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Publisher's Summary

“This tragicomic novel is heartfelt, touching, and delightfully quirky. You’ll fall in love with the offbeat cast of characters (both living and dead) and find yourself rooting for them right through the last page.”—Good Housekeeping (Book Club pick)

A lost young woman returns to small-town New Hampshire under the strangest of circumstances in this one-of-a-kind novel of life, death, and whatever comes after from the acclaimed author of Rabbit Cake.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR (SO FAR) BY BOOKRIOT

It was a source of entertainment at Maple Street Cemetery. Both funny and sad, the kind of story we like best. 

Natural-born healer Emma Starling once had big plans for her life, but she’s lost her way. A medical school dropout, she’s come back to small-town Everton, New Hampshire, to care for her father, who is dying from a mysterious brain disease. Clive Starling has been hallucinating small animals, as well as having visions of the ghost of a long-dead naturalist, Ernest Harold Baynes, once known for letting wild animals live in his house. This ghost has been giving Clive some ideas on how to spend his final days.

Emma arrives home knowing she must face her dad’s illness, her mom’s judgment, and her younger brother’s recent stint in rehab, but she’s unprepared to find that her former best friend from high school is missing, with no one bothering to look for her. The police say they don’t spend much time looking for drug addicts. Emma’s dad is the only one convinced the young woman might still be alive, and Emma is hopeful he could be right. Someone should look for her, at least. Emma isn’t really trying to be a hero, but somehow she and her father bring about just the kind of miracle the town needs.

Set against the backdrop of a small town in the throes of a very real opioid crisis, Unlikely Animals is a tragicomic novel about familial expectations, imperfect friendships, and the possibility of resurrecting that which had been thought irrevocably lost.

©2022 Annie Hartnett (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“A quirky, poignant novel about family, community and love for our animal friends.”The Washington Post

“This is a big novel doing big things. It bears some similarity to Hartnett’s much- loved first novel, Rabbit Cake. . . . But Unlikely Animals is a broader, brassier, and even more fiercely tender story. In this, her second novel, Hartnett lands an astonishing leap as a storyteller.”The Rumpus 

“Wistfully charming . . . This unapologetically genre-bending tribute to life and death, and the beautiful weirdness found in both, has potential to spark exceptional book club discussions.”Shelf Awareness 

What listeners say about Unlikely Animals

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Delightful

This is a charming, quirky, extremely original life affirming pleasure of a listening experience. Thoroughly enjoyable. Beautifully written and narrated.

3 people found this helpful

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Love This Book

It was hard to stop listening when I needed to do other things. I enjoyed these characters and was eager to follow the story as it developed.

Mark Bramhall and Kirby Heyborne did a great job as Narrators.

Thank you Annie Hartnett for
this wonderful step into another world for a few hours.

2 people found this helpful

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Charming book for animal lovers

This was such a fun read and I flew through it. The narration was brilliant and the characters are a lovely balance of realness and whimsy. A beautiful portrayal of the complexity of various relationships between humans and animals.

2 people found this helpful

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so glad I finished this book

a really good nonsensical ramble that ended up coming together, making sense and being uplifting

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Unlikely Animals was wonderful

wasn't sure if I was going to like this strange tale but it was wonderful, totally enjoyed it..

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Engaging!

Thoroughly enjoyed this quirky, laugh-out loud tale of humanity and love and being there for each other.

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Love the characters and imagination

This book did exactly as I hoped. Didn't have to think too much, an easy listen, and, at the end, brought a smile in an otherwise busy day.

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Slow start - ends with hilarious bang

Almost gave up as first chapters plod along slowly. Kept going and storyline picked up with intro of a 5th grade classroom full of spunk. Plot starts to pick up speed mid way and gallops to a hilarious finish line

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Heartwarming and Quirky

What an entertaining read! Each character was so well developed and entertaining! After Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelly Van Pelt this is one of the best listens I had recently.

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Quirky and surprisingly deep

A lovely quirky story about grief. The Titanic scene at the end left me laugh/crying.