Review of Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird by Jesse James Freeman

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Classifying Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird into a genre is like putting its main character, Billy Purgatory into a clean-cut character profile; not only can it not be done, but it shouldn’t. I could easily say that with the zombies, mythological creatures, the conflicts between the supernatural and humans, a hero with an unconventional upbringing with some romantic tension throughout the book that it could be considered urban fantasy. However, it’s not in the first person, as many urban fantasies are, and it takes place in the back woods, New York, Vietnam and beyond so people could argue its placement in that genre.

What Billy Purgatory is is too big to be categorized into the confines of just one genre. Simply put, its a story about a ten year old skateboarder who could care less about the world around him. However, when he’s faced with vampires and a monster he nicknamed the Time Zombie, Billy realizes that there is more out there that he wants to care less about. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many times he turns his back to it, he soon learns that the gods have bigger plans for him. Ok, so maybe not so simple.

Freeman is a natural story-teller. His characters are engaging, the story is complex but attainable and other than a slight slip in the middle the pacing of the story is spot on. Freeman weaves in the complexity of mythological gods and creatures into the simplicity of a ten year old boy who just wants to skateboard all day long. It’s very hard to hate Billy Purgatory; to see the world through his reckless eyes is refreshing. I absolutely loved the interactions between him and his father, Ulysses, or Pop, to Billy. For me, Billy got all his best qualities from Pop, his impetuous nature and how he views the world, to his devil-may-care attitude.

The only hiccup in the story for me was the pacing during the middle of the book. Billy is an adventurous kid at the beginning of the novel and watching him make sense of the world around him was fun and exciting. I felt it lost some of the flow and excitement when Billy grew up. I know what its like to look at a messed up world as an adult, it’s not fun. However, the story picked back up when Billy went back to his childhood home and decided to search for his mother. The ending was fast-paced and, to steal the author’s signature word, badass. I wish I could go into detail about the birth scene involving Emelia but I’d give too much away. So I’ll just say that when I grow up, I want to be the Sword Witch.

Freeman continued to impress me with his funny and often times insightful exposition. There were many times when I found myself stopping so I could read a section out loud to my husband. This was a story I felt the need to share, and to me that is one of the best compliments I can give.


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About the Author

Jesse James Freeman

Billy Purgatory is Jesse James Freeman’s first novel. He’s also studied psychology and film and scripted comics. When he’s not writing books, Jesse James trains falcons to kill Leprechaun Robots, and will continue to do so until the world is relatively safe. You can find Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird at [amazon-product text=”Amazon” type=”text”]193596125X[/amazon-product]  and Barnes & Noble.


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