King Of The Crows - The 1st Review

Posted by Fahrenheit Press on

King of the Crows.

Reviewed by Brian Callar of The Barking Book Blog.

So.......what can you expect from King of the Crows? Well, I and a select few other bloggers have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to read it so without further ado may I present.........

I don’t even know how to start reviewing Russell Day’s King of the Crows to be honest, and even this review took several drafts, believe it or not! I think it is fair to say that it is probably one of the most unique books I have read in terms of its style, structure and content. This is no ordinary novel; its intricate plot threads and set pieces deserve some attention so it’s not a book to read lightly. Although that might just be me, who knows!

Looking at recent entries on Twitter, there appear to be some fledgling authors seemingly trying to “cash in” on the current Covid-19 outbreak by submitting works based on current events, causing some agents to denounce them and refuse to look at them. I agree that this is wholly inappropriate and definitely not something that I think many people would want to read at this time. Taking this into consideration, I can totally understand why publishers Fahrenheit Press were in two minds whether to go ahead with the release of King of the Crows. It is after all a novel about a pandemic that hits Europe and the UK and the resulting impact this has on the global economic and political infrastructure, not to mention the social and health implications for the public.  

However, Russell Day wrote and developed King of the Crows back in 2016 which in itself is scarily prescient and uncanny; add to this he is currently working on the frontline in the NHS helping to fight Covid-19.  Whilst the timing may seem unfortunate, this is not a novel based on actual events as they currently stand, albeit there are some unnerving parallels that could be interpreted as such, like an inept U.S President and a UK Government that seemingly favours power and patting themselves on the back over helping the struggling majority in a time of crisis. To that extent, it does reflect a somewhat damning indictment of the world we are currently living in. But I agree that Fahrenheit Press made the right decision to release it, after delaying it for some time. Whilst comparisons could be made, King of the Crows is an utterly absorbing and addictive read, and outrageously funny in parts as well. To that end, I think it’s exactly the right time to lose yourself within its pages.

King of the Crows reads like a masterclass in creative writing, in that Russell presents the story using a range of assorted styles and perspectives across an eight-year timespan yet still manages to maintain a tight storyline filled with chilling imagery, darkly black humour and scarily accurate portrayals of modern society in the grip of madness. Incorporating passages from main character Colin Robertson’s memoir; pages from the big budget Hollywood screenplay of his life (hilariously highlighting the skewed “artistic licence” for portraying accuracy that such films have); internet forum chatrooms; chapters from academic research and papers, as well as army records, a police procedural investigation, interviews, eye witness accounts and the third person perspective of the main story narrative itself, King of the Crows is a huge literary jigsaw puzzle with every piece slotting together to form a stylish and compelling novel of chaos and corruption. Oh……and zombies!

Yes, zombies for want of another word. Although these guys aren’t the lumbering, flesh eating, walking dead we’ve all come to know and love throughout the movies. If the virus doesn’t kill its victims, it continues to cause brain lesions resulting in their increasingly psychotic behaviour, leading to random acts of violence and a developing horde mentality that Robertson and his “band of merry men” must contend with, whilst plotting the mother of all heists against the backdrop of a ruined London financial sector. Yes, despite the apparent apocalyptic demise of Europe as we know it, the lure of being rich is still enough to risk life and limb it seems.

The tagline for King of the Crows is “Ocean’s Eleven meets 28 Days Later” and that’s a pretty fair summary. But for me, add elements of The Dirty Dozen, World War Z, The Walking Dead and even The Italian Job and The Long Good Friday into the mix and this gives you an idea of what awaits you within the pages of this glorious novel. It’s a superb mix of action, horror, social commentary and pure escapism, albeit terrifyingly realised against the world as we currently know it.
This review appears with the kind permission of The Barking Book Blog where it first appeared on 26th April 2020 - you can visit their site and read more of their awesome reviews here.
You can pre-order KING OF THE CROWS direct from Fahrenheit Press here.

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