Welcome to my stop on the Birds of Paradise blog tour! Huge thanks to Titan Books for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
CW: brutal violence
It’s been many a millennia since Adam found himself in the warm embrace of the sanctuary that was Eden. Alone and exhausted in a world consumed by death and destruction, the first man in creation is struggling to find a reason to keep going and he isn’t the only ex-inhabitant of Eden to feel this way. However, this begins to change when pieces from the Garden are turning up all over the world. Desperate to get that feeling of sanctuary back, Adam joins up with others he hasn’t seen in years, determined to save the remains of the Garden from the destructive hands of mortal men.
Going into this novel I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, I certainly wasn’t expecting the depiction of Adam that Langmead presented and I absolutely loved it. I loved how different this Adam in the 21st Century, who was born before Death, from the image we typically know. This version of Adam is both brutal and thoughtful; seemingly lost in the world around him and in his own mind. Langmead gradually revealed more and more about Adam, although it feels like we know just how brutal he can be at the beginning of the novel we don’t quite know how he has reached the point he has. Whilst the novel primarily takes place in the present day, we do get regular, brief, flashbacks to life in Eden or his past after Eden which were nice touches and did a great job in trying to fill in some of the gaps.
Alongside Adam, we also meet a whole cast of characters that were with Adam and Eve in Eden. Most of which are birds who have taken human forms, such as Rook, Magpie, Crow and Owl. I really enjoyed these characters and how they fit into this narrative. I especially enjoyed the idea that there were more than just Adam and Eve that was expelled from Eden and then had to find their way in the world. They were all so eccentric and yet they all complemented each other, and the world, brilliantly. Whilst, surprisingly, Eve isn’t a main character in the novel she does feature a lot in Adam’s thoughts so she didn’t really feel absent which was great. I also liked the fact that Snake also makes a short appearance too in a way that seemed very fitting for him in the present day.
On the surface, Birds of Paradise is about Adam, and others from Eden, doing what they can to reclaim and rebuild the place that was once their sanctuary. The place that has felt more like home than anywhere else since. However, the more we read and learn about these characters and this world, the more it becomes apparent that this is also a clever commentary regarding man’s superiority complex and need to be God. The addition of the Sinclair’s gave the entire story an extra depth that was needed and was a stark contrast to those from Eden. The Sinclair’s felt like classic villains who would put you on edge and, as a reader, I was desperately hoping that the brutality we saw in Adam at the beginning of the novel would come back to put them in their place. As violent as that may sound.
Although this book isn’t particularly long, so much seems to happen in it due to the fast pacing of the novel which I found to be completely absorbing and immersive. I was drawn in from the very first chapter that was a particularly gruesome introduction to the story as well as to Adam and Eve. Whilst I, personally, would have liked a slightly longer novel to see more of this world and these characters; it was still made a lot of sense to keep the novel to the length that it was, as a reminder that these characters have been living for centuries so this situation and time they’re in is just tiny in comparison to the lives they have lived.
Overall, this was an electric new novel from Langmead and one that will definitely alter your perception on Adam and Eve, as well as the story of Eden. I highly recommend you check out this unique novel, just make sure you clear your afternoon before you do as once you pick it up you will struggle to put it down.