Book Review: The Worms of Heaven by Misha Burnett

A while back, March 15, 2014, to be precise, I posted book reviews for Misha Burnett’s first two books in the “Book of Lost Doors” series, Book One: “Catskinner’s Book” and Book Two: “Cannibal Hearts”. You can read those here if you like:

I recently had the honor of reading an ARC of Book Three, “The Worms of Heaven”. This is more a series review than a book review. I don’t usually post the book descriptions with my reviews because you can read those on Amazon, but I will for this book review to give you an idea of where this book: “The Worms of Heaven” is coming from. This review is a lot longer than my typical review. You will see a much shorter version on Amazon:

Book description: “Catskinner’s Book”:

Catskinner’s Book is a science fiction/urban fantasy novel set in a surreal world unlike any that you have seen before.

James Ozryck has a monster in his head.

All of his life the entity that he calls Catskinner has made him a fugitive, afraid to get too close to anyone, afraid to stay in one place for too long. Catskinner kills, without compassion and without warning, and is very good at it.

Now James has learned that Catskinner is not the only monster in the world, a world that has suddenly become a far stranger and more dangerous place than he imagined. In order to survive he will have to become something more than a monster, he will have to learn what it means to be human.

 Book description: “Cannibal Hearts”:

A year ago James Ozryck was a loner, forced to keep the world at bay by the alien entity he calls Catskinner who shares his body. Now he has found a community of others whose lives have been changed by the Outsiders.

Along with Godiva, his half-human lover, James runs a property management company that serves as a front company for Outsider activities.

When the pair’s mysterious boss, Agony Delapour suddenly shows up in town with a new project, however, things get dangerous fast as events unfold that threaten the life that they have made.

Book Review: “The Worms of Heaven”: 

I have mentioned in previous reviews in this series that Misha Burnett’s works are genius. His Catskinner character enmeshed with James Ozryck in both physical and psychological form; yet, really quite separate, is in and of itself remarkable. I fell in love with the singular duality of the character in Book One. Burnett worked wonders to give this (these) character (s) unique voice and personality.

Book Three brings Catskinner back in full force and has James and Catskinner interacting with the entire crew of Outsider affected characters in ways that are sure to keep you turning the pages. Agony Delapour has been kidnapped. Havoc has been wrecked on the Blue Metal Boy camp. Catskinner, the Butcher, has vowed death in revenge, facing his most formidable opponent yet, the Orchid.

Burnett’s ability to draw and create a colorful cast of characters was well illustrated in Books One and Two. Book Three takes that ability even deeper. There are humans, yes, but there are also Orthovores, a hive of Thomases, Ambimorphs, Pale Surgeons, Minraudim, Necroidim, and Blue Metal Boys, with depth; motivations, actions, and consequence, and these partial humans or undead have their own unique cultures.

Though most entertaining, this book moved me emotionally in ways that I really was not expecting. Existing within our culture, these Outsider affected “alien” beings have feelings and emotions (or lack of them), lifestyles and practices, if different from our own personal human experience, that are part of who they are in their society…like the cultural differences we find in our real world wide society. There are significant parallels here that cannot be ignored. Burnett has brought these beings together in stories that demonstrate the meaning of community without prejudice. The concepts of honor, love, loyalty, devotion and dedication are proven to be as “alien” as they are human.

So what does this mean for a fiction read? Some of it is grotesquely creepy, and some of it is profoundly beautiful. All of it is a bit weird, but weird is good. It’s supposed to be strange. It teaches us things about others and ourselves. I’m not talking about tolerance and acceptance. Those prejudicial concepts actually appall me. I’m speaking of the manner in which Misha Burnett has written non-judgmentally integrating worlds within worlds. There is much insight found in the methods of Burnett’s brilliance.

In conclusion, “The Book of Lost Doors” series has characters that have the ability to make decisions and affect the story. The characters have agency and push the plots more than the plots push them. They are much more than plot puppets. While the plots are fascinating and exciting, the books are also very much character driven, and that is where Burnett excels.

If you like urban fantasy or sci-fi, or anything in the paranormal realm, and have not started this excellent series, I highly recommend that you do.

5 of 5 Stars

You can follow Misha Burnett on his blog here, where he engages readers in interesting and insightful topics.

“The Worms of Heaven” available soon.

Book Reviews: Catskinner’s Book and Cannibal Hearts by Misha Burnett

These are Volume One and Volume Two of The Book of Lost Doors sci-fi/urban fantasy series.

Volume One: Catskinner’s Book

5 Stars

I absolutely loved this story! The relationship of the main character(s), James and Catskinner, was psychologically fascinating as these two personalities were profoundly interesting. I could hear the distinctive voices of each in my head. The dialogue between them was well done, and contributed to the plot development.

The plot moved at a steady, quick pace with one intriguing adventure after another. As soon as you recovered from one incident another was put before you. The mechanics and descriptiveness of scenario was both plausible and fantastic.

Two things I thoroughly enjoyed about this book: 1) the accessibility of the writing style, and 2) the genius creativity and imagination expressed through the author’s imagery. I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a psychologically dynamic sci-fi/fantasy story.

Volume Two: Cannibal Hearts

4 stars

Of course, after being so very delighted with Burnett’s Catskinner’s Book, I had to read this one right away. I was initially mildly disappointed that Catskinner’s role seemed to take a back seat to James’, though I still found the story line most intriguing. It seemed that James, as narrator, ruminated more in this book. There was less of the dialogue between him and Catskinner and less of the quick paced action that I had enjoyed so much in the previous book.

As the story progressed, again, Burnett’s creative genius showed through and I found myself deeply involved and invested in discovery. Alien actually became comfortable. The unusual and colorful cast of characters was so well drawn that I feel as if I have a whole new set of friends, and enemies, in this book–even the weirdest. Be advised, I like weird. I will also add here, I loved the profound, original, and thought provoking quotes the author included under each chapter heading. I am eagerly anticipating the third in the series.

You can purchase these books here: Catskinner’s Book and Cannibal Hearts 

You can get to know Misha Burnett and learn more about his upcoming book, “The Worms of Heaven” here on his blog.

As a side note, 

I’m going to qualify regarding my science fiction reading. I cut my teeth on science fiction. Back in the seventies, as a young teen, my Grandma’s neighbor was a young man by the name of Michael Bishop. I spent some boring summer days in my Grandma’s small town, Pine Mountain, Georgia. The boredom was relieved by my visits to Mr. Bishop’s library.

Mr. Bishop was, still is, a science fiction writer and author of many books, including one (correction: three) for which he received the Nebula Award. He was also nominated for the Hugo Award. I did not read his works, because he had not yet published them, but he had inherited an enormous library from his father-in-law and it filled the turreted two-story library of his home. Many days I heard him clacking away at the typewriter through an open window in his library.

I would stop in to annoy visit with Mr. Bishop from time to time and was most impressed by both the library and his devotion to writing. Michael would loan me books from his library and send me away.

The books he loaned me were titles by authors such as Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin, and others. I loved being able to escape to fantastical other worlds. Asimov, with his background in biochemistry, and Le Guin, with her mix of fantasy and sci-fi kept me entertained for hours on end. I truly loved the sort of sci-fi they wrote. Mr. Bishop, who was also my Sunday school teacher upon a time, and I would review the books when I brought them back.

Then, in a young girl’s life, many years later, around the mid-eighties, something happened to the sci-fi that I ran across. It got so complex and outer-space oriented that you needed an astrophysics degree or an alien translator to follow plots or decipher difficult sentences and name structures. Names lost their vowels, and plots became so implausible that I lost interest totally in the genre. I began to read more straight up fantasy…witches and vampires, magic that professed to be magic, immortals, and such.

I never went back to sci-fi, and I said all of that to say this: Thank you, Misha Burnett, for bringing me back to earth with these fascinating and intriguing mixed genre sci-fi/fantasy tales!