Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Butcher Bird by Richard Kadrey

Butcher Bird by Richard Kadrey
(c)2007 Night Shade Books
ISBN: 978-1-59780-086-0
Second Printing
Trade Paperback 257 pages

Butcher Bird is an interesting book. The story is about a tattoo artist who, after being bitten by a demon, suddenly sees the world in a different light. The city of San Francisco is no longer the city he knows. Demons are attached to the back of humans, buildings aren’t where they should be, and some people are skinless. Oh, and there’s the Black Clerks. Their role is to keep the balance. The book revolves around heaven, hell, and different spheres of existence.

The story is told in sixty-one short chapters. Some chapters seem like they are only there to fill pages. A lot of the chapter I saw little reason for them being there. Other chapters are scattered throughout the book written in italic and they give a kind of history and explanation of the spheres and the black clerks. The descriptiveness is left pretty much blank, leaving a lot to the reader’s imagination. The lead character Spyder accepts the changes a little too easily and calmly. The chapters themselves are over edited – the length did not concern me – what did concern me was the lack of substance per chapter. Things just seem to happen. And it’s not until you’re past the halfway mark that you start to like the main character, Spyder. I don’t quite understand why he and Shrike ‘got it on’ at the beginning of the book, especially when he doesn’t know her and she has treated him rather unkindly.  

But, once you get used to the style and the characters the story does grow on you. Once you get past the first hundred pages the worlds Richard Kadrey builds are expertly constructed. And the end is a kicker. I especially like Lucifer, in this book he is an alright kind of guy (demon). He tortures souls in his free time buy, hell, I’d have a beer with him.  

The book did have some engaging battle scenes involving magic.
Favourite quote: Lust is all that’s amusing about talking meat.  

This is a specialist book, by that I mean it is not general novel that follows general guidelines. I doubt many readers will get into the story and lose themselves in Kadrey’s worlds and characters. 


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