Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Billy Purgatory: I Am the Devil Bird

Billy Purgatory: I Am the Devil Bird.

Skateboards, vampires, ancient gods and goddesses, the Vietnam War, Jimmy Hoffa, zombies and LBJ. What do they all have in common? A unique and seamlessly woven blend of mythologies and pop culture called Billy Purgatory, I Am the Devil Bird. It is a story that jumps through time and space and artfully written by Jesse James Freeman.

In his first novel, Mr. Freeman takes us on the first stage of Billy Purgatory’s journey. As best described by the author:

Billy Purgatory happens to be the most badass skateboarder and sweet talker any broad can meet--even at the age of ten. He is also the target of supernatural forces he can't understand, and doesn't want to.

Billy just can't seem to avoid all things Monster. Growing up, he encounters Devil Birds, gypsies, Time Zombies and vampires (and not the kind you want to bring home to your Pop, either). He tries to convince himself they're not real by joining the army, fixes cars and even goes to Vegas. But whenever Billy thinks he's put it all behind him, a monster shows up, and it's usually in the form of the beautiful Anastasia...

This description only barely scratches the surface of the world that Billy lives in as he tries to run from himself and the world. When we first meet Billy, he is a street-wise kid who speaks in a voice somewhere between a modern Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield. He is an observer in his world, a wounded child where you see glimpses of the innocent inside. Yet he is ready to battle with just about anyone. And he gets his wish as all kinds of mythic and supernatural beings enter his life, including said Devil Bird, a giant rooster that drinks too much tequila, fights humans and, in its spare time, acts as an oracle.

As he grows, hard to say matures, his voice takes on a more somber, hardened tone. Occasionally we get to glimpse the boy within, especially when it comes to his relationships with women. The two most complex women in his life are his mother, who is most certainly missing and may be dead, and Anastasia, who is definitely un-dead and not missing enough for Billy (or maybe not around enough—it’s complicated).

Mr. Freeman peoples Billy Purgatory with a well drawn cast of secondary characters. If I had any complaint about this first novel, however, it would be with these secondary characters. Some I want to know more about and perhaps they will reappear in later additions to this series. Some seemed unnecessary, although with Mr. Freeman’s imagination and the wild ride we are on with his novel, he may have plans for them, too.

Perhaps, my only other complaint is that nothing is resolved. While I know this is deliberate on Mr. Freeman’s account, I found it somewhat un-nerving. Perhaps it is just my traditional mind trying to wrap itself around a well written genre-blending or breaking novel.

Billy Purgatory is Jesse James Freeman's first novel. He's also studied psychology and film and scripted comics. When he's not writing books, Jesse James trains falcons to kill Leprechaun Robots, and will continue to do so until the world is relatively safe. 

I give Billy Purgatory: I Am the Devil Bird


Billy Purgatory: I Am the Devil Bird can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

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