Book Reviews

Review: Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge and translated by Jeremy Tiang

Strange Beasts of China is a book I expected to love more than I did. Part of this has to be the narration and the format. Find out what gave me problems and what I would change. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


In the fictional Chinese town of Yong’an, human beings live alongside spirits and monsters, some of which are almost indistinguishable from people. Told in the form of a bestiary, each chapter of Strange Beasts introduces us to a new creature – from the Sacrificial Beasts, who can’t seem to stop dying, to the Besotted Beasts, an artificial breed engineered by scientists to be as loveable as possible. The narrator, an amateur cryptozoologist, is on a mission to track down each breed in turn, but in the process discovers that she might not be as human as she thought.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

While I wanted to love Strange Beasts of China, something was missing for me. Firstly, I listened to this via audio, and while I really enjoyed the narrator, I would not recommend. To me, it felt more like large vignettes that were connected with the story, but I wish there were just like distinctions like, “Part One”, etc. It felt like between chapters of the story there were pieces of the book dedicated to explaining the beasts. I enjoyed these pieces of the story because it felt very textbook-esque. But I wished there had been more space between the story and these sections.

But aside from the format, I had a difficult time with the balance of action and character introspection. In terms of plot, I enjoyed the ways that Ge keeps surprising the readers, playing with our expectations. Yet I was missing some internal character introspection for our MC. You can see how she might be impacted by the events, but I was missing some internal thoughts to really connect with her. I wanted to love Strange Beasts of China more, especially considering the cryptozoology angle. And while I enjoyed those aspects, the rest of the story lost me a bit.

Overall, if you were also interested in those aspects, I’d recommend you read this one – just maybe via book form. Especially because I enjoyed the world building and all the different beasts. Find Strange Beasts of China on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound,, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite mythical/magical creature scientist?

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.