Butcher Bird by Richard Kadrey
I looked at this book four or five times before I actually picked it up. I was ambivalent about it, but I kept running across people talking about it, so I gave it a shot.
It’s a little dark, a little twisted, a little Nightside, a little Neverwhere.
After all’s said and done, I liked it and I’d read Kadrey again.
I won’t say it was an easy read. It’s not a candy-book like the Nightside series. There’s layers and layers and double crosses. I took short breaks every few chapters, but I couldn’t stop reading it. I finished it the same day I started it. Let me tell you that for a biblioslut like me, that’s something.
Our main character is Spyder. He’s a tattoo artist who has an encounter with a demon and ends up getting his third eye opened with a hardy knock and a pretty blind assassin named Shrike. Along with his partner Lulu and a few others, he gets dragged along onto a quest. It’s the sort of plot that I don’t want to talk too much about because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. I’ll keep it general.
I liked the blending of mythologies. It really works for the frame of the story and lets it be lifted out of the real world into a landscape that doesn’t really exist. I love imaginary worlds that are all the more imaginary by being impacted by the beliefs of people. It speaks to the heart of things.
And I grew to really appreciate Spyder and Lulu and even Count Non. I just don’t think I’m that fond of Shrike. I don’t know what it is that turns me off, but it was enough that I wasn’t sure that I was going to continue past the first few chapters. I’m glad I did. The story got rolling just past there and it was worth it.
The biggest issue for me, was the voice at the beginning of the book, seemed out of pace with the world it was talking about. Kadrey eventually found the right balance between grounded and dreamlike.
It’s worth the read.