Cluck: Murder Most Fowl – Eric D. Knapp

Cluck: Murder Most Fowl
Eric D. Knapp
Self-published, 2007
338 pages

Okay, okay. “Zombie chickens” aren’t pagan. Not in the religious sense, anyway. But when I got offered a review copy of this novel, I had to bite.

Take one flock of zombiefied chickens, with an uber-rooster at the head. Throw in one inept wannabe farmer living in a haunted house. Top it off with an order (no pun intended) of secret zombie chicken hunters, with a particularly talented mortal off on a solo crusade to end the plague of undead fowl once and for all. Mix well with a good dose of off-the-wall humor, some camp, and enough talented description to give you a movie in your head, and you have the makings of one very fun read.

It started out a little questionably. While Knapp is a talented author and does a good job of describing what’s going on, the intentionally campy writing got to be a bit much to slog through, especially after the umpteenth time there was a description of a zombie chicken moving in such a way that a random body part fell off. Camp doesn’t really translate over to writing nearly as well as film, as far as I’m concerned, though Knapp made a really good effort of it. Additionally, the backstory took a while to build up to an interesting point, though for good reason–the story behind the story is actually somewhat complex, and made what could have been a relatively simple zombie chicken novel into a more solid read.

I urge prospective readers who find the beginning to be a bit tough to get into to hang in there; it all makes more sense the more deeply you get into the story. The second half of the book grabbed me much more firmly, and it was hard to put it down after that point. The writing, though still campy, had more going on plot-wise, so I was less distracted and more enthralled. While I think the ending (which I won’t spoil for you) came out of left field to an extent, it was satisfying, and left me with a good feeling about the entire adventure through zombie chicken land.

Overall, while it has a few flaws and could use a bit of tightening up in the first half, “Cluck” is definitely an amusing read. It’s particularly commendable as a self-published work, and is among the best self-pub works I’ve ever read, nonfiction or fiction. And, as I said, Knapp is very good with descriptions, and I had a clear mental picture of what was happening the entire time, even if it didn’t make sense at first. Pick this one up if you have a long plane flight, need something to read on the morning commute, or simply want something entertaining to read over a weekend. It has good re-read potential, too, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

Four pawprints full of undead feathers out of five.

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