||Dec 20, 2007
For the lover of comedy with a twist, Cluck: Murder Most Fowl is a veritable Indian burn of mystery, adventure, horror, and humor. Cluck is a multiple award winner, including the Odyssey Indie Excellence award, and an "IPPY" award for horror.
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IRREFUTABLE FACTS ABOUT CHICKENS:
1. Chickens are dirty.
2. Chickens are loud.
3. Chickens are stupid.
When ancient and mysterious forces trap the souls of an entire flock of barnyard fowl between life and death, Bobby Garfundephelt has to agree. Trapped inside the myriad rooms of a labyrinthian farm, it's all he can do to avoid the twisted traps of the evil Rooster and his army of undead hens. Luckily for Bobby, the rumors of the ghostly guineas have reached the ears of the current Exorciste de Volaille. Armed only with a fox-headed staff, some heavy boots, and a utility belt full of cracked corn and Band-Aids, he must enter the henhouse of horrors to save Bobby, and to do battle with the Rooster himself!
He scrambled up a narrow set of stairs, and came to a sudden stop. His upper body snapped forward and there was a terrible CRACK! as his leg fell through a false step.
His mind flashed in panic. He knew about haunted houses, of course. Everybody did. The false step was an old standby—like the pivoting fireplace and the torture chamber and the spiky pit. The spiky pit, he also knew, was just below the false stair. He closed his eyes and winced as a sharp pain shot up through his boot. His shin hit the edge of the next highest step with a second only slightly softer crack as his forward momentum was halted by the impact of bone against wood. He knew there would be a spiky pit, but that foresight did little to dull the rush of pain. He pulled his right leg out of the pit with his hands, and watched the blood well out of the tiny holes in the soles of his well-worn farmers’ boots. All haunted houses had spiky pits and false steps, he knew that. He had to pay attention. He had to stop panicking.
It’s lucky for him, he thought, that chickens thought small. If they had any sense of scale at all, he’d have been killed for certain. As things were, the false step only dropped down about a foot or so, and the spikes were little more than ten-penny nails. Favoring his uninjured foot, he hopped to the next good step and continued on his way. He needed clear thinking. Panic had a way of creeping back in, but he stemmed it off. The pain helped.
Until he heard it.
A rooster. Crowing. It came from up above—on the roof, probably. Damn! He was going the wrong way! He did not want to be going towards the rooster. He turned and ran down a long, bare, wainscoted hallway. It was dark, and Bobby barely noticed as he crashed through a small pile of skulls that littered the corridor. He was oblivious to the swoosh as something tiny shot past his left leg. The rooster, he knew, was the worst of the flock. Again, flashes of the past filled Bobby’s mind. He fell to his knees as a montage of pain and anguish flooded his memories. The rooster, a monstrous black beast that blotted out all light and hope. Those beady, calculating eyes. The spread of its enormous wings. The distinct smell of creosote. The terrible sound that it made as it split the air with its thundering crow. The rooster stood taller than the rest of the haunted flock. He was more imposing, more intelligent, and much more dangerous. Even if the rooster stood alone, he would be a terrible threat. If he got too close to the rooster, Bobby knew, he’d be in real trouble. It could reach higher than the others, maybe even high enough to reach Bobby’s face and eyes. His beak was sharper, and stronger, but the rooster had never attacked Bobby directly. He was the general of the undead poultry army, and was always in the background, commanding them, bringing strength to his feathered militia and bringing terror to his enemies.
Front Street Reviews
The author is able to take an idea that is absurd and ridiculous and create a very well done, full bodied piece of literature. It would have been easy to let the book rest on its innovative plot but it is much more than just horror.
Literature? With zombie roosters? Impossible! Not when as well written as Cluck has been. The creativity is also in the setting- the finely detailed places are as much a part of the book as the plot. It is not a book one rushes through just to see the end result, its strength is in the author's way with words. It is that which makes this book a must read for all lovers of not only horror or humor but also those who appreciate a really good writer. The ending is wild, the plot does twist and turn and the action in the end is turbulent. It will satisfy those looking for a bit of gore and horror but is not too much for us wimps either. But it is getting to the ending that is as much of a treat as the final results.
But to be sure it is also not a book that can be walked away from easily. The pacing is brilliantly done with a rhythm that carries from beginning to end. It is not action filled, feathers do not fly nonstop throughout. The writing flows to trap the reader, the joy is getting caught up in the words, the sentences and, of course, the tongue in cheek humor.
Knapp likes to compare his writing to Terry Pratchett and it is an accurate one. They both seem to have a lot of fun with their craft- the reader feels they had as much fun coming up with the ideas as the reader has reading it. Some books seem like the author must have struggled to write each page, in Cluck one pictures the author at his computer, beer in one hand (or maybe a Kickin' Chicken Cocktail), typing a way and laughing his head off.
The sequel will be "Quack- Murder Most Waterfowl." I am looking forward to it!
Eric D. Knapp’s “Cluck: Murder Most Fowl” is one of the best books we’ve reviewed so far on Odyssey Reviews. This tongue-in-cheek (or beak) work of brilliance will surely make you laugh. The writing is on par with the likes of Terry Pratchett. The story is brilliant, the writing unbelievably good; and a nearly 100% spotless manuscript peppered with delightful egg-shaped illustrations by Ian Miller. The sheer professional sheen of the book itself, down to the artwork on the cover – is the standard all independent/self-published authors should strive for.
You will find yourself in a bizarre world of zombie chickens, Poultry Exorcists, hicks, an ancient secret organization of frauds, and a car with a bit of an attitude. There is a restless house, and something else, another force thrown into the mix just to keep it interesting.
Armand/Arnold, who is the first true “Exorciste de Volaille” in generations, discovers, after years of ridding the world of pesky undead fowl, that he’s possibly met his match. A convergence of mystical forces brings together a massive rooster who’s been to Hell and back, his flock of subordinate ghoulish chicken zombies; a mysterious, vengeful force; a fidgety house and a less-than-intelligent hick by the name of Bobby—and Arnold has just stepped into the filthy thick of it.
Rotten eggs, tomatoes and stumbling, rotting chickens… this bizarre world is waiting for you to discover it. I think it should be an obligation for all independent authors to add this book to their library as an example of a professional, self-published product.
This book has effortlessly earned its five medallions.
This book has inspired me to create a new award for books that raise the bar of excellence for independent works.
Cluck is extremely well-written and is story-telling at its best. Author Eric D. Knapp shows his skills by successfully blending the difficult combination of humor and horror without the whole thing unraveling into something stupid. This is not so easy to do as I’ve seen with other novelists attempting this type of thing; the humor tends to clash with the horror and the author tragically turns it into something really dumb. Not so with Knapp; he grabs you on page one and doesn’t let go until the last zombie-chicken is plucked.
However, be forewarned: sections of this novel get down-right spooky! I get the sense that Knapp, who studied English and writing at the University of New Hampshire and the University of London, could have easily written a successful main-stream horror novel without so much as breaking a sweat. The opening scene of Cluck so vividly describes the creepy mouth of hell that I literally had goose-bumps forming on my arms.
Luckily for me, Knapp also crafts several scenes throughout the book which are absolutely hilarious. In particular, I enjoyed the exchanges between the book’s hero, Armand, and “The Charge,” a friendly but wise-cracking supernatural entity inhabiting his body. I defy you to suppress the laughter when these two (sharing the same body) disagree.
In the book’s final battle, Armand must face a very powerful Dead Rooster (yes!), “The largest rooster, living or dead, ever known to walk the face of the planet.”
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Reader Reviews for "Cluck: Murder Most Fowl"
|Reviewed by Todd Fonseca
|Somewhere outside of Detriot Michigan, a spectral cosmic light lasting only moments, intersects the souls of a young suburban boy named Arnold and a fabulously large Rooster. Afterward, Arnold is imbued with a second sight allowing him to see the souls of those around him, including animals - especially chickens. Seeing souls gives Arnold a slight glimpse into the future as the souls actions occur just before those of their corporeal hosts. Though an advantage in sports where Arnold can anticipate his opponents every move, it also sets him apart from the rest of humanity causing his eventual banishment by his parents to a home for boys. Recognized by Father Beau as gifted in second site, Arnold is sent to France where he joins a secret order of those men charged with banishing the souls of trapped fowl to the next life. However, though the order exists, none have the site of Arnold who quickly demonstrates his. He eventually becomes Armand - the Exorciste de Volaille - the poultry exorcist!
Meanwhile, across the world, the Rooster has also been forever changed by the light. Capable of thought and even speech, the Rooster becomes king of an ever expanding farm owned an operated by Bobby Garfundephelt and his wife. However, all is not well on the farm and without giving too much of the plot away, evil takes root on the farm and Bobby is forever haunted by the undead chickens and their Rooster king. Only Armand, now aged and scared with the wounds from setting straight the worlds "fowl" wrongs, can save Bobby. Or can he?...
Eric Knapp's Cluck: Murder Most Fowl is a masterpiece. I honestly did not believe I would like this book as much as I did. Reminiscent of the Rod Serling's Twilight Zone or even the best of what Tales from the Crypt had to offer, Knapp creates a intriguing and engaging tale of three lives intertwined and changed forever. This is an incredibly creative piece of fiction that in lesser hands would have come across at best campy and at worst just plain stupid. Rather, Knapp has pulled off an amazingly entertaining novel. The graphics by Ian Richard Miller at the onset of each chapter are perfect and are displayed in the oval shape of an egg. Completing the professional and all encompassing feel for the story is the unique font titling each chapter.
I don't give out 5 stars easily and never expected to do so when I started this book. But truthfully, this is one of the most creative, different, offbeat funny, and intriguing books I've read this year. It is definitely not mainstream and one might have to be in the right mood to appreciate it's brilliance, but I believe few would be disappointed in reading Cluck (I can't believe I'm actually typing this). Good luck Mr. Knapp and congratulations on an extremely well written tale.
Eric D. Knapp