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Butcher Bird

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,787 ratings  ·  265 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 (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,787 ratings  ·  265 reviews

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Jeremiah Genest
Sep 26, 2007 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 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. ...more
Althea Ann
Nov 24, 2011 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
Mar 07, 2008 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
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
DNF'ing at about 35-40% And yes I rate DNF's.

This is pre-Sandman Slim, which I loved, and clearly in this book Kadrey has not yet grasped the art of less-is-more. If you like your UF a little over-the-top then this is probably for you, but it's not a good introduction.

I love Kadrey's work but I'll be going back to Slim instead I think.
Feb 20, 2009 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
Jul 03, 2011 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 b
Nov 03, 2007 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
Jun 23, 2012 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
May 11, 2012 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
Sep 06, 2013 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
Feb 18, 2009 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
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
I adore Richard Kadrey's writing, but this is so very clearly a first novel for him. The book feels like it's trying very hard to be cool or edgy, making it difficult to get through to the point that I just could not finish it. Also, I absolutely abhor saying it because it's a very, very harsh thing to say, but it's very obvious that Spyder Lee is a Gary Stu. I hate saying that, but that's the way he reads to me.

Honestly, the book was on thin ice with me once Shrike said she was a princess. Not
Aug 24, 2010 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
Tim Poston
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excerpt (note the 2007 date of the book)

. . . They’ll spend eternity right here by this river of shit. We don’t have that option. If we don’t move, Shrike’s going to die.”
The voices of the wandering souls grew quiet, then came back louder than ever. Lulu said, “Remember how I used say it was all ironic with you named Spyder, that you’re so afraid of spiders?”
“We worked that over once or twice.”
“Be glad you’re blind right now. I shit you not, there’s a twelve-foot-tall spider strolling down the s
Susan Weniger
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love books that are so well written I find myself pausing to go back and re-read certain lines or passages. The ideas presented in mind blowing descriptive detail that makes me stop and say "whoa!", or "WTF!?", and pull out my packet of colour flag markers so I can go back and read those brilliant passages time and time again. THIS is one of those books. LOVE the characters, the world, and the story. Thank you, Mr. Kadrey, that was one hell of a ride. ...more
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook-audiobook, 2021
The only Audible book I own, but didn't care for the narrator in the first few chapters. Picked up the ebook again after UHH ten years, honestly a lot more fun than I remembered. Very 2007, but not in a bad way. ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fun vacation read.
Ok early urban fantasy from Kadrey that contains most of the ideas that would become Sandman Slim.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was a fine mix of tremendously overdone and extreme ennui; there was no in between.

I like to call this kind of book a "stab and walk journey." A series of events that aren't as much lucky as they are pointless and predictable.

Two stars is generous.
I love urban fantasies about angels & demons, gods & mythological creatures, so I would naturally be inclined to enjoy this book. However, it is definitely not on a literary par with Neil Gaiman's incredible, 5-star (IMHO) "American Gods" - another modern fantasy dealing with mythology. Nevertheless, I've enjoyed this merry romp through Hell (& other assorted places) so much that, like "American Gods", I have now read this book a couple of times, & will very likely re-read it again in the future ...more
May 29, 2012 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
Beth Roberts
I thought this was going to be straight Urban Fantasy, but it veered off into Weird Fiction pretty early on. Now I admit, I haven't read much Weird Fiction in the past, and there's a reason for that. All the Old Gods and deep space monsters resembling sea creatures and endless black-hole voids just leaves my blonde-girl brain spinning off into babbling nonsense. A Lovecraft girl I am not. As far as I'm concerned, that poor guy needed some serious medication.

Nonetheless, I liked this book. It wa
Fantasy Literature
Oct 03, 2013 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
Stephanie Graves
Mar 06, 2013 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
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 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
Nov 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
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
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.
Michelle Morrell
Sep 28, 2010 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. ...more
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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. ...more

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