In Burning Down Paradise, Eric Kapitan brings us something pretty unique. The text is delivered entirely as a poem, and this was not a style I’d come across before. Before reading further, put away any preconceptions you have about poetry, because this is not what you might expect.
This story about evil, begins with the beginning of evil – with Lucifer cast out of heaven. There is a truce between Heaven and Hell, but the world of humans is fair game. We then follow the life, death, and beyond, of a wretched man named Timothy. He was born out of the worst possible circumstances and full of vengeance. His only pleasure comes from inflicting pain and killing, haunted by visions of his ideal victim. He is a serial killer, so as you would expect, there is plenty of brutal gore and sadism inflicted on his part. It will certainly make you wince. This story goes well beyond the confines of a traditional serial killer story. Again, the reader’s expectations are challenged and we’re given something different.
While the story and the concept are interesting, the strength comes from the language and the imagery created. The story is told concisely; what could have taken another author 20 pages to describe, is reduced in size (to a stanza) but not in effectiveness. The plot, the emotions evoked, and the gore are succinctly explored. It’s a tale that goes beyond the confines of our world and becomes something altogether grander. I really enjoyed this book, and despite being short, it delivers a great deal, and left me thinking about what I’d read. I’ve actually read it a few times as it does invite revisiting so as to be swept up in the dark world that the author has created for us.
Reviewed by Andrew Tadman @thebooksofblood.