In ‘The Council of Animals,’ the Fate of Humanity Comes Down to a Vote

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By Lydia Millet

By Nick McDonell

In my favorite childhood books, the animals always spoke. But in the books I’ve read as an adult, the talking beasts have been replaced by human characters — equally made up, though often less charismatic. Still, I sorely miss those wise, anthropic creatures, so I was delighted to open Nick McDonell’s novel “The Council of Animals” and discover some friendly critters engaged in witty banter. Here, I thought, might be a fantastic hybrid of the childlike and the mature — as its publisher once described, a “Roald Dahl meets ‘Animal Farm’” classic to be savored by all ages.

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