Butcher Bird (2008)

Blind Shrike is an unpublished novel (UPDATE: not anymore), which is a damn shame, because this is one hell of a good book. The main character Spyder, after having a near-death-experience with a demon, has his sight changed. He is somehow able to perceive more things than before, all over his city creatures and places from myths and legends of all cultures pop up. They exist side by side with the normal human world, but humans can’t see them.

When an old friend of his is threatened by some creatures knowns as the Black Clerks, Spyder helps her. He is marked by them, which doesn’t bode well for his future. Thinking that his sight isn’t a blessing, he tries to find the one person who might help him with the mark and know of a way to become how he had once been. But the woman known to him only as Blind Shrike, she was the one who helped him survive his encounter with the demon, has her own problems and agendas.

Great plot, excellent pacing, characters who are likable and who work together very well, fun and the neat and imaginative fantasy background. While some plot developments are predictable, it doesn’t deter from the enjoyment of reading the book. If you like Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” and “Neverwhere”, or Clive Barker’s “Imajica”, you will find something similar here, a character who slowly discovers that there’s a magical world beside the mundane world he knows. It reminded me also of the Planescape RPG setting, with its richness and diversity of creatures and places that don’t feel like common fantasy fare. Like I said, it’s a shame this book hasn’t been published in print, but thankfully Kadrey has put it on the web for free.

2005 published online at The Infinity Matrix as Blind Shrike (online)
2008 published offline by Nightshade Books as Butcher Bird (online)