When We Were Animals (Hardcover)

By Joshua Gaylord

Mulholland Books, 9780316297936, 336pp.

Publication Date: April 21, 2015

List Price: 26.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.



A small, quiet Midwestern town, which is unremarkable save for one fact: when the teenagers reach a certain age, they run wild.

When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn't have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen's confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community's darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident "breaches" during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path.

Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community's traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town's past, the more we realize that Lumen's memories are harboring secrets of their own.

A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland.

About the Author

Joshua Gaylord grew up in Anaheim, California, and currently resides in New York City. He's the author of one previous novel, and under the pen name Alden Bell, two horror novels, including The Reapers are the Angels. He received his Ph.D. in 20th century American and British literature from NYU, and has taught both at NYU and the New School.

Praise For When We Were Animals

"An excellent, disturbing premise [with] superb prose . . . Under [Lumen's] spell, even the most staid reader would feel the impulse to run wild."—Shelf Awareness

"A compelling read that will likely resonate-after all, what's scarier than growing up?"—The Maine Edge

"A brilliant setup . . . A patient, thoughtful portrait of a girl progressing into womanhood, disguised as a work of speculative fiction"—Strange Horizons

"A fascinating look at a time during which we think we know everything, only to realize that we don't even know ourselves . . . When We Were Animals takes us on a journey that is at once completely foreign and utterly relatable."—Brooke Wylie, Examiner.com

"In ­Lumen, Gaylord creates an unforgettable and, well, luminous narrative voice, and his language captures the lush, dangerous possibilities of teenage nights to perfection. . . . this book deserves a breakout success like that of Jeffrey ­Eugenides's first novel, The Virgin Suicides."—Library Journal (starred)

"When We Were Animals conjures the dreamy satisfaction of revisiting the cult horror movies of your youth -- things are familiar but they resound in new and unexpected ways, revealing subtle depths and poignancy. This is a dark, inventive and absorbing story, fittingly theatrical. It disturbs and entertains in equal measure."—Benjamin Wood, author of the Costa-shortlisted The Bellwether Revivals

"[A] coming-of-age tale with a gory twist . . . There's no stopping this bizarrely fascinating journey of dark self-discovery."—Kirkus Reviews

"Admit it: you remember an animal time in your own life. And if you think you don't, Joshua Gaylord and his book will lash you with it. When We Were Animals has the power to creep you out and, yes, turn you on."—John Griesemer, author of Signal & Noise

"Imagine if Twilight were well-written and grown up. Coming of age in this small town is less about braces, and more about street fights and lots of sex. Yes, it really is good."—TheSkimm