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Monday, March 29, 2021

Birds of Paradise by Oliver K. Langmead review

 


Official Author Website
Order Birds of Paradise HERE

ABOUT AUTHOR: Oliver Langmead is an author and poet based in Glasgow. His long-form poem, Dark Star, featured in the Guardian's Best Books of 2015. Oliver is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow, where he is researching terraforming and ecological philosophy, and in late 2018 he undertook a writing residency at the European Space Agency's Astronaut Centre in Cologne, writing about astronauts and people who work with astronauts.

FORMAT: Titan Books (March 30, 2021). Page Count - 304 pages. Cover design by Julia Lloyd.

OVERVIEW: Birds of Paradise follows Adam. Yes, that Adam. The first man. Created before Death, Adam has lived countless lives. When his last job ends in a disaster, he takes on a new identity. This time, however, things get more complicated than usual. After meeting with an old friend, The Rook, Adam sets out to recover scattered fragments of the Garden of Eden.

The narrative moves smoothly between meditative and explosive. Adam is a HUGE man who loves gardening and peace. He's no stranger to war as proven by countless scars and bits of shrapnel trapped in his body. Exhausted by the endless death and destruction (of the Earth, of his beloved flora, and his past lives amongst humans), he misses Eve and his long-lost home. Things happen to him and he reacts, but I wouldn't call him the brain of the operation. I loved the way Langmead has hinted at his size. 

Besides Adam, the story features his friends - Edenic creatures able to transform into humans at will. Most of them lead successful lives. Some, like Butterfly, Crab, or Pig prefer freedom and arts. No one should underestimate any of them. Those who do, suffer. Or die. Owl or Pig’s ferocity and ruthlessness in a fight result in a high body count. The Rook destroys his enemies through his lawyers. As Senior Partner in Corvid & Corvid law office, he’ll own your life and wealth in a heartbeat, having you on your knees begging for mercy.

The story focuses on the characters and their longing for paradise. As the country floods once more, they cooperate to rebuild the Garden and stop bad people from doing bad things. In Birds of Paradise, antagonists are arrogant people positioning themselves above the rest of the creation. 

I loved how the story connected mythology with everyday life and sorrows. While strongly influenced by Christian mythology, the book doesn’t feature god. I wouldn't call it religious. It's more action and character-oriented. It uses elements of fantasy, thriller, drama, and magical realism to tell an emotionally engaging and unique story. Highly recommended for readers looking for something fresh.

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