*** AMERICAN FICTION AWARD FINALIST FOR BEST NEW FICTION 2021 ***
*** SHELF UNBOUND AWARD FINALIST FOR BEST FICTION 2021 ***
*** LONGLISTED FOR THE CIBA (CHANTICLEER INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS) SOMERSET PRIZE FOR BEST LITERARY & CONTEMPORARY FICTION 2021 ***
Thieves, Beasts & Men is a story that challenges our assumptions of motherhood when far removed from the expectations of society. It explores the notion of regret, and the choices one might make to atone for past mistakes, no matter the cost.
Adelaide has given up on her life of solitude in the Blue Ridge Mountain, content to end it all by the river. Her suicide attempt is unsuccessful, but before she can try again, she discovers an animal has been ransacking her garden. A thief, right under her nose! What begins as curiosity soon spirals into an all-out war against the beast destroying her property.
Assuming the interloper to be a bear or mountain lion, nothing can prepare Adelaide for what she traps in her garden: a feral woman, naked, dirty, communicating only with snarls and growls. And tucked within her arms are two feral children. Believing this to be her opportunity for a fresh start—and her redemption at motherhood —Adelaide captures the children, kidnapping them from their mother.
Though challenged by caring for two scared and uncommunicable children, she’s grateful for her new life. But she must stay vigilant because an angry wild woman now stalks her cabin each night, looking for a way inside.
One day, Adelaide sees a man hiding in the shadows, watching her new family from afar. An evil man from her youth. She thought she’d never have to face him again, but she was wrong. Now Adelaide must prepare for another kind of war, against a very different kind of beast. Because Adelaide knows from experience that he will come for the children.
Unless the wild woman gets to them first.
"Thieves, Beasts & Men is a graceful and brutal debut. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. You will fall in love with Adelaide, the deeply flawed heroine. And the wild family just may break your heart. Dark and powerful, yet light and readable. A huge achievement."
- EVIE WYLD, author of The Bass Rock, Everything Is Teeth, and All the Birds, Singing
"I devoured this book in one sitting. I can't remember the last time a novel grabbed me by the throat with such ferocity and refused to let go until the final page. Thieves, Beasts & Men is a heart-pounding, utterly unique page-turner, as immersive as a dream and as indelible as a tattoo."
- ABBY GENI, author of The Last Animal, The Lightkeepers, and The Wildlands
"An old woman alone in the woods, two feral children and their mother, all of them traumatized by a terrifying monster. In one sense, Thieves, Beasts & Men tells a horror story as old as time. But in Leah's competent hands this darkly exhilarating fantasy becomes a new story, one of loneliness and anguish that lingers, of monsters who never go away but loom and threaten forever. She gives us a deep character study of the monsters that also dwell within ourselves, maiming us and causing us to injure or ostracize all others we encounter, even as we look to them for the possibility of second chances."
- KATHERINE FORBES RILEY, author of The Bobcat
"A temporal fairytale whose lyricism is paired with compelling storytelling. The writing is as urgent, deliciously dark, and as extraordinary as its wild setting and willful heroine. You will do best to savor this triumphant debut."
- ALENA DILLON, author of Mercy House and The Happiest Girl in the World
"...What a captivating and haunting read. Within the first few lines, you are thrown into a beautiful darkness with the main character, following her on a journey of discovery and curiosity. Reading each page, I found myself just as curious as Adelaide, dying to know what would happen in the next day, hour, breath. I devoured this entire book in a night because I couldn’t put it down. One more chapter… ok one more chapter… The illustrations and handwritten details included by the author are a truly unique touch. I highly recommend this book. Unlike anything I’ve ever read before...As this story takes you through various twists and turns with every chapter, you really do find yourself asking what really defines humanity."
-DuffRunsTough - B&N Reviewer
"This book is unlike anything I’ve read. The characters are so interesting and yet so believable. It truly had me at the first page. This book is one you won’t want to put down until the last page then wish you hadn’t finished it! Very well done debut novel and I can wait for more!!"
-Sally, Amazon Reviewer
"I couldn’t put this book down and actually finished it the same day I started it! The story grabs you from page one and takes you on a wild ride that twists and turns in unexpected ways. I fell in love with the characters and the way the author brought everything to life. I highly recommend giving this book a chance. You won’t be sorry!"
-Jen, Amazon Reviewer
"Wow, what a fantastic read! Leah's style was such a pleasure to experience. I found myself truly immersed, a page turner indeed. The setting, the characters, the message - all weaved together so artfully. I look forward to her next work."
-Jennifer, Amazon Reviewer
"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I believe this book will be a huge bestseller."
-Brittany D, NetGalley Reviewer
"What a captivating and haunting read. Within the first few lines, you are thrown into a beautiful darkness with the main character, following her on a journey of discovery and curiosity. Reading each page, I found myself just as curious as Adelaide, dying to know what would happen in the next day, hour, breath. I devoured this entire book in a night because I couldn’t put it down. One more chapter… ok one more chapter… The illustrations and handwritten details included by the author are a truly unique touch. I highly recommend this book. Unlike anything I’ve ever read before."
-Jen, Amazon Reviewer
"I couldn’t put it down! So intense, the story sucks you in and you just want to keep going to see what happens next. The characters are complex, it’s hard to say more without spoiling the story. I’m hoping there is a 2nd book that either continues the story or tells us more about Adelaide. Definitely a worthy read!"
-ErEt, Amazon Reviewer
"...This novel is haunting and suspenseful. The author’s ethereal artwork contributes to the eerie aura of the setting. Adelaide’s story addresses the sense of melancholy that accompanies isolation, something that has become all too relatable in the face of lockdown and quarantine.
Leah has given us a beautifully written meditation on what it means to be human. Her thought-provoking work is a worthy addition to your reading list."
-Vicki, NetGalley Reviewer
"I spent the last 24 hours battling muscle spasms in my leg from a fall earlier this week. This book, this wonderfully compelling story helped me get through it. I highly recommend that you read it."
-Kathy - Facebook Reviewer
"...This was a uniquely told story, one that is about violation and choices in the aftermath of horrific acts. It is about escape because there are many forms. Did Adelaide chose this meager existence as punishment or therapy? Some turn to their animal nature to protect what is dearest to their souls. Without giving the entire tale away, it is about taking back a part of yourself that was stolen long ago. It’s about a motherhood amidst ruins, of the self. It is a brutal tale but well written."
"I snagged this book on NetGalley on a whim, intrigued by the premise, and it did not disappoint.
The pace of the story was excellent, giving that slow burn at the beginning that finds you hooked and you don't remember at what point it happened. There are just enough layers to the story to create intrigue and suspense, and we hear the voices of both Adelaide and the children as they struggle to understand each others' languages. There is not so much a twist as an unveiling of a decades-long secret of Adelaide's which introduces some unsavoury characters and binds her to the wild woman.
We never find out the wild woman's backstory (mainly because she doesn't speak a human language) but I didn't mind that as it's not what the story is about. It's an exploration of the concept of 'civilisation' and whether we are really better off living in it, and the idea that sometimes what we believe is best for people can end up being detrimental. The story also examined the idea of the Beast, how this can take different forms, and that the Beast isn't necessarily the one running around dirty and naked, howling at the moon.
What a wonderful surprise of a book, and a fantastic debut from Shan Leah."
-Courtney, Goodreads Reviewer