Zachary Thomas Dodson’s first novel is a bibliophile’s dream: gilded pages, cut edges, thick paper, hand-drawn maps, natural history illustrations, and beguiling other-worldly diagrams introduce a narrative equally rich and ingenious. Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel (Doubleday, $27.95), starts in 1843 with Zadock Thomas leaving Chicago on a mission to deliver a letter to a general in Texas. But he is sidetracked—literally—by a sudden flock of bats. Then it’s three hundred years later. Paranoia rules the Earth and another Thomas, Zeke, has inherited a letter and many mysteries . . . By turns adventure, science fiction, and epic—or maybe all at once—this novel is riveting to read, gorgeous to hold.
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