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The Zoo at the Edge of the World: 01/29/16
The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale is set in British Guiana at the time when the western world was taking an interest in creating zoos. For the wealthiest the safari or similar was the way to go.
Marlin Rackham lives with his father and brother at the mouth of river on the edge of the wild, untamed forest. They run a hotel with a combined zoo and circus where locally caught animals are made to perform for the guests' entertainment. Marlin, though smarter than his older brother, has a stuttering problem. Out in the middle of nowhere with a show business family, Marlin's treated like an idiot.
The Rackhams are under increasing pressure to turn a profit as overseas investors in the form of British aristocrats are trying to develop the river and the zoo is on prime land. Marlin being apart from the wheeling and dealing and left pretty much to his own devices, has the opportunity to befriend the nobleman's daughter. Together they form an unusual alliance that could just help to save the family business.
Things change though when a jaguar is captured and an employee goes missing. And this book being set in South America embraces the art of magical realism. Soon Marlin's mind is opened up to the world of the animals around him. Like Blythe Baxter, he suddenly finds himself able to understand animals.
If you can imagine a tween mash up of Heart of Darkness and The Littlest Pet Shop, that's what The Zoo at the Edge of the World is.