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Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  51 reviews
"S. Craig Zahler is certain to become one of the great imaginers of our time." ― Clive Barker

Hug Chickenpenny is an anomalous child. Born from tragedy and unknown paternity, this asymmetrical and white-haired baby inspires both ire and pity at the orphanage, until the day that an elderly eccentric adopts him as a pet. The upbeat boy's spirit is challenged in his new home a
Paperback, 264 pages
Published January 23rd 2018 by Cinestate
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  162 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kind of an abrupt ending, but still enjoyable. Sad and fun. Very bizarre. Think BIG FISH and Lemony Snicket and THE ELEPHANT MAN.
Jess Hagemann
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
HUG CHICKENPENNY is the most surprising book I’ve read in a long time. I was won over first by the intriguing title, and next by the titular character, who you can’t help but fall in love with despite—or because of—his ‘anomalies.’ His physical appearance is grotesque, but more anomalous, in the end, is the metaphorical size of his heart—and the ways in which he impacts everyone who has the honor of meeting him. Part coming-of-age story, part would-be-astronaut adventure, HUG is like a more biza ...more
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child is not something I'd normally read and had me reaching for the dictionary more than once, it's one of those books that I know will stay with me for a long, long time. Zahler's work will do that. Like his damning westerns Wraiths of the Broken Land and A Congregation of Jackals (ironically enough, the western is another genre I've never read before those), Hug Chickenpenny is much more than literature. It's an experience.

You can read my
Where to begin with this book? Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child is unlike anything that I've read before. It's a coming of age story, but with a fantasy bent that makes it completely unique. I can promise that whatever you think you're going to find in these pages you're, at most, only about half right. If you've seen Bone Tomahawk, you might have a general idea about the brilliant oddness that Zahler can create. Just go into this book with an open mind, and prepare yourself ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking, this is a great story (a beautiful story, even) that is, unfortunately, told by the wrong person. Zahler tries too hard to be or sound Dickensian; it doesn't work. He tries too hard to sound sophisticated; it doesn't work. He can't handle the complexity and nuance it would take to tell this story the way it deserves to be told.

It was okay. I enjoyed it. I wouldn't read it again, nor would I recommend it someone who is looking for a good r
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
You remember that episode of friends where Monica and Chandler have Joey write them a letter of recommendation and Joey over-uses the thesaurus to try and sound smart? That’s basically how this book reads...but it’s good.

Very rarely am I ever hooked on a book from the first chapter, but this one got me and kept me entertained the entire way through.

The story of orphan Hug Chickenpenny is both funny and tragic, which is an incredible balance to keep. It’s almost Tim Burton-esque, but the author d
Jared Howes
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At present, I will tell you that you will love the anomalous boy and his story. You will achieve the full range of the emotional experience, never knowing who to love or hate or laugh or scowl at. Unique and intriguing.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Tim Burton and Mervyn Peake got together to update one of Dickens' orphan novels ... it would probably look something like this.
Kyle Johnson
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Unlike any of his previous works, S. Craig Zahler tells the heartbreaking story of Hug Chickenpenny in the vein of classic Tim Burton. This is a pretty straightforward tale that comes to life through colorful dialogue. This novel further cements the fact that S. Craig Zahler is a master storyteller by venturing and excelling in different genres than he has established himself in.

I recommend this book if you enjoyed the following: Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar
Kevin Schnurr
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Welp, I read this in two days and it just entered my all-time favorite works of fiction. Thanks for the amazing recommendation, Meag!
Jiří Pavlovský
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Zahler u nás zabodoval skvělou kriminálkou Špinavý kšefty na North Ganson Street (a samozřejmě, podobně brutálním filmovým westernem Bone Tomahawk), takže když mi nakladatelství Mystery Press nabídlo, jestli si nechci přečíst jeho román Hug Chickepenny, jestli by se nehodil pro vydání, samozřejmě jsem po tom hned hrábnul.
Ale nakonec to bylo trochu komplikovanější. Je to dobrá knížka? To ano. Je dobře napsaná? Rozhodně. Je tedy k vydání? No... nejsem si jist.
Hlavní potíž je v tématu. Není to an
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant coming-of-age/quest novel with a marvelous hero, written by the director of Bone Tomahawk, this is a quite different, but no less amazing story. Highly recommended.
Jacob Bruce
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am devastated.
Erica Robyn
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club-work
Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child by S. Craig Zahler is a wonderfully bizarre but heartbreaking tale filled to the brim with symbolism.

This is one that you should not read alone! Trust me. You're going to want to talk about it! I'm so glad that this was the book pick for my work book club. We had such an amazing conversation about it.

Phew, what a read this was! No matter how long I've tried to organize my thoughts... I just keep wanting to type out the same things; this is de
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was such an addictive read! Odd, unusual, heartbreaking, and heart-mending, with every turn of the page you just don't know where you'll end up on the emotional spectrum, but you just can't put it down. There were characters to love, loathe, believe in, trust, grow to understand, and then some. The circumstances in which we meet each tends to bend our initial opinion of them, but their true colors win out every time.

While I adored it on the whole, it wasn't without points for improvement.
Carrie Ardoin
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very quick read, because I couldn't put it down once I started. The circumstances of Hug's birth and parentage are mysterious to say the least, and his life is filled with people who don't understand him. Born to a mother who died upon birthing him, Hug (as he is so named in his orphanage home) is small, malformed, and just plain different. There are some in his life that want the best for him, though, and Hug's story is told through these stages of his life where people cared for him ...more
Sam Gor
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
He did it again.
He is 5 books for 5 now which makes me even more excited to see what he's gonna do in film.

Anyway, this is 264 pages and I would say it could've been longer, more like 300.

Now, I never grew up with Snicket but I feel Chickenpenny encompasses that vibe but written in a way that at my age I could enjoy. Reading Snicket now is troublesome and cumbersome for me.

Beyond that things could've been fleshed out even more with characters and that world, I really enjoyed this.

The origin of
Donovan Maxwell
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jimmy Ranieri
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, adventure
If you like the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, you may like this book. But keep in mind that this is in regards to the writing (or narrating) style, NOT the content. Hug Chickenpenny is written in such an interesting style that the comparison to the Grand Budapest Hotel is the first thing that popped into my head, even though the stories told by each are nothing at all alike.

I had only picked this up at the library on my way out with a CJ Box book that I like for easy reading. I usually pick u
Alivia Jones
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Zahler somehow manages to subvert the standard story structure every reader has come to expect while still crafting a satisfying story-no simple feat-and constantly mocks the sesquipedalian nature of his own prose (yes, I learned the word "sesquipedalian" on one of my frequent trips to the dictionary while reading "Hug Chickenpenny"). Hug is lovable in all his grotesqueness; his caretaker Georgie, who gave him the name "Hug" so that he would have enough love to last him the rest of his life, is ...more
Gavin McHugh
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
After reading S Craig Zahler's Wraiths of the Broken Land and Corpus Chrome Inc the story of Hug Chickenpenny is a departure from what I had been used to.
Following the plight of the anomalous Hug as he has to carry on through his young life with all manner of disadvantages and falls foul of the prejudices of those around him, it is clear from the start that this is no ordinary child and his path is never going to be the easiest one.
Taking a more focused direction than his previous, multi-charact
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't know where to start. This book is pure fun. Hug Chickenpenny will delight and resonate with readers long after the last page has been read! The story just kept getting better and better the further that I got into it. So many intriguing characters. Hug may have been the leading star of the story but not without some friendly help. There is George (Georgie) the caretaker and the one that gave Hug his name as well as Abigail and her family, which was actually Hug's family as well. Well the ...more
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Could be read as a parable and/or a commentary on how we deal with illness, physical disability, and abuse on both personal and social scales. It's a life affirming magical realism tale centered on a Christ-figure child persevering through a grotesque and abusive world.

The prose is all over the place. Unnecessary use of many obscure words, the noun phrases for each character are repeated excessively, and most of the imagery and action is delivered through some strange syntax. The story, characte
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much. I’ll be honest, I have not been reading nearly as much as I have been in the past, and despite me wanting to, I really haven’t. When I first read about this book, I was instantly intrigued by it, and I instantly wanted to read it, and I’m really glad I did. I prefer books that are constantly interesting and engaging, or at the very least, I prefer them while I am trying to get back into reading, and this book remained interesting the entire time I was reading it. Not t ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway-wins
I won this book on a GoodReads giveaway and quite honestly not a book I would normally read. I was so intrigued after the first chapter, I couldn’t wait to find a break in my day to read the next chapter. it was compelling, funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking ....fabulous tale of a boy so apparently and uncomfortably different from everyone but unwavering in his kindness for all. Truly a book that I will keep thinking about long after I’ve read it. It’s an easy read but so full of unique chara ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
4.5/5 stars
I received this book as a goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

Hug Chickenpenny is an anomalous child, and this is an anomalous book. That being said, I fell in love with Hug and his world. It's a wonderful combination of fantastical, outlandish, heart-wrenching, and thoughtful. Read this story with an open heart and an open mind.....and maybe a couple of tissues on the side. Highly recommend.
Alex Reneski
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining, tear jerking parable? Poor Hug is so "anomalous" as to be almost grotesque. From the age of about 7 he returns good thoughts for cruel actions. Book is well written entertainment, but bears as much likeness to real life as the number of times you have used "anomalous" and "panegyric" in the same sentence.
An entertaining feel good book well deserving of being a good read.

Book provided by Goodreads
R. C.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The first chapter was awkward and ugly and I didn't get it right away. By the end of the third chapter I felt like a fool. The protagonist is awkward and ugly and no one gets him right away, and by the end... This story, which is absurdist and confusing and alarming, is going to inform my heart forever.
Angie Hershey Boehm
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I had to dissect my feelings when I finished this. I have to say that I enjoyed it.

I don't ready very many character-driven novels, so at times this was kind of slow for me. However, it was interesting to follow Hug's life and see how he impacted the people around him. There are a couple of questions that I did not get answers to, and I wanted to know more about Meredith.
Britt, Book Habitue
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
received for review
Maybe a 3.5? I don't know... this one was really hard to rate. There were various editing issues which are hopefully just because I had an ARC. Many parts bothered me or made me uncomfortable, but I think that was intentional.
Overall it's a touching if utterly odd tale.... a good choice for fans of Neil Gaiman.
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"S. Craig Zahler is certain to become one of the great imaginers of our time." ― Clive Barker

Novelist S. Craig Zahler is also the writer, director, and musical co-composer for the movies, Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99, and Dragged Across Concrete

"Five-plus stars to Hug Chickenpenny. Complex, well-drawn characterizations, compelling imagery and a well-ordered story..." ― Publishers Daily Re