Today, I’m excited to welcome you to my stop on the Titan Books tour for Birds of Paradise by Oliver K. Langmead. This is one of the wackiest books I’ve read in a long time, but it’s weird in all the best ways. It imagines a scenario where Adam (yes, that one from the Bible) is still alive and so are the first animals – though able to take human shape, and there are pieces of paradise still to be found on Earth… Think a cross between Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Jasper Fforde’s work. It’s out there, but it’s addictive.
Many thanks to Lydia Gittins and Titan Books for including me on the tour and sending me a copy for review. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 08/04/2021
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Many millennia after the fall of Eden, Adam, the first man in creation, still walks the Earth – exhausted by the endless death and destruction, he is a shadow of his former hope and glory. And he is not the only one. The Garden was deconstructed, its pieces scattered across the world and its inhabitants condemned to live out immortal lives, hiding in plain sight from generations of mankind.
But now pieces of the Garden are turning up on the Earth. After centuries of loneliness, Adam, haunted by the golden time at the beginning of Creation, is determined to save the pieces of his long lost home. With the help of Eden’s undying exiles, he must stop Eden becoming the plaything of mankind.
Adam journeys across America and the British Isles with Magpie, Owl, and other animals, gathering the scattered pieces of Paradise. As the country floods once more, Adam must risk it all to rescue his friends and his home – because rebuilding the Garden might be the key to rebuilding his life. (from Titan)
OPINIONS: This is such an addictive story. I could not put it down and read it in a single sitting. It’s weird and wacky and wonderful. I loved how it plays with theology, taking elements of the Bible and reworking them into something completely unique – Adam and some of the first animals tracking down pieces of Paradise on Earth to re-build their home. It is smart and fun, combining elements from fantasy, science fiction, heist-story and thriller (yes, I’d argue this is a book that counts for hard mode in the r/fantasy bingo!).
Adam, the first man, alive for a very, very long time, is a fantastic leading character. He is world-weary and tired, but keen to return to his roots and simply garden. He is not power hungry, and in his modesty almost super-human. It would have been easy for Langmead to take him and make him into a caricature, but the version that is published could not be further from that. He is utterly human, flawed and humble. I was a bit sad that Eve didn’t play a role in the story, though that is something that is solved well in the end. And Crow! She was probably my favourite of all the animals. Badass, matter of fact and charming.
All in all, while Birds of Paradise isn’t a perfect story, it is a compelling and well-written one, and one I highly recommend you take a look at it. Add Birds of Paradise to your Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).