme: people who use the interface between the human and the natural world to contend with their modern challenges in love, loss, and family life. Terror Birds” tracks the dissolution of a marriage set against an ostrich farm in the sweltering Arizona desert; “Dharma at the Gate” features the tempest of young love as a teenaged girl must choose between man’s best friend, her damaged boyfriend, and a beckoning future; “Captivity” follows an octopus handler at an aquarium still haunted by the disappearance of her brother years ago.

 

Unflinching, exciting, ambitious and yet heartfelt, The Last Animal guides readers through a menagerie of settings and landscapes as it underscores the connection among all living things.

© Copyright 2013 Abby Geni. All rights reserved.