Review: Beasts of the Earth by James Wade

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

Beasts of the Earth tells the story of Harlen LeBlanc, a dependable if quiet employee of the Carter Hills High School’s grounds department, whose carefully maintained routine is overthrown by an act of violence. As the town searches for answers, LeBlanc strikes out on his own to exonerate a friend, while drawing the eyes of the law to himself and fending off unwelcome voices that call for a sterner form of justice.

Twenty years earlier, young Michael Fischer dreads the return of his father from prison. 

He spends his days stealing from trap lines in the Louisiana bayou to feed his fanatically religious mother and his cherished younger sister, Doreen. When his father eventually returns, an evil arrives in Michael’s life that sends him running from everything he has ever known. He is rescued by a dying poet and his lover, who extract from him a promise: to be a good man, whatever that may require.

Beasts of the Earth deftly intertwines these stories, exploring themes of time, fate, and free will, to produce a revelatory conclusion that is both beautiful and heartbreaking.



Guest Reviewer Tom’s Thoughts:

Beasts of the Earth by James Wade is an engaging story of life on the Bayou with excellent character development coupled with a very real understanding of life struggles in a poor rural existence. Wade also deftly weaves two separate stories together in a fashion that is as surprising as it is clever.

Where author Wade shines is his rendering of the emotional connection between his characters. His understanding that the pain and squalor of existence in the world he describes understandably makes this deep human involvement a prerequisite for survival.

The best example of this is Wades depiction of the relationship between Remus and Deacon or “Deek”. Wade’s writing here is masterful as he reveals in very poignant exchanges, each characters’ stubbornness, as well as their staunch loyalty and unbreakable bond.

One distraction from an otherwise good read is Wade’s frequent, prosaic use of flowery detail to describe the natural landscape. Many of these descriptions are entire paragraphs long and continue on to the point that they became a distraction for me. Still, the story premise and characters kept my interest throughout, and I would recommend it.

About the Author: James Wade lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and daughter. He is the author of Beasts of the Earth (2022), River, Sing Out (2021) and All Things Left Wild (2020), a winner of the MPIBA Reading the West Award for Debut Fiction and a recipient of the Spur Award for Best Historical Novel from the Western Writers of America. Get more information about the author at his website:

Represented by Mark Gottlieb with Trident Media Group. 

© Copyright 2022 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.

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