So far, people have had some really nice things to say about Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird. I haven’t gotten that really horrible review yet that I’m waiting on – because I know it’s coming. I’m kinda looking forward to it, because I feel like that’s when I’ll have arrived. Unless the nerds are trashing you on a message board somewhere, you really aren’t making a substantial contribution to pop-culture.
And while, I am a badass, and my heart is a tiny, bullet-riddled black orb in a sea of quicksand-like smashed-emotional pirate ship wreckage of stone cold stoicism, you know, I’ve got feelings too. I have the ability to recognize when someone is paying me a compliment, I guess I’m just never really prepared for those compliments to come my way. I never consider that something I wrote is going to resonate with someone on a level that they’ll take the time out of their busy day and head onto the interwebz and soap-box it to the world. For everyone who has taken the time to do that, taken it upon themselves to say something good (or bad, fingers crossed) about Billy Purgatory, I would like to offer a sincere thanks. I appreciate you all reading it more than you could ever know, much less reviewing it, asking questions about it, or wanting to know when the next book is coming. I’m eternally grateful.
Considering I only wrote the book because I made a $10 bet with Robert Heinlein that I couldn’t start my own religion, it’s nice to see people reading and enjoying.
This review was posted on Amazon, by a fellow writer I’ve come to know from Twitter who decided to read the book. I’m re-posting with his permission:
Vampires, mythology, thrashing and time-travel mash together to become the start of a most satisfying hero adventure in BILLY PURGATORY: I AM THE DEVIL BIRD, the extraordinary debut novel by Jesse James Freeman. Told with post-modern self-confidence, irreverent humor and swaggering wit, BILLY defies a simple label. Best that we call it “rich” and leave it at that.
Billy is unlike any hero you’ve ever encountered, and yet he is the Every Hero. Dude’s as badass as they come…but he starts out in the sweet shape of a ten year-old kid with a scar, a skateboard, and something of an attitude. His dad has a half-missing leg and a past he won’t talk about, and Billy has questions about his long-absent mother that no one seems to want to answer. A not-so-chance encounter with a vampire clan and an elusive time-manipulating “zombie” sets him on a path of discovery that carries him into adulthood, on an unending mission to find her no matter what stands in his way to prevent it. All of this makes BILLY sound like a fun round of adventure (and it is, to be sure) which gets the story off to a running start. Then, in a magnificent sleight-of-pen, Freeman skillfully adds layers of mythology, weaves in elements of fable and story-tells in shades of tall tales and legend, until the story becomes as much larger-than-life as the hero at its core. New chapters speak from the perspectives of other characters; time is toyed with in hopscotch fashion, mirroring the underlying menace and confusion of the Time Zombie. The Purgatory family history plays out one mind-bending element at a time, tying everything together, in a fashion. And set squarely at the core of it all is an unending back-and-forth with Anastasia, the Last of the Red-Hot Vampire Daughters, who unceasingly appears to complicate Billy’s existence at the most inopportune of moments…and that’s for a reason, too. This is as thick as tale-telling gets, folks – and all of it comes wrapped in sarcastic, wink-and-nudge humor underlying the tension. The result is a literary marvel that kept me reading at a slower-than-usual pace…I honestly didn’t want it to end. And I’m already planning on re-reading it very soon.
Had BILLY existed when I was thirteen years old, I would have carried my copy everywhere and read it over and over again – dog-earred and highlighted, spine-cracked and cover-worn, it would have been where I studied the authorly life lesson of How to Write a Story. Freeman has channeled so much into these pages, it’s difficult not to linger within and pore over every paragraph. The vampire element alone is a completely fresh imagining of the bloodsucker myth. Add to that a liberal swath of Greek goddess drama, a taut “romance” destined to remain complicated, and a family dynamic beset by cosmic tragedy, and you have a novel that can’t be categorized. The story is epic; the telling, cinematic. This is how I imagine a YA story would read had Quentin Tarantino, Akiro Kurosawa, Tony Hawk and Joseph Campbell met up in a bar in the jungles of the South Pacific and each threw in their own hundred pages. It is, in a word, brilliant. Now, Mr. Freeman: About book number two…
Thanks for reading, Steven, aka Joe Vampire – and thanks for posting a review!
And I promise everyone, with badassary as my word and bond, that as soon as I get a crappy review, I’ll post it too.