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Butcher Bird: A Novel of the Dominion Paperback – July 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey has published nine novels, including Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha from Hell, Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues, The Getaway God, Killing Pretty, Butcher Bird, and Metrophage, and more than fifty stories. He has been immortalized as an action figure, his short story Goodbye Houston Street, Goodbye, was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award, and Butcher Bird was nominated for the Prix Elbakin in France. A freelance writer and photographer, he lives in San Francisco, California.
Top Customer Reviews
The differences between the authors are more obvious than that, though: almost all of Kadrey's fantasy writing is firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian theology of angels and devils; Gaiman tends to write using Celtic and Norse mythology. Where Gaiman writes airy or bloody fantasy; Kadrey's writing reminds one more of grease and dirt.
Kadrey is what would happen if a J.D. Salingeresque novel tripped through tattoing and motorcycle mechanic school and accidentally ingested something slightly hallucinogenic. Indeed, this book was apparently partially self-published, which makes it all the more amazing that it's so engaging. It's well worth the ride.
Of course, I finished the book and it ended exceptionally well, but I shouldn't have been worried. The world is so vividly realized that, as I pass the book on to other people, I get to visit it again every time we talk about the story.
Kadrey's prose is visceral, his characters utterly realistic. The magical elements of his world compel you to believe in them.
The editing on the book, however, could have been tighter. My copy was rife with typos and transposed words. It's a testament to how good the writing was that I was able to overlook the error rate and still enjoy - indeed, thoroughly love - the story!
That said, it has some problems. Most prominent among them is the dialogue. It feels synthetic a lot of the time: Like the counterculture that the author is trying to embody - that of tattoo parlors, punk rock and erotica - is nothing but a caricature of the reality. References to sex and emotion are particularly hollow, and oftentimes forced in for no particular reason.
There is also a pretty serious editorial problem. There is a pretty high volume of typos and grammatical errors in the published text. Although one or two are forgivable, the amount in this book is sort of ridiculous.
All in all, a worthwhile read. I'm interested in the authors future, but for now he comes off as the poor man's Neil Gaiman.
The plot: our protagonist learns about multiple worlds and layers of invisible weirdness, sells his body to the supposedly-good-guys who keep the universe in balance (but who are hated and feared for destroying people at random) to save his best friend from being killed by them, joins up with an assassin because she's cute and he's gormless, agrees to go to Hell to steal a magic book (dragging along his best friend), meets allies along the way, and ultimately has to learn to shut up and trust himself enough to destroy the universe to save it.
Like I said, old hat, but not truly tiresome. And some of the jokes are great. The character development is subtly handled and pretty nice, especially since it's never really commented-on after a change, only before.
The deus(?) ex machinae are fine. This kind of book needs some. The side characters are fun. The locations are entertaining and no one stays around long enough for them to get tiresome.
The best part is the lack of pretension in the main character. He's pretension enough for the setup, but he knows it and doesn't try to hide (most) of his flaws. He's willing to admit mistakes and he doesn't mind acting like a not-hero. Actually, learning to act like a hero is part of his arc.
Throughout the book, I kept thinking that it had snuck by as readable and enjoyable, but there was no way the next chapter would hold my interest without annoying me. But no chapter actually did annoy me enough to matter and they stayed interesting.
Worth a read if you like the genre.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Kadrey takes on the whole cosmic mythos of heaven and hell like he knows it like the back of his hand. Read morePublished 18 days ago by patrick galt
Fun thrill ride to hell and back! Edgy and unique characters with a fantistical story of life, love and magic.Published 22 days ago by Leah Vierthaler
I liked a lot the "Sandman Slim" series, so I gave this one a shot (not bought on Amazon).
-1 star because I won't read it again and -1 star... Read more
Great read. Wonderful descriptions of a world that is full of imaginative characters and settings.Published 3 months ago by MG
I've read many of the Sandman Slim series, and liked them. This was in the same vein, but I thought a bit more like a pure waking dream than those. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gregory F. Pfister
Convoluted and overly complex making it tough to even finish. Interesting idea but poorly executed. See what you think of it.Published 4 months ago by Harnser