Sharona Muir's Invisible Beasts is whimsical and very intelligently written. It's hard to pin down exactly what it is. It's a novel, but it reads more like a series of essays. It's fantasy, yet it parallels the human experience; it may, in fact, be the human experience. It's witty and dry, a field guide to those invisible beasts that teach us to see things differently.
Aside from theme, I'm not sure these short pieces come together to make a singular story. Each pretty much stands on its own. And I think that's how they're best kept. Muir's story is the kind of story I'd appreciate in a literary magazine, a distraction from the monotony of Chekhov- and Carver-emulators. In the context of a complete “novel,” however, these stories become tedious. As I neared the end of this work, I wanted to hurl it across the room, convinced of a two-star ranking at best. But looking at these pieces individually, I can appreciate them.
I think this book is best viewed as a collection of pieces to be read when one is in a meditative mood: a journal of exploration by an author who truly sees what others cannot. Let's not lose sight of an author's true talent here.