2028, eight years after a pandemic swept across Europe, the virus has been defeated and normal life has resumed.
Memories of The Lockdown have already become clouded by myths, rumour and conspiracy.
Books have been written, movies have been released and the names Robertson, Miller & Maccallan have slipped into legend.
Together they hauled The Crows, a ragged group of virus survivors, across the ruins of London. Kept them alive, kept them safe, kept them moving.
But not all myths are true and not all heroes are heroes.
Questions are starting to be asked about what really happened during those days when society crumbled and the capital city became a killing ground.
Finally the truth will be revealed.
Hi and welcome to my review of King of the Crows!
These days I can hardly be bothered to write up reviews for books I have to review, yet here I am, about to start a ramble about a book I could just put back on the shelf and forget all about. Except that I want to stick with King of the Crows just a little while longer, hopefully talking about it will stave off the impending book hangover.
That’s the thing with big books, innit? Well the good ones, anyway. You get stuck in a world and by the end you can’t bear to leave it. It’s not that I feel a particular bond with any of the characters (although the characterisation is sublime), it’s more that this is such an addictive story. Or rather multiple stories.
There are two major storylines: one is set in 2021, the other in 2028. In 2021 the world is in the thralls of a pandemic. The long and short of it is: Toxoplasmosis Gondii has mutated and people are getting sick and eventually turn into zombie-like beings. Not actual zombies, they haven’t died and resurrected, that’s an important distinction to make, they are dying but the virus is keeping them alive. Anyway, in 2021 the remaining healthy people are trying to stay that way, and some band together, there’s strength in numbers after all. Crows are thriving with the lack of cats and the abundance of food (carrion eaters don’t ya know) and the spiritually inspired / crazies (take your pick) see signs in everything the crows do and don’t, and become known as Crows themselves, adorning themselves with feathers. Three men – Robertson, Miller & Maccallan – become known as the Kings of the Crows, going down into history as the heroes who saved their flock. In 2028, the world is recovering and a police investigation is carried out into Robertson, who might not be the hero the world thinks he is.
These two storylines are interlaced with some sort of explanatory dictionary entries, as the pandemic brings about its own vocabulary. There is also Donna’s story, an American stuck in Paris when the madness begins. There’s a screenplay of a film made about the King of the Crows, which gets most of the facts (if not all) wrong. There are chatroom discussions between movie buffs and conspiracy theorists and everything in between, the biography of the King of the Crows, letters, …
One might think: what an absolute cacophony! One would be wrong: it works like a charm. These are short chapters, providing lovely intermezzos that keep the story going (where one might think they would slow it down) and more importantly, as a whole you get this feeling of reality. There is nothing this author hasn’t considered about his world and the reader is sucked into it, enveloped, submerged.
King of the Crows is one of a kind. At nigh 600 pages it’s not a short book by any means, but because it’s so well-written and because of its multi-faceted structure it reads like a much shorter one. I have been waiting A VERY LONG time for this one. Last year, Fahrenheit Big Boss Chris McVeigh mentioned it on Twitter, said a zombie heist thriller was coming from Russell Day, and boy, had there been a waiting list, my name would have been at the top! I pre-ordered it but then our real-life pandemic threw not one, but multiple spanners in the works and it was sent out to me not once, not twice, but three times. All I can say is: it was well worth the wait! Recommended!
King of the Crows is available directly from Fahrenheit Press here. The paperback is available at a huge discount at the moment (note that when you buy a paperback from Fahrenheit Press you will get the eBook for free) AND this weekend you can get 1 eBook (King of the Crows or any other Fahrenheit title) for free by using the code THANKYOU at the check-out. So don’t hesitate, come join the murder right now!