by Shane Gregory
Genre: Horror, Zombies
Fire Birds is the third installment in Shane Gregory's The King of Clayfield series. If that sounds familiar, you've either become part of the cool crowd and purchased it, or you saw my previous review on the first two books or the author interview. Well, either of those options will land you in the cool crowd, I guess. Like in the previous books, our main character remains nameless. I remember spending hours searching for a name when writing my original review. It was expected this time, so no need to search. There were a few moments where a name could have been pretty helpful, and I feel for Shane as I can imagine him trying to write around this caveat.
"Who's this?" he said.
"Him," Julio replied. "Sara's boyfriend, man."
"Oh," he said, "him."
A name would have been easier in these moments.
Our main character, let's call him Mr. X for the sake of the review, begins shortly after book 2 leaves off. Mr. X is alone, having lost Jen early on (thank god...I still think she was a whiny bitch) and now Sara. In his efforts to clear out Clayfield, he comes across a disturbing amount of decapitated heads and a collection of yellow cars. And then, by sheer luck, he finds Sara, returned from Biloxi to find him. But Sara isn't alone...she's got a new boyfriend (WTF?! Apparently two months in an apocalypse is longer than real time) and another couple with her. So, we've got ourselves quite the love triangle. Grant, Sara's new beau, is a loose cannon. His immaturity and failure to accept losing Sara to Mr. X causes a chain of events that lead to the death of some of their own.
Mr. X goes from a one man show to quite the collection of wackos. I don't know what it is about Shane Gregory, but he has a knack for writing women that I hate from a visceral level. Sara, once an innocent, likable character, transformed into quite the skank while on sabbatical from Mr. X.
No King of Clayfield book would be complete without a major psycho, and Bruce Lee delivers on a grand scale. His Bipolar personality had me laughing, then cringing, then laughing again. What's a little cos-play among crazies, right? Caring less about people and more about Star Trek memorabilia, I thought to myself "Man, Mr. X should blow that mother-effer up with his little toys."
I enjoyed the double entendre of the title "Fire Birds". Whether intentional or purely accidental, it worked for me. It's always fun to find little Easter eggs. I also really appreciated that Shane brought back a character we had seen early on. And, surprisingly enough, I actually LIKE Cheryl! Hopefully she doesn't go into full skank mode and tear that first impression from me.
To sum things up, I was excited to get my hands on Fire Birds. It had been a good chunk of time since reading the first two installments, but I didn't need any refreshers. Shane has written some really unique tidbits into his version of the apocalypse that make The King of Clayfield stand out among others in the genre. His work evokes a strong opinion in me and invites me into it's pages in such a way that I feel a connection to it's characters. I adore it's originality and will definitely stalk him for more. Five stars to Fire Birds from The Bookie Monster. In hindsight, I wonder if I had read the books in order (I read book two before book one) if I would have awarded them five stars as well. I get it now. Shane Gregory's books have earned their place in my heart and obviously, my blog.
The Bookie Monster's Rating:
For weeks, the town’s museum director has fought the undead and has believed that he was Clayfield’s sole survivor. But when odd things begin to happen, it becomes clear that other healthy people are around. A friend shows up unexpectedly full of trouble and secrets, and they are not alone. Another group of survivors brings even more secrets and conflict.
And then there’s Bruce, the new guy in Clayfield. Bruce likes the zombie apocalypse just fine. He gets to be the person he could not be before the outbreak. He is in Clayfield looking for fun, but his brand of fun could destroy the town.
Enemies must tolerate each other out of necessity, and friendships are tested. One person in the group of survivors knows something that the others do not: The rumors are true; something bad is definitely coming to Clayfield, and there could be no way to stop it and nowhere to hide.
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