Thursday, 12 March 2015

Emma Reviews: When the Animals Vanished by Mary Wirz

Review by Emma Powell

Please see below for information about the giveaway!

If you were told that your life depended upon a winged insect weighing 1/300th of an ounce, would you believe it? Would you care?

This is one of those books where you really should judge the book by its cover. It is absolutely gorgeous and the story that unfolded within was just as alluring. If you are spiritually minded, environmentally concerned and animal aware, this is just the book for you. And if you’re not, you might learn something--the message within the book is serious indeed and is also seen through a scientific mind.

The book questions what would happen if the bees could no longer pollinate--a real problem in the real world. Lena, the grandmother, has the trust and knowing of a sixth sense, inspired by her adopted sister Mae who lives with messages through spirit, animals and guardian angels. Finley is Lena’s granddaughter and despite spending every childhood summer with her grandmother, sees the problem through a scientist’s mind. They have the same passion but via differing media to tackle problems of the modern world and along with Nick, Finley’s colleague and their wealthy sponsor, the dour Henry, the story of a group of people fighting to save the earth from extinction takes you on highs and lows the reader will not expect.

Dogs play a big part in this book--from the rather violent opening scene and a big, bouncy protective German shepherd, to two poodles that seem rather mismatched in looks to the brooding Henry but offer nothing except unconditional love, as well as the two rescue dogs that belong to Finley and Nick. The characterisation, physicality and love of these dogs are written with such aplomb, the reader can feel them. The love of dogs by the author is tangible and works really well in this tale; I had teary eyes on more than one occasion!

The reader is taken on a journey through sadness, relief, hope and despair. Despite the words ‘spiritual’, ‘angels’ and ‘sixth sense’ floating around, the story has a scientific slant thanks to the characters of Finley and Nick and the book is firmly grounded only a few years into the future: a time within the grasp of most of us and this is the scary thing; you only have to do a bit of internet browsing to understand the real problems of honey bees dying off, due to insecticides, intense farming etc., and the knock-on effects to other wildlife and nature. This tale is not as far-fetched as it may seem. The author takes the story to the uncomfortable conclusion of what if?

What if the human race continues to live outside of nature and the environment? What if we fail to understand that our very existence depends on the environment? This book gives us a possible scenario--the reader may need to keep an open mind but I think that is healthy.

What you get is a damn good story. The opening scene is upsetting but sows the seeds for Lena as a child and as she grows to a woman. The flow of the story moves seamlessly to centre around Finley and the more desperate fight to save bees. Will she, won’t she? You’ll have to read the book to find out but it is no ordinary tale so expect the unexpected.

A fabulous, disparate group of characters, a roller-coaster journey through time and an ending that is unexpected, I cannot recommend this book enough. It will most definitely make you think differently if nothing else. Not since I was child has a book touched my soul as much as this one. It gives free rein to the imagination and I still gaze at the cover, determined to do my bit for Mother Nature and the animals. It is a book I will read more than once, too.

About the Author

Various crayon-decorated shoe boxes lined with soft, colorful fabrics are buried in the back yard of Mary’s childhood home in Medford, Wisconsin. The shoe boxes are the final resting place for the family’s hamsters, guinea pigs, goldfish, parakeets, and countless wounded wild birds. Mary’s mother passed on her love for animals to her four children, and would merely sigh each time her daughter strolled through the back door with yet another homeless dog in tow.

Author Mary Wirz has so graciously offered a paperback copy of When the Animals Vanished for one lucky winner! If you would like to grab your chance, simply comment below OR at this review's Facebook thread, located here.

Please visit the author’s website and Facebook page for more background info and updates.


  1. Brilliant Review Emma. The issues in this book really appeal to me, certainly one for my TBR.

  2. Never mind your issues Rob, i think i will need tissues. What a lovely review Emma. I am definitely hoping to win.

  3. As a nature and animal lover (especially dogs) this books sounds right up my street, I definitely must read it

    Great review Emma, which makes me want to read it even more

  4. A truly lovely and moving review.

  5. Mary Wirz/Author of When The Animals Vanished21 March 2015 at 17:47

    Emma, your review has touched my soul as the story touched yours. I wondered why this story came to me until a moment, while deep in research, I realized that 'they who would fix this problem' did not exist. 'They' are 'We' and when our hearts ignite we create future! Many tears splotched the manuscript pages as I was forced to envision consequences of choices, but I hold a vision of beauty that We will turn this around! Voices united are powerful! Gratitude and blessings to you for your insightful thoughts.