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Dom Holdsworth
The Zoo of Intelligent Animals
London, 1977. Year of the Silver Jubilee, Star Wars – and a spate of unexplained disappearances from across the academic world. Elizabeth Belfort, a young agent with a high-flying career and a low-flying marriage, is urgently dispatched to bring in an elusive government informant. But she soon finds herself drawn into the mysterious world of this informant and his family as they embark on a rescue mission. New horizons and new loves start to overturn her well-ordered life. Before long, she is travelling across galaxies to confront an alien race, who’ve taken a special interest in planet Earth and its primary intelligent species. They’ve even made a special home for some of them. In a zoo.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10


Plot/Idea: The Zoo of Intelligent Animals is an unusual, entertaining first-contact story that takes up an alien abduction plot with the tone of an English mystery novel. The book is smartly slow when introducing characters at the outset, but then ramps up once the cast starts encountering dangers on other planets.

Prose: Holdsworth's writing is humorous and engaging, creating a reading experience that's smooth and always enjoyable. The witty dialogue, in particular, is a standout feature of the prose.

Originality: The Zoo of Intelligent Animals imaginatively integrates a high-stakes adventure story with quirky satirical content, making an intelligent, fresh commentary about the stakes of entertainment along the way.

Character Development/Execution: Holdsworth's compelling, animated characters are impressively all given page time to develop and change throughout the course of the narrative. Highlights include learning about Elizabeth's personal life and marital struggles, and the reveal of Artemas's inspiring, difficult backstory.

Blurb: A satirical science fiction romp with a big heart and fantastic characters, D.A. Holdsworth's The Zoo of Intelligent Animals tells the story of an otherworldly recovery operation with a touch of romance.

Date Submitted: May 29, 2022

Amazon Australia - Top 500 Reviewer

A great story

Good characters, a riveting plot and continuous action.
The evolution of the main character, Elizabeth, is just as important as the story. I enjoyed it immensely.

Amazon UK

Brilliantly entertaining!

What a great book! Loved 'How to Buy a Planet' and this prequel is brilliant too, if not better! The whole idea of the Zoo is superb and I just wanted more and more of this world! Written with great pace when required but also at lesser pace depending on where our characters are. Great humour, great characters, great dialogue. Simply a very pleasurable reading experience! Well done Mr Holdsworth!

Amazon US

Part sci-fi and part a study in psychology

A wonderfully crafted plot and very interesting characters! Vivid descriptions of people and places. Will be reading the next book immediately! Highly recommended for fans of sci-fi, adventure, humor and people watching.

Amazon US

I really enjoyed How to Buy a Planet, so having the opportunity to read how Mrs B and the Professor meet was not to be missed. The plot line in this book is very original. This book has it all for any lovers of Hitchhiker's Guide - some dark plot lines and really funny moments. The Zoo is particularly entertaining!