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Butcher Bird: A Novel of The Dominion

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,989 Ratings  ·  195 Reviews
Spyder Lee is a happy man who lives in San Francisco and owns a tattoo shop. One night an angry demon tries to bite his head off before he's saved by a stranger. The demon infected Spyder with something awful - the truth. He can suddenly see the world as it really is: full of angels and demons and monsters and monster-hunters. A world full of black magic and mysteries. The ...more
Paperback, 257 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Night Shade Books (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Jeremiah Genest
Sep 27, 2007 Jeremiah Genest rated it it was ok
There are basically two versions of hell and more importantly Lucifer existent in modern fantasy, and pretty much the western imagination, Dante’s and Milton’s. Oh sure there are a few other versions out there, like Blake’s, but frankly they don’t have the staying power of those two models.

Butcher Bird is Milton all the way. Milton as imagined in the hazy postmodern pagan relativistic world we exist in. Its Gaiman’s Lucifer and the Lucifer we’ve seen in so many other fantasy novels. Frankly I wa
Mar 11, 2008 James added it
Man, if this is the state of contemporary literature, there is little hope for the written word. Like wading through a prose version of the mediocre dregs of Deviant Art; all edge for the sake of edge. This is the kind of tripe middle aged "social outliers" write in coffee shops in the hopes that some pale beauty will take notice. This is writing without skill and blind to art.
Nov 01, 2009 Loren rated it really liked it
The book started slowly and the characters' hipster snark grated on me enough that I might have put the book down except that it had come so highly recommended. The pace picked up the deeper in I went, to the point that it was hard to put the book down to go to the publisher's party Friday night.

I'm told that Sandman Slim (Kadrey's newest) is even better.

In Butcher Bird, it was refreshing to read about a truly honest, truly compassionate male character who wears his heart on his sleeve. The othe
Althea Ann
Jul 01, 2013 Althea Ann rated it liked it
I felt like I am part of the target audience for this book. On the other hand, I felt like the book did a bit too much poking about that: “Hey! This is a book just for people like you! Who like tattoos! And bars! And are into mythology and fantasy! You’re badass and cool! Check it out!” Yeah, ok. Unfortunately, I sort of felt like the ‘cool’ stuff was a veneer laid over a fairly typical and not-that-riveting quest fantasy. Who the characters were didn’t really affect or inform what happened to t ...more
Nov 19, 2007 Thomas rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I've had my fill of urban fantasy. It's as played out as a Scarface t-shirt.
Really, I should only be mad at myself. I read about this book on the movie news website CHUD, and they never reviews books. It was five stars all the way, and promised an exciting new voice. So I picked it up in the bookstore, and there was a blurb from William Gibson, telling me: if you like Juxtapoz, you'll love Butcher Bird!
The cover art gave me misgivings. It's very well painted, but it had me thinking 'This is that
Feb 18, 2009 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Interesting. It was good. And I liked the trip to Hell - it reminded me of Milton. Language doesn't bother me - but if you have misgivings about reading things that might make a sailor blush, you might want to reconsider this one. Fu*# is in ever third sentence (ok, that's an exaggeration, but there were times when it felt like it). I had 2 small problems with this book - first, the smoking is so in your face - I mean, I know people smoke and so do book characters. But every time I put the book ...more
May 23, 2012 Kiki rated it liked it
I would give the first half of this book two stars and the second half four, if I could. The beginning is like a summary of a better book, lacking in sufficient world building. I'm guessing that this is because Kadrey came from short stories, and you generally get plot, character or theme in short stories, not all three. His later books are much better in this respect, so he either got a better editor, or just plain got better.

OK. I'm going to be all kinds of judgey about people now, so skip thi
Jul 04, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, read-2011

4 Stars for fun

Having read the first two Sandman Slim novels I decided to go back and read some older stuff by Kadrey. I was not disappointed. Like the Sandman Slim novels this book centers on demons, angels, monsters, and even Lucifer himself.

Comparing this book to the later Sandman Slim novels shows many of the flaws of this being an early work.Overall, this book plays along main stream avenues, the plot, the conflicts, and the outcome can all be seen from a mile a way. Even the ending has bee
Te maldigo, ¡oh Richard Kadrey!, por no hacer una continuación.

Pero bueno, la reseña, se trata de Spyder, un tatuador quien un día descubre que hay una esfera de realidad entrelazada con nuestro universo donde existen demonios y ángeles y justo cuando descubre eso un demonio intenta comerselo, pero justo cuando va a pasaar eso una mujer ciega que pelea con una espada lo salva, pero después resulta que la mujer ciega (Shrike, aka The Butcher Bird), es una asesina y le pide a Spyder que lo acompañ
May 30, 2012 Bryce rated it really liked it
I want to see pulp authors Richard Kadrey and Charlie Huston battle each other to see who is really the reigning king of the super-gritty urban supernatural thriller. I imagine the pre-fight insults would be epic, but I also wouldn't rule out the possibility that things would devolve into a slap-fight pretty quickly.

Both authors play on my inner violence-monger and their noir-esque dialog leaves me giddy.

Butcher Bird follows the adventures of Spyder Lee as he discovers a secret world in the sh
Feb 20, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
Bitten by an insect-headed demon, Spyder Lee has been given the ability to see worlds beyond - or rather, parallel to - his own. The three Spheres containing life have been separated for their own good, but still intermingle, unaware of each others' presence. Spyder now finds himself one of the few people in his Sphere able to see the inhabitants of all three: angels, demons, monsters, myths, and madmen. He can also see the Black Clerks, dark-coated men who claim to keep the balance in the spher ...more
Sep 06, 2013 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I had no idea what this book was about when I opened it and I've not read a lot of urban fantasy stuff. I read it simply for the cover. The cover art was beautiful.

My favorite part of stories is the characters. I want to know who they are and I want to hear their voices. I fell in love with Lulu and Spyder within the first two pages. I love the dialogue and mechanics between them. I knew who they were and how close they were from the very first chapter. I loved watching Spyder develop through th
Jun 23, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Spyder is a tattoo artist with his own shop in San Fransisco, living a pretty good life until a demon tries to kill him while he's out having a piss behind his favorite watering hole. He's rescued by a cute blind woman who cuts the demon's head off, but the morning after he's able to see things. All the other creatures living in our world, the demons, angels and monsters that everyone else manages to forget just after seeing he sees and remembers.

He goes to find the blind woman who helped him, h
Mathew Carruthers
Unsettling and awesome

This is just good storytelling. If you were to take a basic quest/revenge story, throw in some unexpected romance, merge it with the Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost, then filter it all through the more visceral aspects of Clive Barker's imagination, you would get a very close approximation to this novel. Well done - but you can really expect nothing less from the writer who created the githyanki (for you D&D buffs out there).
Fantasy Literature
Oct 03, 2013 Fantasy Literature rated it really liked it
Kadrey’s Butcher Bird was published in 2007, two years before his SANDMAN SLIM series. Butcher Bird, subtitled A Novel of the Dominion, shares some themes with its later cousin, but the shape and the tone of this book are completely different.
Spyder Lee is a tattoo artist in San Francisco. He shares his studio with his best friend Lulu Garou, who does piercings. One night, when Spyder steps out into the alley behind his favorite bar, he is attacked. The attack is terrifying, and for one moment S
Jun 19, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, horror
I love, love, love this book.

It's rough, in some ways, but really, a missing quotation mark here or there didn't phase me with a story this wonderful.

I already adore Kadrey's Sandman Slim series, so I thought I'd dip into the back catalogue as well. This is a precursor, both temporally and thematically, to that series, and it's independently published, which can be significantly hit or miss.

This is a hit.

I'm not sure I can articulate why, exactly, but this hits all my cylinders. The magical unde
Dec 31, 2012 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
My final read of the year, and it was an enjoyable fantasy romp. I have much liked Kadrey's Sandman series, and what I found most interesting about this book, which seems to have been wriitena few years earlier than the series, is I think you can see the genesis of the Sandman character, as well as others (such as Lucifer), and budding development of life in Hell. There are elements of his later female shade/assassin characters in Shrike, a beautiful blind killer-for-hire, as well as of Spyder i ...more
if i could give half stars i'd give this one three and a half. it was definitely a solid book, better than a lot of fantasy that's out there right now. there were little things that bugged me; some typos and grammar stuff that i can't help but notice, some of the dialogue fell a little flat, and the characters were engaging but never engrossing. that being said, overall the story was a good one, the plot was interesting and the descriptions of the world were vivid and clear. this guy definitely ...more
Mar 21, 2009 Stacy rated it liked it
I really wanted to love and adore this book as much as my friends have... but I just couldn't. I liked it - it was a great story.. but it was totally predictable. Brooding sexy tattooed hero falls for the tough strong woman who helps him navigate through worlds he's never seen. I didn't want him to fall for her, that's so predictable and boring. He should of fallen for some crazy otherworldly mermaid or something. Being a fan of Neil Gaiman and his worlds first made this one seem like a copy. Do ...more
Jan 09, 2012 Natalie rated it it was ok
I absolutely adored Sandman Slim, also by Richard Kadrey, and Butcher Bird had an interesting premise, so I figured I couldn't go wrong. I was wrong. This book felt so heavy handed and klunky, the characters... what's like the evil moustached version of a caricature? Like that. I also felt like Kadrey was trying really, really hard to prove how cool he is and how cool his hero is. Whereas Stark from Sandman Slim just was a bad ass, this hero (anti-hero, really), Spyder, jumped up and down and sh ...more
Stuart Reid
Jan 22, 2015 Stuart Reid rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, urban-fantasy
You can see the beginning of Sandman Slim in this novel as it follows the same themes. I love Kadreys writing style and the imaginative settings and characters, but sometimes the plot seems secondary.

This is subtitled "A Novel of the Dominion" but I'm not sure if there's any more stories of Spyder, Shrike and Lulu. An urban fantasy universe is set up well but perhaps Sandman took over.

To summarise the plot: Spyder, a tatooist, and Lulu, his BFF and the one who handles piercing in their partnersh
While overall an enjoyable, easy read, being beaten over the head non-stop with JUST HOW COOL the characters are is an annoyance. Reminiscent of Poppy Z Brite, Caitlin R Keirnan, and their ilk in that regard.

That being said, if you can get past that aspect, it's a pleasurable enough book to waste a bit of time on, and I have a hunch the author has some interesting stories to tell in the future. He just needs to work out a few stylistic kinks.
May 22, 2011 branewurms rated it liked it
Recommended to branewurms by: Katie
Kind of uneven - Kadrey's writing seems to have improved a lot between this and Sandman Slim, or maybe he just got a better editor. A really fun read, nevertheless. I was surprised by how generally upbeat it was, having read the two first Sandman Slim books in all their grimdark glory. This was more like a strangely seedy Gaiman novel. Was interesting how a lot of the ideas set out in this book were like proto-ideas for Sandman Slim.
Michelle Morrell
Sep 28, 2010 Michelle Morrell rated it really liked it
Shelves: x-read-2010, faerie
I enjoyed the hell out of this book (spoiler pun!). In a dark alley, tattoo artist Spyder is attacked by a demon who infects him with sight, the ability to see the world how it really is, complete with angels, demons and many other lifeforms that fall between. But that's only the beginning of the story with an epic journey, battles and strange friends in strange places. I can only hope for the hinted-upon sequel.
Christopher Mudiappahpillai
Jun 23, 2013 Christopher Mudiappahpillai rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book to no end.

A world similar to Kadrey's Sandman Slim, but from the viewpoint of a hedonistic tattoo artist with a heart of gold. Throw in a sword-wielding, blind assassin, a few nefarious 'monsters', and the Prince of Darkness, and you've got all the ingredients for a rollicking good time.

Pulpy, yes, but thoroughly entertaining.
Elaine Cramer
William Gibson writes in the blurb on the front of this book, "If this novel had been rendered in oil or acrylic, it would be kicking world-class lowbrow ass in multi-page spread in Juxtapoz or on the walls of La Luz de Jesus. Go for it. The man is mad, in every best way."

Well, I'm not cool enough to know what Juxtapoz or La Luz de Jesus is, so there's that. But I agree, the book was a lot like a painting. It was interesting to read about all the things in Richard Kadrey's vivid imagination, but
Mar 28, 2014 Amy rated it it was ok
This formula was so similar to Sandman Slim that I found myself comparing the books and characters. The characters were a bit lack luster and most were non-essential. the last ten chapters managed to quickly pull a disorganized story together, but I can't say that it was good.
Mar 16, 2013 Rosemary rated it it was amazing
Taking a tour through Hell with Richard Kadrey is always a joyride through the steaming guts of world mythology. But beneath the tough guy troubles beats a heart of pure marshmallow (both hero and author). A truly sweet fable of love, demons, and nicotine addiction.
Sourabh Mookherjee
Aug 02, 2007 Sourabh Mookherjee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
One of the best sci fi fantasy book I have read. And what's special about it is that it is freely downloadable from the web. No. Not piracy. A free legal download.

It's a rollercoaster of insights that I have not been able to forget even after so long.
May 13, 2016 Rebecca rated it liked it
I have such mixed feelings about this book.

It has immense potential. The kernels of world-building in it are amazing, and the characters have so much potential, and the concept in and of itself is promising. And every once in a while there's a turn of phrase that grabs my imagination and keeps me reading and engaged.

At the same time, it's derivative as heck, entirely predictable, and it falls into that category of early efforts that just try way the hell too hard to be EDGY! and SHOCKING! and DI
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Richard Kadrey is a writer and freelance photographer living in San Francisco, best known for his Sandman Slim novels. His newest novels are The Everything Box, released April 19, 2016 and The Perdition Score (Sandman Slim, #8), released on June 28, 2016.
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“All losers are romantics. It's what keeps us from blowing our brains out.” 71 likes
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