Published by Liveright on March 23rd 2015
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Over a decade after leaving behind a crime-ridden past, Bill Reed lives a quiet life tending to an animal sanctuary in Idaho. Opened by his uncle, the sanctuary is home to injured wildlife that have helped rescue Bill just as much as he helped them. Despite attempts to forget his past, when a childhood friend is released from prison, Bill is forced to face the actions he took and decisions he made so many years before.
From the first lines of its haunting opening, written in second-person perspective, The Animals establishes its overarching themes. Can we truly move forward from our past or is it bound to catch up with us? In scenes that flash between decades, both moving forward until they converge, Kiefer combines the beauty of literary fiction with the suspense of a crime novel.
“What you have come for is death. You might try to convince yourself otherwise but there is no truth but the truth that is, and yet still you will come down the mountain, down from the animals, as if you might encounter something other than what you already know will be, your hope the clinging desires of a fool.”
Though the shifts in perspective feel slightly disjointed at first, the purpose becomes clear as the novel progresses and each return to the telling you grows more ominous than the last. Bill’s intense relationship with the animals he cares for, the new life he’s built and the past he made every attempt to leave behind collide in a powerful conclusion that highlights Kiefer’s incredible talent. One of the best novels of 2015 so far, The Animals is a fantastic example of powerful story in the hands of a master writer.