Brinkley Springs is a quiet little town. Some say the town is dying. They don't know how right they are. Five mysterious figures are about to pay a visit to Brinkley Springs. They have existed for centuries, emerging from the shadows only to destroy. To kill. To feed. They bring terror and carnage, and leave blood and death in their wake. The only person that can prevent their rampage is ex-Amish magus (and fan favorite character) Levi Stoltzfus. As the night wears on, Brinkley Springs will be quiet no longer. Screams will break the silence. But when the sun rises again, will there be anyone left alive to hear?
BRIAN KEENE writes novels, comic books, short fiction, and occasional journalism for money. He is the author of over forty books, mostly in the horror, crime, and dark fantasy genres. His 2003 novel, The Rising, is often credited (along with Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic and Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later film) with inspiring pop culture’s current interest in zombies. Keene’s novels have been translated into German, Spanish, Polish, Italian, French, Taiwanese, and many more. In addition to his own original work, Keene has written for media properties such as Doctor Who, Hellboy, Masters of the Universe, and Superman.
Several of Keene’s novels have been developed for film, including Ghoul, The Ties That Bind, and Fast Zombies Suck. Several more are in-development or under option. Keene also serves as Executive Producer for the independent film studio Drunken Tentacle Productions.
Keene also oversees Maelstrom, his own small press publishing imprint specializing in collectible limited editions, via Thunderstorm Books.
Keene’s work has been praised in such diverse places as The New York Times, The History Channel, The Howard Stern Show, CNN.com, Publisher’s Weekly, Media Bistro, Fangoria Magazine, and Rue Morgue Magazine. He has won numerous awards and honors, including the World Horror 2014 Grand Master Award, two Bram Stoker Awards, and a recognition from Whiteman A.F.B. (home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber) for his outreach to U.S. troops serving both overseas and abroad. A prolific public speaker, Keene has delivered talks at conventions, college campuses, theaters, and inside Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, VA.
The father of two sons, Keene lives in rural Pennsylvania.
My initial impression of A Gathering Of Crows wasn’t favourable, but as the story progressed I found myself changing my mind quite a bit. For one thing, this story features Keene’s mysterious mythos dealing with “The Thirteen” which is fabulous stuff, and reminiscent of the ideas H.P. Lovecraft liked to employ. And for another, this book also features a rather endearing and somewhat out-of-the-box protagonist in the ex-Amish magus Levi Stoltzfus, who roams the countryside fighting supernatural evil, not completely unlike the Winchester brothers in the TV series. There is one big difference though: instead of driving a muscle car, our bearded hero utilizes a horse and cart, much to everybody’s bewilderment (the story does take place in a present-day setting).
I had come across the mythos of The Thirteen when I read Darkness on the Edge of Town but I didn’t know that it was a theme that was shared across other Keene novels. I have also, in the meantime, become wise to the fact that there are other Levi Stoltzfus novels as well, which I will certainly add to my TBR list.
In a nutshell, this Horror story deals with five shady characters arriving at a backwater town and creating havoc in the form of grisly murder and mayhem. The town also gets cut off from the rest of the world, creating an environment of isolation (again, much like Darkness on the Edge of Town). If you enjoy novels dealing with the occult and with a fair bit of gore, this might be up your alley. There is also a bit of fantasy thrown into the mixture, but it’s generally dark stuff all round. The big mystery, of course: who are these five men and why are they doing this?
If you’ve read Brian Keene before, you’ll know what to expect. That said, this isn’t the best Keene book I have read so far, so maybe it isn’t the ideal place to start. Keene is immensely popular in horror circles, but I do find him to be a bit of an acquired taste.
And I again I am thwarted by the Goodreads rating system. This book is not 4 stars, and it is not 3 stars, it is 3.5 stars. Or, 7 out of 10. So, do I round up or down? I’ll just toss a coin. Or a severed ear.
A Gathering of Crows is about a small town in the middle of nowhere, it's citizens are held prisoner from the rest of the world and their souls are consumed one by one by a group of invulnerable blood thirsty monsters. The set up is presented in a way that is truly terrifying, especially toward the later half of the book. Though this is a self contained story, it is really a follow up to Brian Keene's other novel called Ghost Walk. The main protagonist named Levi Stoltzfus is reintroduced for new readers, unlike in Ghost Walk we find out more about his mysterious past in Gathering of Crows. I found myself very intrigued by Levi's occult abilities and how he uses that knowledge to save people from paranormal threats.
The main draw to A Gathering of Crows is how it connects with Brian Keene's other novels. I believe the awesomeness of this book would be lost on those who aren't familiar with his previous work and existing mythology. Without spoiling anything there are some major throwbacks in this book to Earthworm Gods, Tequila's Sunrise, and subtle hints to his upcoming Labyrinth series. The main antagonists in this story are very formidable, however once again they are more interesting because the tie into the mythology of The Thirteen. Readers who have read Brian Keene's other series will be already acquainted with who the Thirteen are and how they are a threat to mankind's existence.
This is the third book in The Levi Stoltzfus series, so far this one has been my favorite. While I did enjoy both Dark Hollow and Ghost Walk, Gathering of Crows has the most interesting protagonists and antagonists in my opinion. The stakes just seemed to be higher and the main crises seemed to be a scarier one in my eyes. Probably because the town has their very own souls at stake, for me having your soul eaten and consumed is a scary thought! I give this book a easy five out five stars for it's exciting climax and satisfying cast of characters! I recommend this book easily to anyone who loves Brian Keene's work!
I want to say thank you to Mehmet and the others who read this series with me so far. They have been a wonderful group of online friends. Without them I probably would of left Goodreads a long time ago and joined another website. It is thanks to good people like this that I rediscovered the joy of reading and I'm now collecting horror books again! Thank you for being such great reading buddies! If you are looking for a place to discuss Brian Keene books, I can't recommend this topic enough!
The crows are coming to Brinkley Springs, West Virginia.
With them, they will bring much death and mayhem.
Thankfully, an excommunicated Amish magnus is on the scene with his “Long Lost Friend”. Let the fight for the town’s souls begin.
I like Keene’s work. His style flows easy and the action he pens in this one gathers some serious speed as the story progresses.
Chet Williamson’s narration takes a minute to warm up to, but after listening to it for a while I don’t know how it could have been narrated by anyone else. His deep brooding cadence added a lot to the ambiance of the story. Well done all around. 3.5 Stars
A GATHERING OF CROWS, by Brian Keene, is a novel featuring his recurring character, Levi Stoltzfus. The town of Brinkley Springs is already dying out, but five "people" come along to ensure that it happens at a much more rapid--and bloody--pace.
I loved the action, the lore that encompassed some Lovecraftian themes, and the infusion of some historical fiction to tie into this tale. Unfortunately, I felt that it took about half of the book to really get to that point. The beginning seemed more to set up the characters--a little too much in the case of some of them. However, once Levi arrives on the scene, things really begin to pick up and I was able to start putting some of the pieces together.
Overall, a little "slow" for my tastes in the first half, but the second half just flew by!
I usually rely on Brian Keene for a good, old fashioned, gory-spooky fun fest. I felt that he went above and beyond the call of duty this time. Levi Stoltzfus, the former Amish man who still dresses like he's Amish and is a master of powwow and dark magic and knows how to go to other dimensions, is by far one of the most interesting protagonists of this day and age.
The story was a lovely tale of potential apocalypse (reminding me a little bit of his novel Darkness on the Edge of Town- my favorite Keene novel until I read this one) that goes to places one would never expect it to upon beginning the book. I especially love that he channeled some of the classic mythology used by Lovecraft and in Supernatural (my favorite tv show) and he did a damn fine job of doing it.
If you like to read and you like horror, then picking up A Gathering Of Crows is really a no-brainer. I can't really find anything wrong with it.
Even tho the book was shorter than I liked & it took me longer to read than normal it was a really good book! The main character is one of the best characters in any horror series I have read definitely one of my favorites. The storyline was really good & it never let up off the suspense for a minute. I definitely recommend this to any horror fans!
Ако някога решите да подхванете творчеството на Брайън Кийн, то тази книга би била едно чудесно начало. Между скромните си триста страници романът събира всички праведни елементи на кийновата проза. Масов и безсмислен сплатър, мистика, митология, хумор, стереотипи и хитроумни препратки към алтернативна история.
На един по-стар поетичен английски, ято гарвани се е наричало murder. Проверете в гугъл, ако не ми вярвате. И тези пет са точно това. Градчето Бринкли Спрингс го очаква една запомняща се нощ, ако остане някой жив да я помни. До изгрев слънце границите са затворени а жителите подложени на садистичен карнаж (ама как пълни устата тая дума – Сеч? Касапница? Вакханалия? – Carnage! Muy bien!). Бавно и систематично душите им биват изяждани от пет можещи да се преобразяват в гарвани изроди. За тяхно нещастие през града случайно минава Леви Щолцфус - Бившият амиш и настоящ магьосник с неизменната си двуколка (Ти, знаеш ли колко струва бензина в наши дни?), рошавата брада (Свободен съм, мисля че жените и се кефят), сламената шапка (Ми, като всички ос��анали, да не ми пече слънцето главата) и мобилният си телефон (А какво да използвам? Пощенски гълаби?) – който ще направи всичко по силите си за да ги спре.
Първите двеста страници са си типичен сплатър, където автора успява с по 2-3 изречения да ни направи някой герой симпатичен и да ни накара да ни пука за него, след което да го убие по възможно най-садистичен начин. Няма значение дали са жени, деца, стари хора, инвалиди, добитък или домашни любимци. После се намесва Леви и нещата си идват по местата. Дори успява да ме изненада на финала, като спаси шепа хора с риск за живота си. Много сериозно подковани магична система, световна митология, митът за 13-те и лабиринта. Отново присъстват връзки с други произведения на автора, а паяжината му опъва крайщата си и към митът за Ктхулу на Лъвкрафт и Тъмната Кула на Кинг (даже май мернах ка-тета на Роланд в една сцена).
Много ми допадна микса между класически кървав хорър и най-мрачно градско фентъзи. Вдига и двата жанра на ново ниво. Препоръчвам, дори и да не прочетете нищо друго от автора, макар че така ще се изгуби част от удоволствието.
Better than the second, almost as good as the first. This one didn't have LeHorn's Hollow, but takes place in another small town with the same of one of the thirteen entities (Or his revenants in this case). The action starts right away without mystery, and the five villains are beyond wicked in their creepiness. A flock of crows is called a murder....quoted in the book and true in this case. Plenty of death and eerie moments, a supernatural and creative battle, some characters who comes alive in different ways (love the Spiderman bedroom slippers, come on, who wouldn't.) Creepy and atmospheric, Levi grew on me more as a battle-weary soldier of the Lord who dabbles in all sorts of magic and still has a lot of secrets up his sleeve.
The town of Brinkley Springs is about to become a hunting ground. Five otherworldly beasts descend upon the populace, their hunger for death and destruction insatiable. Levi Stoltzfus finds himself amongst those in danger, yet he proves anything but helpless. Along with some unexpected allies, magus Levi must discover the identity of the ravaging monsters, and figure out a way to stop them.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
To show support for the author Brian Keene, of whom suffered an accident and has subsequent insurance issues, Horror Aficionados selected this title for the monthly group listen in July. I simply had to join in as it was a good cause, and I’m all for helping a writer in need. As for the audiobook in general, well, I was at first put off by the narrator, Chet Williamson. Don’t get me wrong, Chet wasn’t bad at all, but his voice took a while to get used to. If I were to describe it, the words “powerful” and “booming” come to mind, so it was a very intense experience indeed. I also found it difficult to distinguish between characters at times, especially when it came to the male personalities. After some hours, however, I was able to get into the rhythm of Chet’s mighty voice-over and focus primarily on the story. Despite being the third installment in the series, this one sufficiently stood as an independent volume - as far as I’m aware, the adventures of Levi Stoltzfus can be enjoyed in any order. Of course, there are running themes throughout, but Keene always seemed willing to share lengthy, yet relevant information and pieces of history.
The story begun as rather slow, with the repetition of certain details. If there’s one specific thing that irks me in any form of media, it’s the retelling of something that I already know. Brinkley Springs was a dying town, I understood that the very first time it was stated, and I really didn’t need to be reminded with the introduction of every new character. It may be a minor thing to some, but for me it’s a personal grievance. It became apparent that most of the beginning was comprised of useless, and not very interesting, elements of people's lives. They did little to connect me to the residents, as soon enough they would fall victim to the monsters. What I wanted was to get familiar with the man himself, but Levi's appearance took time to come about, and when it did, it usually wasn't for long.
The further the plot progressed, the more I came to enjoy it. Levi's presence eventually became the main focal point; his investigation of the horrific occurrences afflicting the town improved my overall feeling of the book. There was a tremendous amount of death, and it, in all its graphic glory, had very little in terms of limits. Children, animals, the elderly, all were fair game and sought out like animals. Whilst the aftermath was largely centred upon - the state of the bodies after the initial murder, there were a few scenes that depicted the actual killing. It was brutal, and I do favour brutality.
I can't say I became attached to anyone but Levi, and even then I believe that to be able to fully appreciate him I'd have to delve further into the series; from what I could gather, his history was certainly intriguing. As for the others, well, there was a romance I didn't care about, and the surviving group in general didn't strike me as anything special. The villains, whilst amusing with their shape-shifting shenanigans, were awfully single minded and thus had little depth. I suppose that was the point; they were minions, set upon one specific goal.
My interest soared to new heights when the mythology of The Thirteen came into play. I don’t know much of Keene’s Lovecraftian lore, but by goodness I devoured it. To be honest, it was the best thing about the entire novel; the snippets of information relating to these nefarious entities. Due to my fascination, it was therefore a real treat when Levi transported himself to another realm right at the end. I actually couldn't get enough of it.
In conclusion: It was a very weak beginning, but it improved, and by the end I was well and truly drawn into Keene's Labyrinth Mythos. There's no doubt that I'll be seeking out more of his work.
Brinkley Springs may have been dying, but it doesn't deserve to be murdered.
Levi Lives! That is the inscription inside my copy of A Gathering of Crows, along with the author’s signature. I had the honor of meeting Brian Keene at Killercon 2018, where I purchased this book after fangirling like a moron. The story behind my discovery of this book and the message with the autograph is hilarious and embarrassing and is in a different post here.
But, Levi Lives! And that is exciting. The Levi Stoltzfus stories are creative and dark and creepy and so much fun to read. A Gathering of Crows is no exception.
The story begins strong as Keene introduces the reader to the ominous evil as well as the town in the first chapter. The story builds upon itself from there, flowing from the pages with suspense and terror to batter the mind and senses. Keene combines real world histories and legends with realistic characters to bring the horrors to vivid life.
Keene is at his finest in this well-written, engrossing tale, bringing the story to life with masterful execution as only he can. A Gathering of Crows is suspenseful, compelling, blatant, and downright frightening. It is the full horror entertainment package.
While reading the previous Levi stories is not necessary to the enjoyment of this one, I recommend it. But make your own choice. Once you read this one, you will want to read the others.
Reviewer Notation: This is not mainstream. Some of the content is explicit and the subject matter is truly frightening.
Brinkley Springs is a quiet little town that some say is dying. And they are about to find out they are right.
Five strangers are about to pay Brinkley Springs a visit and they only emerge from the darkness to kill.
Only one person can stop them and that is Levi Stoltzfus.
This is the third book in the Levi Stoltzfus series. I read the first two books, Dark Hollow and Ghost Walk quite a while ago. I loved both of those books and they are a few of my favorites by Brian Keene.
There are existing connections to other Brian Keene books in this one, including some of the mythology of The Thirteen.
I like Dark Hollow and Ghost Walk better because I felt more of a connection to the main characters in those books more so than this one. That's not to say I didn't like the main characters in this one; I did. But, I feel the characters in the two previous books were more developed. Levi, however, is the exception and I think he was further developed quite well in this book.
I would say my favorite character is Levi, he's very interesting and I liked learning more about his past.
Overall, I did like this book and I'm looking forward to starting the next book in the Levi series.
Not Keenes best. There's a lot of filler in this one. It could have easily been shorter without losing anything important to the story. Another issue was that he introduced a character with the same power as fan favorite Levi Stolfutz, who seemed like he was going to be detrimental to the outcome of the story, but ultimately did nothing with him.
On the plus side there is a lot of Keenes Labyrinth Mythos at work in this book. Which is always interesting and really saves this book from being completely mediocre. I recommend this for the authors fans who like to read everything by him and read about the Labyrinth but otherwise it doesn't stand out as a horror novel.
I'm conflicted with this one. On the positive, I love Levi Stoltzfus. Every scene with him in thoroughly enjoyed. Also the mythos of the Thirteen was incredibly enjoyable. However, for me, this was overall not Keene's best. For me it spent too much time on characters I didn't care about, and WAY too much time cutting away to violent death scenes of people we had no investment in whatsoever. It got a little repetitive for me in the middle.
But once I got to the last quarter where Levi got more screentime as we reached the AWESOME climax, I was thoroughly gripped. mixed bag for me, but Levi is a really great character so that went a long way for me.
Not a bad setup for a horror book, and I like Keene's portrayal of small town Appalachia. The metaphor he presents of small town America dying out is possibly a little ham-handed, but apt. This is the second book featuring lapsed Amish and powwow magus Levi. Levi seems to be there to provide lengthy info dumps on Keene's Labyrinth mythos, a lot of which is a repeat from the last book Levi was in, Ghost Walk. I like the idea of a mythos tying all of his books together, but it would be better in spoonfuls and not the 64 oz Big Gulp.
Keene has a unique sense of storytelling in that he gives you exactly what you need to read when you need to read it without fluff or beating around the bush. His style is as aggressive as his antagonists, his own Mythos well crafted, and his heroes are always all too human for the situations they are thrust into. One thing I would change? Maybe a bit longer but then again it drops all of the page fillers and keeps time for the killers...
I really didn't get interested in this book until the halfway point. The first half was the introduction to numerous characters who may or may not make it through to the end of the book. The play of these character and the traveling man, Levi, was reminiscent of a King novel and not in a good way. For me this was just an "Okay" read.
This book was epic in my view. I was totally swept up into the story. I have read the previous books with Levi the Amish man who isn't Amish, go figure. I really love his strong and intelligent character.
This book had one of the best endings in a horror book Ive read recently. Could have been a movie, it was so well written, so exciting. I couldn't read fast enough Mr. Brian Keene!
After a month of reading self-help books non-stop, I decided it was time for a quick break and return to one of my old passions: horror. My self-help streak broke last year thanks to the amazing Paperbacks From Hell which re-ignited my love for horror novels, especially the pulpy and obscure ones (though, admittedly, a lot of them might be best forgotten). I'd even tried challenging myself to finish Nightmare Magazine's Top 100 Horror Books. (I'm very far behind.)
Imagine my excitement when I could read A Gathering of Crows. I honestly don't remember how I discovered the book (probably a "Readers Also Enjoyed" tab), but it's been on my to-read list since 2012. It's also apparently the third book in a series, but you don't need to read the others to understand this one.
A Gathering of Crows starts its story off with a bang. A group of five crows (also called a murder, which I'm sure was intentional) that can transform into human-like figures come to a small town in the middle of nowhere. They knock down a power line and do something which renders all technology useless.
It's a good start, but the story quickly becomes redundant. The next 300 pages consist of the five figures killing random citizens, some of which are in rather garish methods. The author gives us some backstory on each random character a few pages before they meet their demise. We get to read all about what's on their iPod or how their relationship is going. While I'm not one to dismiss good world-building, it feels really pointless to introduce them only to kill them off a little later. There's one semi-touching scene where a gay character thanks his killer because he's in a shitty relationship thanks to homophobia or something. Every other stock character felt generic and unnecessary.
There's only one main character worth knowing: the protagonist, Levi Stoltzfus, who is some sort of Amish magus. He's not a particularly interesting person outside of his wide breadth of knowledge about mythology.
The villains, who would ideally be the most interesting part of the book, are very disappointing. They're five shadowy humanoid shapeshifters who wear hats, grow talons, and feast on the souls of their victims. It sounds fascinating enough, but these monsters end up being really lame. There's no distinguishing between the five of them, especially since none of them have any worthwhile personalities outside of being evil. Just read some of their dialogue:
"What do you want?" "To kill you," the man said simply.
"Your soul. They taste better when you're scared."
"You helped expedite things for me. As a reward, I shall make your death quick and painless."
There are a few brief magic battles too, but nothing very noteworthy. Levi knows some spells, but we never get a good idea of what the universe's magic system is. There are only two or three scenes with magic and none of them are exciting.
The horror genre, for both books and movies, seems to suffer a lot from over-saturated. Too many half-rate and generic works flood the market. Nearly every offer sounds fascinating, but most potential hidden gems end up falling flat. You might find something incredible like Let The Right One In on Netflix, but have to suffer through subpar offerings like Demonic, Temple, or The Midnight Meat Train. I'm sure this applies to other genres, but horror seems to suffer the most.
A Gathering of Crows is, unfortunately, one of those subpar offerings that will likely remain hidden for a reason. The prose is great and the story is fast-paced, but those aren't enough to redeem it from a lackluster story and lack of suspense.
This is my third Keene book, but the first one I've read in the Levi Stoltzfus series. While I know lots of Brian's fans love the character, unfortunately, he didn't resonate so well with me, neither did the book as a whole.
Keene's book has plenty of action and interesting characters, but I found his mythology in this one a bit too broad. He mixes the Lovecraftian mythos with Christian beliefs, paganism, wiccan elements and some American historical mysteries for good measure. I can suspend disbelief and buy into any and all of these things, but combining them into one story felt disjointed and kept pulling me out of the narrative.
My other problem with this was the narrator. He had great pace and clarity, but his female characters all sounded like children, and Levi's Amish accent 'disappeared' a few times during some of his longer speeches.
I've enjoyed Keene's books on the past and will continue to read them, but I don't think I'll read another in the Levi Stoltzfus series.
Keene does it again. The 2nd of the Levi Stoltzfus books is a joy to read. The bad guys in this are probably some of the nastiest I've seen in one of Keene's books and he doesn't hold up with the interesting and varied ways they go about killing everyone in the town.
If you like Keene's Labyrinth Mythos then this is definitely one for you. You get lots of information on the labyrinth and the thirteen as well as finding out more about Levi and his background. All with an extremely gory and horrific story going on at the same time. I loved the resolution
I'm looking forward to reading more of the Levi books and seeing what other horrors lurk within the depths of the labyrinth
Insgesamt eine gute Geschichte. Auf Grund des Schreibstils bin ich nur so durchs Buch gefolgen. Abzug, weil mir die Charaktere, die früh sterben zu viel vorgestellt wurden und die, die überleben zu wenig. Die Gewalt hat mich eher gelangweilt, vielleicht weil sie zu wenig zur Story beiträgt? Das Finale ist richtig gut gelungen. Ich gebe gute 3 Sterne, fast wären es 4 geworden.
Brinkley Springs is a quiet little town. Some say the town is dying. They don’t know how right they are. Five mysterious figures are about to pay a visit to Brinkley Springs. They have existed for centuries, emerging from the shadows only to destroy. To kill. To feed. They bring terror and carnage, and leave blood and death in their wake. The only person that can prevent their rampage is ex-Amish magus (and fan favorite character) Levi Stoltzfus. As the night wears on, Brinkley Springs will be quiet no longer. Screams will break the silence. But when the sun rises again, will there be anyone left alive to hear?
A Gathering of Crows started out a little bit slow. You get introduced to a lot of characters right away, but don’t get too attached to anyone just yet. It was a slow burner that built as it went along. By the time you got to the half way mark, things were thundering a long at a fast, violent pace. It was gore galore. No, no… Mr. Keene didn’t just have someone get killed, the end. No. People were (in much detail) ripped apart, gutted, with parts ripped off and shoved places. Remember how I said don’t get too attached to anyone? Well, that is because many, many people die. Not just people though. The animals died too. I did not care for the animals getting killed so that is a proceed with caution warning for any other animal lover horror fans out there. At first, I wasn’t so sure I was going to even like this story, but it got better as it went a long. You ride out the slow bit in the beginning and it will start to grow on you.
The best thing about this novel is Mr. Levi Stoltzfus. An ex-Amish magus who deals with the supernatural on a daily basis. At first I didn’t know what to make of him. He was SUCH a good guy. Polite and well mannered. What can I say? I love my flawed anti-heroes and Levi seemed overwhelmingly straight-laced. Remember that this is the first time I’m seeing Mr. Levi, so I don’t know anything about his origin or history pre-book number 3. Slowly he grows on you and then the next thing you know you are all in on Team Levi. Mr. Levi ended up being a very fun character, flexing his psychic ability and magical know how, it was easy to follow along with him and watch him get to work. He seems like an interesting character to get to know.
Another cool thing about A Gathering of Crows, is the mythos hanging out there in the background. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but think of universe on top of universe times infinity, multi-dimensional monsters (Gods?), and good ol’ fashion ancient dark magic. Mr. Keene has spent a lot of time building up this mythos and it shows up in plenty of his other titles.
Now, I had the audiobook for this novel, and my chief complaint was the narrator, Chet Williamson. His voice was big and booming, with not much distention between characters. All the side character males sounded the same, and the same for the women. The only difference was one group would sound old man /woman and the other sounded young man/woman. The 5 bad guys all sounded roughly the same as well, though I guess maybe they were supposed to sound semi-similar? Not sure. Levi is of the Amish peeps and it got a little frustrating because sometimes Chet would lose the Amish Pennsylvanian accent. It kind of came and went. Chet is not the worst narrator I’ve ever heard, but he isn’t the best either. I’d say a 3 (out of 5) will work for over all performance.
I think fans of the supernatural private-eye genre would enjoy this, as well as horror fans who want to add a bit of nasty dark magic to their TBR pile. And if you like gore, you’d probably enjoy this as well. Animal lovers use caution. There are plenty of dead animals in this book. Some a little bit more graphic then others.
A Gathering of Crows is a violent supernatural horror novel that is a fast paced story about the dark arts gone wrong. Interesting characters and mythos to explore. Just, maybe read the book instead of going with the audio.
Brian Keene has been called a lot of things. From a virtuoso writer to the next Stephen King, the man's stories keep the majority of people shivering in their seats. His latest offering, A Gathering of Crows, is no exception.
The story begins in a quiet little one-road town out in the country, when five crows land and transform into murderous men in black. From there, readers are treated to one horrific death after another, narrated with reptilian glee with every drop of blood. Arriving on the scene is Levi, a former Mennonite whose faith now leans toward more of the occult and mystical energies, though he still looks Amish and drives a buggy. It is Levi's task, charged by God, to stop the crows before everyone in the town is reduced to ash.
A Gathering of Crows is full of Keene's signature grotesqueries, from the exaggerated forms of the crows to the horrific ways in which people die. Not a single person, animal, or age group is exempt from his ghoulish rampage, which is part of what makes this book work so well. Because no one is safe, Keene is able to throw the reader off balance, and gives the reader a real sense that if even the children aren't safe, the reader isn't either. It's a tough trick to pull off, but one Keene handles with a deft hand.
Character-wise, the wash of characters are well developed for the most part. Even the tertiary characters, who exist for the sole purpose of being mutilated in a couple of pages, have a backstory and their own little quirks. However, a few of the secondary characters, who figure more prominently to the story, come off as flat. It might be because the main character, Levi, appeared in two previous books, but there are several places where the reader is left wondering why he does what he does, and where he came from. We get that he's on a mission from God and that he has arcane abilities, but much of what he does is without explanation or emotional content. On the other hand, the character of Donny, an Iraq war vet who has come home just long enough to bury his mother, is a wonderfully drawn character, full of uncertainty and angst.
If you've never read a Keene novel, this one is a good place to start. Less brutal than some of his books, but moreso than most on the market, Keene knows how to horrify, disgust and frighten, but still manages to hook his readers and drag them screaming along for the ride.