Invisible Beasts

256 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $14.95
ISBN: 9781934137802


ISBN: 9781934137819

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Invisible Beasts is a strange and beautiful meditation on love and seeing, a hybrid of fantasy and field guide, novel and essay, treatise and fable. With one hand it offers a sad commentary on environmental degradation, while with the other it presents a bright, whimsical, and funny exploration of what it means to be human. It’s wonderfully written, crazily imagined, and absolutely original.”

Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See and The Shell Collector

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“This environmental fable—as if Where the Wild Things Are had been written by Rachel Carson—is a lyrical field guide . . . as well as a commentary on extinction and being alive.”

O, The Oprah Magazine

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“Muir astounded this reader. Liltingly physical, metaphorically sound, elusively knowing, her language is paint and clay and vibration.”

Dublin Literary Award Longlist citation, Hartford Public Library

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“[An] imaginative menagerie comes to life in [Muir’s] novel Invisible Beasts.”


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“Wonderful and unusual. . . . [Invisible Beasts] is full of a sense of wonder, and has lyrical, passionate, and often funny descriptions of animals and the connections between people and animals.”

Orion Magazine

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“Vividly portrayed.”


“A wild and woolly hybrid that refreshingly defies classification. . . . Compelling throughout . . . it’s the literary lovechild of Lewis Carroll and Rachel Carson filtered through the lens of zoology’s godfather, Darwin himself.”


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“An imaginative, delightful field guide to animals that seem to be visible to only a few people—including amateur naturalist and narrator Sophie. As her detailed descriptions of the fantastic creatures unfold, Sophie reveals a bit about human nature.”

Stanford Magazine

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“At once a celebration of the power of imagination and a requiem for the species we’re losing every day. Both moving and often surprisingly funny, it’s a seductive work of speculative naturalism that has its hands in the dirt and its head in the clouds.”

Kenyon Review

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“Brilliant. . . . With a light, witty, but heartwrenching touch, without preaching or hectoring in any form, Muir reveals, through the stories of her magnificent, funny, endearing invisible animals and their perils and extinctions, the anthropocentric obtuseness and mindless, casual as well as purposeful devastation of the environment and the mass slaughter of life forms, including ourselves, that puts all of us—animals, vegetables, and minerals—in dire peril.”

Women’s Review of Books

“Sensitive and elegant . . . funny and tender. . . . Beasts, a category used here in all its expansiveness, includes everything from the human to the microbe. This book is a wondrous testament to those relationships, interdependencies, and affinities. Invisible Beasts makes the bestiary a document of profoundly human dimensions, and offers to all readers, whether devotees of science or of fantasy, very real pleasures.”


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“An absolute delight. . . . This smart, whimsical novel takes readers not only into a world of ‘invisible beasts’ but into the mind of a charmingly quirky character.”

EcoLit Books

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“An erudite guidebook to the ‘animals’ that walk unseen among us.”


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“Full of language that is at once passionate and precise, flowery and full of information, [Invisible Beasts] is bursting at the seams with a strange duality, a dizzying mash-up of romanticism and science.”


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“Lines blur between the human and animal worlds in this richly detailed debut. . . . In Sophie’s struggles to find her footing in a world only she and a few others can see, Muir expertly pinpoints the frailty of the human condition. This is an amazing feat of imagination.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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“Playfully and thoughtfully underlines the pain and loss of extinction . . . combin[ing] fact and imagination in 20 fables narrated by an amateur naturalist. . . . A marvelous capsule of natural history . . . not to mention crackling suspense.”

Kirkus Reviews

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“The various fantastical beings presented here are described in careful scientific detail with results that are weird, whimsical, and somewhat unsettling. Like very fractured Just So Stories.”

Library Journal

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“Charming and inventive. . . . Sophie, through her whimsical and funny descriptions of her beloved creatures, offers us insights about love, sex, truthfulness, perspective, and the passage of time.”

Rosemary & Reading Glasses

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“At times laugh-out-loud funny . . . and sometimes sad and profound. . . . The animals featured in this book may be fictional, but the stories are strengthened considerably by the obvious scientific knowledge that underpins them.”

Magic Realism

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“Has all the elegant precision of a feat of architecture—or a wonder of nature. . . . The ties that bind us to our fellow invisible beasts are never simple or straightforward; they are, in fact, as unexpected as Muir’s endlessly inventive prose.”

Reading in the Growlery

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“In this twenty-first century, there’s no one like Sharona Muir who can write, in bright accurate language, animals real or imaginary in an updated bestiary that riffs on evolution, extinction, and what it means to be human among other species. We need this view, and you’ll be right there with her on every page of Invisible Beasts.”

John Felstiner, author of Can Poetry Save the Earth?: A Field Guide to Nature Poems

Invisible Beasts is a delightful and stunning feat of environmental imagination, endlessly enjoyable and fascinating. With the deep inventiveness of Ursula Le Guin and the quirky vitality of Annie Dillard, Sharona Muir seduces us into a cautionary world full of creatures, at once fanciful and utterly convincing, who hold unexpected lessons for ourselves.”

Robert Finch, author of A Cape Cod Notebook and co-editor of The Norton Book of Nature Writing

“Many writers are inspired by symbiology—the interdependence of nature, culture, and technology—but Muir’s intelligence and breadth of knowledge are exceptional. You could not find a better little book of ethics, politics, and ecology for our time.”

Regenia Gagnier, author of The Insatiability of Human Wants and Individualism, Decadence and Globalization

“If you’ve lost your capacity to wonder at the myriad forms of life swarming, burrowing, swooping, and gamboling around you—and inside you—then look no further. Equal parts science and imagination, Invisible Beasts takes us on a journey to another world that turns out to be our world, as if seen and experienced for the first time. If you’re interested in what it means to be alive, and share life, then read this book.”

Cary Wolfe, author of Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame and What is Posthumanism?

“This imaginative collection constitutes a bestiary that is as curious as it is unsettling.”

WORD Bookstores (Brooklyn, NY & Jersey City, NJ)

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“This fine book full of humor and love of animals real or imagined would be a great read for any explorer.”

Molly Pace, The Fountainhead Bookstore (Hendersonville, NC)

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“If you are interested in beasts of any kind, imaginary or not, [Muir’s] writing is lovely and the chapters make it an easy book to pick up and read a few chapters at a time.”

Elaine Mattson, Edmonds Bookshop (Edmonds, WA)

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Sophie is an amateur naturalist with a rare genetic gift: the ability to see a marvelous kingdom of invisible, sentient creatures that share a vital relationship with humankind. To record her observations, Sophie creates a personal bestiary and, as she relates the strange abilities of these endangered beings, her tales become extraordinary meditations on love, sex, evolution, extinction, truth, and self-knowledge.

In the tradition of E.O. Wilson’s Anthill, Invisible Beasts is inspiring, philosophical, and richly detailed fiction grounded by scientific fact and a profound insight into nature. The fantastic creations within its pages—an ancient animal that uses natural cold fusion for energy, a species of vampire bat that can hear when their human host is lying, a continent-sized sponge living under the ice of Antarctica—illuminate the role that all living creatures play in the environment and remind us of what we stand to lose if we fail to recognize our entwined destinies.

Dublin Literary Award Longlist

Orion Book Award Finalist

O, The Oprah Magazine “Title to Pick Up Now”

BuzzFeed “Book To Dive Into”

Brooklyn Book Festival “Most Impressive Debut Novelist”

Kenyon Review “Holiday Reading Recommendation”

Publishers Weekly “First Fiction” selection, “Book of the Week,” Book Expo America “Galley to Grab” & “PW Daily Review of the Day”

Library Journal “Top Indie Fiction” selection & “Book That Buzzed at BEA”

Excerpt from Invisible Beasts

Congratulations to Sharona Muir, whose first novel, Invisible Beasts, is a Dublin Literary Award Longlist selection and an Orion Book Award Finalist!

Find out why Publishers Weekly calls author Sharona Muir “A Literary Game Changer” in their “First Fiction: Anticipated Debuts” feature story; view artist Kristen Radtke’s beautiful graphic review of Invisible Beastsand tune in to the PW Radio podcast to listen to the author discuss her work.

Sharona Muir talks to the Kenyon ReviewSentinel-Tribune, BGSU NewsUnstuck magazine, Rosemary & Reading GlassesThe Qwillery, and WBGU-TV’s Northwest Ohio Journal about creating fiction from science, and shares her “Research Notes” for Invisible Beasts with Necessary Fiction.

Read Sharona Muir’s New York Times op-eds: “Swan Lovers” and “The Crazy Puppy and the Flying Boy.”

Enjoy an excerpt from Invisible Beasts in Nautilus magazine.