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A Choir of Ill Children

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An alternative cover for this ISBN can be found here This lyrical tale of evil, loss, and redemption is a stunning addition to the Southern gothic tradition of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews. A Choir of Ill Children is the startling story of Kingdom Come, a decaying, swamp backwater that draws the lost, ill-fated, and damned. Since his mother’s disappearance and his fathe An alternative cover for this ISBN can be found here This lyrical tale of evil, loss, and redemption is a stunning addition to the Southern gothic tradition of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews. A Choir of Ill Children is the startling story of Kingdom Come, a decaying, swamp backwater that draws the lost, ill-fated, and damned. Since his mother’s disappearance and his father’s suicide, Thomas has cared for his three brothers—conjoined triplets with separate bodies but one shared brain—and the town’s only industry, the Mill. Because of his family’s prominence, Thomas is feared and respected by the superstitious swamp folk. Granny witches cast hexes while Thomas’s childhood sweetheart drifts through his life like a vengeful ghost and his best friend, a reverend suffering from the power of tongues, is overcome with this curse as he tries to warn of impending menace. All Thomas learns is that “the carnival is coming.” Torn by responsibility and rage, Thomas must face his tormented past as well as the mysterious forces surging toward the town he loves and despises.


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An alternative cover for this ISBN can be found here This lyrical tale of evil, loss, and redemption is a stunning addition to the Southern gothic tradition of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews. A Choir of Ill Children is the startling story of Kingdom Come, a decaying, swamp backwater that draws the lost, ill-fated, and damned. Since his mother’s disappearance and his fathe An alternative cover for this ISBN can be found here This lyrical tale of evil, loss, and redemption is a stunning addition to the Southern gothic tradition of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews. A Choir of Ill Children is the startling story of Kingdom Come, a decaying, swamp backwater that draws the lost, ill-fated, and damned. Since his mother’s disappearance and his father’s suicide, Thomas has cared for his three brothers—conjoined triplets with separate bodies but one shared brain—and the town’s only industry, the Mill. Because of his family’s prominence, Thomas is feared and respected by the superstitious swamp folk. Granny witches cast hexes while Thomas’s childhood sweetheart drifts through his life like a vengeful ghost and his best friend, a reverend suffering from the power of tongues, is overcome with this curse as he tries to warn of impending menace. All Thomas learns is that “the carnival is coming.” Torn by responsibility and rage, Thomas must face his tormented past as well as the mysterious forces surging toward the town he loves and despises.

30 review for A Choir of Ill Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    karen

    **review amended to include deborah's thoughts, because even though we gave it the same amount of stars, i did not do a good enough job reviewing. "...listen to me - things are different down here. This is the deep South. There are laws that don't apply." "You're an ugly, disgusting people." "No worse than most I'd guess." krok zero hated this book. and i understand his problems with it - when something is compared to faulkner and flannery o'connor, you have certain expectations as a reader, and wh **review amended to include deborah's thoughts, because even though we gave it the same amount of stars, i did not do a good enough job reviewing. "...listen to me - things are different down here. This is the deep South. There are laws that don't apply." "You're an ugly, disgusting people." "No worse than most I'd guess." krok zero hated this book. and i understand his problems with it - when something is compared to faulkner and flannery o'connor, you have certain expectations as a reader, and while this book definitely borrows the tone of those southern masters, there is something out of control in its narrative that doesn't reach the heights of its own blurbs. and i am giving it a four-star rating, even though i am feeling a high-three. i have read too many three-star books lately, and this one, while frustrating in places, was way better than the others. my star-ratings are always extremely subjective, which is pretty much why i review, so i can work out my feelings. here are some of my feeeelings: this book is like a diorama of southern bizarro: conjoined mystical triplets, underage sex grenades (an expression i totally just stole from dan simmons), murder, suicide, pregnant nuns, speaking in tongues, folklore, witch-healers, alligators, white trash catfights, amputations for the good of all, a mysterious carnival, and a main character who lives in this liminal space between reality and ghostly apparitions. and it's a hoot, but sometimes it gets to be a bit much. it is a tiny book, but it is somehow a slow read, because there is a lot of re-reading necessary. the story is tricksy, and there is never one of those handy "you are here" signs. it reminded me so much of, The Obscene Bird of Night which is a supremely grotesque and convoluted book. greg and maureen have great reviews of it - i read it pre-goodreads, and i do not have the balls to review it now, but if you want to read something completely mind-blowing and possibly vomit-inducing, and which is probably going to confuse the shit out of you, that book would be a good place to start. so having loved obscene bird, and having loved another book by piccirilli, The Last Kind Words, i think i was predisposed to like this one more than krok zero (joel, collect your dollar, even though i think your prediction may have been an insult to me?). it definitely is not a perfectly-constructed novel; characters come into and out of play, drifting through the scenes just to perform acts of strangeness or discomfort for the benefit of the reader, and there is never really a sense of where the story wants to be going. the reveal of the mystery is a mystery we never knew we were supposed to be looking for, although it almost accidentally solves the riddle of "who is kicking all these dogs??" and the last quarter of this book is a pretty out-of-nowhere bloodbath. and yet... i liked it a lot more in thinking over having read it then while i was actually reading it, because now i can see the full scope of it. but i still don't know what it is. it is a noir-magical-realism-ghost-crime story, i guess. but i still don't know what the story is, other than a dark slice-of-life story in which horrible things happen. and i think i will want to re-read it sometime, now that i know where it is going to end up, because i think there were probably a lot of scattered clues throughout that i would appreciate a second time through. spooky month continues... ** but all of that is incorrect!! here is the real review, from deborah: I thought it was a beautiful and moody read. I think it failed to be truly scary, but it was ugly enough to be interesting. Dreamy and strange. my work here is done. come to my blog!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    In the town of Kingdom Come, Thomas cares for his brothers, conjoined triplets, and for the mill, the town's only source of income. Who's kicking all the dogs? What happened to Thomas' family? A Choir of Ill Children is a modern Southern Gothic tale, a slice in Thomas' bizarre life. To be honest, I'm not precisely sure what this was supposed to be. It reads like a collaboration between Flannery O'Connor and Donald Ray Pollock. There is a bleakness to the tale and a lot of strange shit happens. S In the town of Kingdom Come, Thomas cares for his brothers, conjoined triplets, and for the mill, the town's only source of income. Who's kicking all the dogs? What happened to Thomas' family? A Choir of Ill Children is a modern Southern Gothic tale, a slice in Thomas' bizarre life. To be honest, I'm not precisely sure what this was supposed to be. It reads like a collaboration between Flannery O'Connor and Donald Ray Pollock. There is a bleakness to the tale and a lot of strange shit happens. Some parts feel quite dreamlike and I'm not sure which ones actually happened. I'm not even sure how to describe the plot. Thomas wanders from one encounter to the next and very little ever gets resolved. However, the encounters themselves are well-written and captivating. Someone's kicking all the dogs. There is lots of sex and violence, and mystery mute woman who is either eleven years old or twenty. There are witches, a preacher that speaks in tongues, and the Holy Order of the Flying Wallendas. And much more. Some things are best experiences for yourself. As I said before, I thought the writing was great and Piccirilli's depictions of the grotesque are very well done. There are some scenes that will stick with me for a long time. Hell, I enjoyed the shit out of it despite being lost in the swamp a few times as to what was actually happening. Overall, I liked this book and I'll be tracking down more of Tom Piccirilli's work. I enjoyed it even if I'm not sure what the hell actually happened. Three out of five stars.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    Well, there's plenty of weird stuff here. Conjoined triplets, a conjure woman's daughter traded into being their concubine, a naked minister, an oversexed, lusty librarian and a college student who wants to use them all in a porno film. Yeah. This is not your typical book club selection, though I'd love to see the old gals discussing this one over their wine and cheesecake. Like a visit to the carnival freak show or one of those TV documentaries about obese infants and 300-pound tumors, the whole Well, there's plenty of weird stuff here. Conjoined triplets, a conjure woman's daughter traded into being their concubine, a naked minister, an oversexed, lusty librarian and a college student who wants to use them all in a porno film. Yeah. This is not your typical book club selection, though I'd love to see the old gals discussing this one over their wine and cheesecake. Like a visit to the carnival freak show or one of those TV documentaries about obese infants and 300-pound tumors, the whole shebang seems to exist more to SHOCK than anything else. But, Piccirilli sure does turn a pretty phrase now and again... . . . no tar paper shack that collects heat in the summer and pours it over you like scalding water. I liked that. And his referring to the horny librarian as having "molten loins." That's pretty evocative. And then there's this: They, like most men, are men of myth and mediocrity. They carry with them the fables of their commonplace grandfathers and the blood of warriors and drunks. Over the years they've had to scrape their broken fathers off the back porch and put cold compresses on their mothers' busted noses. They've awoken in unmopped kitchen corners beneath the scowls of wives who've been failed early by life. This is their heritage and legacy. This one is probably not for MOST people. It's punchy and mean, smelly and sweaty. There's not a single likeable character in the book, if that matters to you. There IS plenty of sex and violence and a bloodbath or two. Bad things happen to pretty much everybody. Children cry. Dogs get kicked. The dead speak in dreams, then dreams become real. BUT, if you're looking for something to shake you out of your complacency, your safe little reading zone, this might possibly do the trick. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    TK421

    I’m sure that your reading list is plenty long, but this book needs to be moved to the top of the pile. This book is not for the faint of heart, for it is quite challenging. Think William Faulkner mixed with Flannery O’Connor and you’ll get a pretty good picture at Piccirilli’s writing-style. The language of the novel is both horrifying and beautiful, and if you can keep from reading the same passages over and over, because of how he constructed and mixed seemingly disconnected words and images, I’m sure that your reading list is plenty long, but this book needs to be moved to the top of the pile. This book is not for the faint of heart, for it is quite challenging. Think William Faulkner mixed with Flannery O’Connor and you’ll get a pretty good picture at Piccirilli’s writing-style. The language of the novel is both horrifying and beautiful, and if you can keep from reading the same passages over and over, because of how he constructed and mixed seemingly disconnected words and images, I applaud you. Though only a bit over 200 pages, relish this novel in small doses, for it may be the best example of Southern Gothic literature today. Simply put: this novel will knock you down, help you back up, and knock you down again because it can. With all that being said, the novel is far from perfect. There are many what the fuck moments that are mated with the grotesque. Ultimately, this book evokes a feeling, an environmental response. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

  5. 5 out of 5

    Krok Zero

    Oy. So it's October, and that's when you're supposed to read horror fiction, right? And I always feel like I should be reading horror, should be unearthing the good stuff, because I like horror movies and in theory the genre appeals to me, but in practice I have never really come across a horror novel that has served my particular literary needs. Unless you count Shirley Jackson, which I guess I don't, because the only genre she belongs to is the genre of the fucking sublime. But I sometimes give Oy. So it's October, and that's when you're supposed to read horror fiction, right? And I always feel like I should be reading horror, should be unearthing the good stuff, because I like horror movies and in theory the genre appeals to me, but in practice I have never really come across a horror novel that has served my particular literary needs. Unless you count Shirley Jackson, which I guess I don't, because the only genre she belongs to is the genre of the fucking sublime. But I sometimes give it a go this time of year. My 2011 attempt began with the '70s voodoo-curse thingy All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By (which my fingers almost just typed as All Hands on the Bad One, a Sleater-Kinney album that would be a better use of your time than reading that John Farris book). It wasn't really actively bad, just pretty dumb and unsatisfying, so I didn't/don't have much to say about it. Undeterred, I moved on to what turned out to be a much worse piece of shit, namely this book. 0 for 2. "Piece of shit" is unfair, I guess. It's fairly ambitious, certainly not hackwork, but it is a spectacular failure. I was intrigued by the Southern Gothic comparisons, the weird title, the conjoined-twins hook, even the text of the first page. But Piccirilli simply does not have the prose skill to support this kind of book, a plotless mood-piece about a bizarre backwater swamp town where everyone is various shades of fucked-up/violent/sex-crazed/insane/scarred/depraved/etc. There are a bunch of different plot threads involving the protagonist's affairs with different crazies, but there is absolutely no narrative engine to the book, no tension, no stakes — and the "mood" being cultivated is totally ersatz and transparent and ineffective, and Piccirilli just isn't capable of style at the level he reaches for, so there is really no reason to turn the pages at any time, no matter how much fucked up shit happens (ultimately not even that much; the creepy conjoined triplets with a single brain don't even do anything, they're just in the background for the first few chapters and then pretty much disappear). It's all just a pretentious mess, and certainly nothing remotely close to "scary" (though I'd have settled for "readable"). As for the publisher and reviewers who dropped Queen Flannery O'Connor's name in conjunction with this book, I hope they have trouble sleeping at night. Horror and I will one day have a blissful union, but it didn't happen this time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Chavez

    This book is definitely not for the faint of heart or one who shys away from horror. There are a lot of elements for a great book, but in my opinion the story doesn't really go anywhere, the first half was a trial, the second half got better but there was a lot left unresolved and it left me saying, "ugh..." and scratching my head. Maybe I should have started my Piccirilli journey with "The Night Class," or "The Dead Letters" as they were both Bram Stoker Award winners. =Begin my attempt at a plo This book is definitely not for the faint of heart or one who shys away from horror. There are a lot of elements for a great book, but in my opinion the story doesn't really go anywhere, the first half was a trial, the second half got better but there was a lot left unresolved and it left me saying, "ugh..." and scratching my head. Maybe I should have started my Piccirilli journey with "The Night Class," or "The Dead Letters" as they were both Bram Stoker Award winners. =Begin my attempt at a plot summary= "A Choir of Ill Children" is set in a small southern town called "Kingdom Come." It is a disgusting swamp backwater that seems to attract the worst of the worst form of life around. Violent bikers, nymphs, prostitutes, old granny witches, and drug addicts constitute the bulk of its charming population. With special characters such as conjoined psychic triplets, hipster documentarians, a geek (not the type of geek your thinking), and the Holy Order of the Flying Wallendas. The novel's central character and narrator, Thomas, is one of the richest men in town due to an inheritance he earned when his parents passed on. He lives in a large mansion with his freakish 3 brothers, the conjoined psychic triplets I mentioned earlier, who have three bodies but share a single brain. One day with the arrival in town of a strange young mute girl who seems abandoned Thomas hires a private detective to uncover the mysteries behind her arrival AND the identity of an infamous dog kicker who is pissing off the locals and leaving behind some wicked shoe prints on said dogs. Along with the uncovering of those mysteries, Thomas discovers that there is way more going on in Kingdom Come and it's murky swamp then he had ever thought. =End my attempt at a plot summary= Trying to write a plot summary for this novel was rough and hurt my brain. Piccirilli is literally all over the map with this novel. There's little to no narrative or plot structure. Instead of focusing on creating a story, Piccirilli seems content in just throwing together hallucinatory scenes about the everyday lives of the town's populace and odd memories, or should I say nightmares, that his mother and father had. Even at a mere 225 pages, reading this felt like a chore. Piccirilli's writing style is one that I found very difficult to absorb, not to mention trying to keep up with all the characters. There's so many that I would often find myself forgetting where I'd first read of this character and Piccirilli never makes any attempt to refresh the reader's memory once a minor character who hasn't appeared for dozens pages suddenly makes an appearance. It took me almost half the book to nail down who was who, something that should never happen in a novel. It's too bad because Piccirilli really is a fantastic writer in the technical sense. His prose can be beautiful and poetic. I was impressed with the uniqueness of the town and of some of the characters he created in this book; Moreover, his ability to make us feel like a part of the southern swamp setting is impressive. But for a novel (especially horror) to be entertaining it needs more than creative writing, and it definitely needs a coherent plot, and in this I believe he fails miserably. I am baffled by all the praise thrown this novel's way, I don't understand it, but to each his/her own. Bottom line, the language is poetic, he paints some beautiful scenes and the characters are well-developed and very interesting/unique; however, the story doesn't seem to go anywhere and leaves something to be desired.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    I barely know what I've just read. This is Southern Gothic via Pasolini, James Lee Burke on acid. Family secrets, a vast mansion, witches, magicians, freaks, fanatics, a preacher, a private eye, love, sex, murder, kicked dogs, moonlight, moonshine, alligators...what is this phantasmagoria? Powerful, for sure, less plotty, less tethered yet more grounded in what the psychiatrists used to call id than anything in the genre. If it is of any genre.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Quentin Wallace

    This book was something. It was one of the weirdest books I've ever read, but at the same time it was very compelling and interesting. I don't know how to start here, but I'll try. At it's core this is a southern gothic novel. The main character has a brother, or brotherS rather. It's three brothers who share one brain. Then we have a witch that lives out in the bayou, who gives the MC her daughter as a gift. There's two documentary film makers who live with the MC with the idea of doing a movie This book was something. It was one of the weirdest books I've ever read, but at the same time it was very compelling and interesting. I don't know how to start here, but I'll try. At it's core this is a southern gothic novel. The main character has a brother, or brotherS rather. It's three brothers who share one brain. Then we have a witch that lives out in the bayou, who gives the MC her daughter as a gift. There's two documentary film makers who live with the MC with the idea of doing a movie about the brother. Then one of the film makers, the female, falls in love with one of the brothers (yes, one of the three conjoined brothers) and the brother falls in love with her as well. Then we have the story of the MC's mother and father, which I wont get into here because it's one of the major revelations of the book. There's a young girl found in the swamp, the sex starved marm who takes her in, and the private detective who ends up in a sexual relationship with both of them (at the same time.) There's also the nearby monastery, The Order of the Flying Wallendas. As I said earlier, I just don't know to review this book to do it justice, but I will say it's good. It's really just one weird twist after another. If you enjoy your horror on the unusual side, and would like to read a VERY original southern gothic novel, this one is definitely for you.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Evans Light

    All finished. Enjoyed it, but can't really recommend it to anyone except for those seeking a doctoral thesis on metaphors and similes. Quite a fine bit of writing, but horror? Not so much. I found the narrator to be oddly jovial in the midst of madness, nary a flicker of fear or dread to be found within these pages. Weird and somewhat disturbing imagery and circumstances, yes. Scary, no. It was a very mentally stimulating read, almost a bit too rich. Even though it was a short book, the thickness All finished. Enjoyed it, but can't really recommend it to anyone except for those seeking a doctoral thesis on metaphors and similes. Quite a fine bit of writing, but horror? Not so much. I found the narrator to be oddly jovial in the midst of madness, nary a flicker of fear or dread to be found within these pages. Weird and somewhat disturbing imagery and circumstances, yes. Scary, no. It was a very mentally stimulating read, almost a bit too rich. Even though it was a short book, the thickness of the brew was best enjoyed in small portions. I rate "the writing" four stars (Even though it was a bit too unrelentingly show-offy, we all enjoy a mind-blowing guitar solo, but after a while knock it off and play a few chords, you know?), but the story itself barely rated two stars, thus an average rating of three for the book overall. Interesting cast of characters, promising set-up, but ultimately all these intriguing things end up becoming little more than a static backdrop for an unending display of virtuosic wordsmithy that, while impressive, inevitably numbs one's senses. Tell me a story that gets my heart pounding, makes me feverishly turn the pages. The narrator of the story was just a bit too clever and blase for his own good, and a good story could have compensated for it, but it just wasn't there. Still, I remain in awe of Tom Piccirilli's command of the English language, and will likely return to his writings again at some point in the future, if only to boost my own IQ a few points from time to time. There were quite a few cryptic passages and recurring themes that probably were chock-full of symbolism and life-changing meaning, but to someone of my limited capacity for enlightment and penchant for cracking open a horror novel solely for the purpose of having a good time, these brain-teasers and conundrums struck me as "full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing." Clearly a lot of work and love went into this book, and it shows on every page.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Cook

    A Choir of Ill Children is one of the best, most unique crime novels that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. A story of corruption, perversity and despair set in the Deep South featuring psychic triplets, hipster documentarians drawn into the heart of darkness, hedge magic, bikers and the Holy Order of the Flying Wallendas, this book never ceases to surprise. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    Bloody weird stuff goes on in Kingdom Come it seems. I have zero frame of reference for this bleak apparently Southern Gothic tale from Tom Piccirilli. Thomas is haunted by his past and his present, the skeletons in his family closet, with dreams like reality and reality like a dream, time flows at an unknown rate, people are drawn to our protagonist and then get forgotten about, their lives almost always spiralling out of control. It's been compared to the literature of O'Connor and Faulkner an Bloody weird stuff goes on in Kingdom Come it seems. I have zero frame of reference for this bleak apparently Southern Gothic tale from Tom Piccirilli. Thomas is haunted by his past and his present, the skeletons in his family closet, with dreams like reality and reality like a dream, time flows at an unknown rate, people are drawn to our protagonist and then get forgotten about, their lives almost always spiralling out of control. It's been compared to the literature of O'Connor and Faulkner and yet it's published in a disposable paperback seemingly reserved exclusively for your James Patterson copycat airport novelists. Almost immediately I knew I would love the book, and that I would know many other people who would have a grand old time visiting the denizens of Piccirilli's Kingdom Come.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Keith Deininger

    Strange and disturbing. Odd. Loved the emotionally detached narration. There's some really good writing here. Everyone defines horror differently; for me this is horror.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Tom Piccirilli has written this novel in nearly a poetic, lyrical style. The gothic setting of the Southern town of Kingdom Come is the perfect backdrop for this tale of madness, evil, conjure women, and secrets galore. If you're looking for an easy read, this is not the book for you. However, those that like a mental challenge while reading will probably appreciate this strange tale where age-old mysteries, and the fantastic collide. Recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    K.Z. Snow

    Gotta say, the author's an impressive prose stylist, but I'm already getting the brain jits reading this. There's "bizarre," and then there's "OMFGWTF!" . . . with spoiled cherries on top. I'm certainly intrigued enough to keep reading, though. Okay, still reading. Murder and mayhem within kudzu vines of prose. It's slow going. I have to keep stopping because this book makes me queasy. In addition, I have little idea what's going on. Or if anything's going on. This has been an odd reading experienc Gotta say, the author's an impressive prose stylist, but I'm already getting the brain jits reading this. There's "bizarre," and then there's "OMFGWTF!" . . . with spoiled cherries on top. I'm certainly intrigued enough to keep reading, though. Okay, still reading. Murder and mayhem within kudzu vines of prose. It's slow going. I have to keep stopping because this book makes me queasy. In addition, I have little idea what's going on. Or if anything's going on. This has been an odd reading experience for me. There was a time (probably when I was in my twenties) I would've relished this book. Now, as much as I admire the author's writing, I'm wussing out. Seriously, it's pretty distasteful. (? Damn, I just realized I sound like a literary masochist!) DONE. I did get into it . . . then fell out of it. The ending was regrettably lame.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paula Hartman-Carlo

    The language is poetic and the characters are well-developed but the story doesn't seem to go anywhere. I'll admit that I couldn't finish the book; I got about half-way through it and said to hell with it. It just meandered too much.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Squire

    This is the first novel-length work by Tom Piccirilli I've read, though I have read quite a few of his shorter works and some of his poetry. A Choir of Ill Children is a beautifully-written, disturbing and creepy gothic jambalaya of conjoined triplets sharing one brain, swamp whores and voodoo ritual that just misses the mark due to a narrator that is at the heart of this heady mash, but never seems too fearful of the madness and death that is descending upon his town. That lack of fearfulness ma This is the first novel-length work by Tom Piccirilli I've read, though I have read quite a few of his shorter works and some of his poetry. A Choir of Ill Children is a beautifully-written, disturbing and creepy gothic jambalaya of conjoined triplets sharing one brain, swamp whores and voodoo ritual that just misses the mark due to a narrator that is at the heart of this heady mash, but never seems too fearful of the madness and death that is descending upon his town. That lack of fearfulness makes the middle stretch of this book seem almost lifeless, but the book gets major points for a truly disturbing ending, that, even so, feels slightly anti-climatic. Looking back, I think some of his shorter works might suffer similarly if expanded into a novel. As it is I prefer his short fictions where his characters don't have as much time to wear down the story. Before that happens, the story is over and it's time for the next one. I haven't decided if there's to be another Piccirilli novel in my future or not.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Piccirilli is a good writer, but this was just a little too kitchen-sink Southern gothic for my taste. Everyone in Kingdom Come is a horribly damaged or deranged freak and nothing makes much sense. Definitely Flannery O'Connor mixed with Twin Peaks territory here, but perhaps what bothered me most was the ending....I honestly have no idea why anything in the final chapter came to pass, while I get the climax, what was the purpose? Perhaps it's just supposed to be experienced without looking too Piccirilli is a good writer, but this was just a little too kitchen-sink Southern gothic for my taste. Everyone in Kingdom Come is a horribly damaged or deranged freak and nothing makes much sense. Definitely Flannery O'Connor mixed with Twin Peaks territory here, but perhaps what bothered me most was the ending....I honestly have no idea why anything in the final chapter came to pass, while I get the climax, what was the purpose? Perhaps it's just supposed to be experienced without looking too deeply, or maybe I'm just not looking closely enough. This review makes it sound as If I disliked the book, which isn't really the case. It held my interest and had vivid, interesting characters, but I am, maybe puzzled by the whole thing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    Wow! This book is crazy! Beautifully written, powerful read with a heavy impact, but still a nice, short book. It starts out like a punch to the face and doesn't let up. Piccirilli writes in a lyrical, blunt style that doesn't go for shock value exactly, the narrator is just telling you about his life with no sugar-coating. He's not trying to garner sympathy or horrify you, this is just what happened as he sees it. It just is. To see if you'd like this book's style, read the first 4 or 5 pages o Wow! This book is crazy! Beautifully written, powerful read with a heavy impact, but still a nice, short book. It starts out like a punch to the face and doesn't let up. Piccirilli writes in a lyrical, blunt style that doesn't go for shock value exactly, the narrator is just telling you about his life with no sugar-coating. He's not trying to garner sympathy or horrify you, this is just what happened as he sees it. It just is. To see if you'd like this book's style, read the first 4 or 5 pages on Amazon first. This was my first book by Tom Piccirilli, but it definitely isn't going to be the last. I was very impressed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nate

    Haunting, beautiful, and horrific, I had no choice but to give this book 5 stars. This ranks up there with Suttree and The Long Home as a far out Southern tale steeped in a family's past. That is not to say this books is merely reminiscent of other Southern literature greats, as Tom Piccirilli brings his own voice in spades. With witchcraft, ghosts, and torments of the human variety, this book brought it all. Highly recommended to anyone with a strong stomach looking for a good time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marc-Antoine

    Like reading about someone's nightmare yet being left as unsettled as if it had been your own.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I like Southern gothic novels as much as the next person, but "A Choir of Ill Children" was too strange and disturbing to be enjoyable. And what was it supposed to be anyway? I'm not sure Southern Gothic fits. Paranormal might work but the thing with paranormal is that, in the end, it needs to make sense. This is the story of Thomas, the son of the only wealthy person in a small deep south town. Thomas's parents are dead, his grandmother was killed on the roof of a church with a reaping blade (ne I like Southern gothic novels as much as the next person, but "A Choir of Ill Children" was too strange and disturbing to be enjoyable. And what was it supposed to be anyway? I'm not sure Southern Gothic fits. Paranormal might work but the thing with paranormal is that, in the end, it needs to make sense. This is the story of Thomas, the son of the only wealthy person in a small deep south town. Thomas's parents are dead, his grandmother was killed on the roof of a church with a reaping blade (never solved) and he lives in a decaying mansion with his brothers: 3 Siamese triplets who share the same head. There's a religious sect nearby called the Flying Walendas. When they hold funerals, everyone trips out on acid. Half the time I didn't know what I was reading: Thomas's fevered dreams, his acid flashbacks or whatever passed for reality in this town. If it had made sense at the end, I would have given it 4 stars for originality, but Piccirilli wimped out and refused to explain what was really going on. Maggie, who's been portrayed as a ghost for 90% of the book, shows up after spending the last 15 years watching over Thomas's father who's been working as a carnival geek, and we get a happy ending. No explanation about who killed grandma, what happened to the Siamese triplets or why some swamp witch had to chop all her fingers off. It was just weird and not worth more than 2 stars.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Addy

    I would like to give it a 3.5, but I can't so I settled for a 3. If I had the time to dive into the deepness of this novel, I probably would have enjoyed it more. The writing itself was beautiful and flowed. However, I just don't and would have preferred a more entertaining novel. There were some unanswered questions. It seemed like that wasn't fair since I felt as though I was getting dragged through this book if only for an answer. It was confusing too. I would still give him another shot thou I would like to give it a 3.5, but I can't so I settled for a 3. If I had the time to dive into the deepness of this novel, I probably would have enjoyed it more. The writing itself was beautiful and flowed. However, I just don't and would have preferred a more entertaining novel. There were some unanswered questions. It seemed like that wasn't fair since I felt as though I was getting dragged through this book if only for an answer. It was confusing too. I would still give him another shot though. It was definitely weird enough to keep my interest.

  23. 4 out of 5

    William M.

    Never has a book by Tom Piccirilli come together more beautifully. His characters, his prose, and his story are captivating from beginning to end. Tom definitely deserves a Bram Stoker award for this, or at the very least, a nomination. I can't tell you how great a writer Tom is and I urge you to give A Choir Of Ill Children a try. Disturbing and beautiful at the same time, this novel pushes open the bountries of modern horror fiction and gives the genre more legitimacy than ever.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Skip

    Having read and really enjoyed several Tom Piccirilli novels, I looked to see what else others had liked. This one seemed to have the highest ratings, but I thought it was terrible. It was not just that conjoined triplets seem creepy, but the plot meandered dreadfully and the central character was inconsistent Then, TP tried using graphic sex scenes to resuscitate reader's interest. Don't let this novel put you off from trying his books -- just choose another one.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    This book reminded me of that 1960's film Spider Baby. It tells the bizarre story of a man who has seen a load of misery befall himself and his family. Secluded in a rural area, they were once a very prestigious family but have since suffered a great deal and have become isolated. A Choir of Ill Children was extraordinarily gloomy and different, and I really liked it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Latasha

    What was that?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Horace Derwent

    Piccirilli the Obscure

  28. 5 out of 5

    lethe

    One of the weirdest books I have ever read. I had no idea what was going on most of the time, it felt so disjointed. Also rather unpleasant, but that may be inherent to the southern gothic genre (Flannery O'Connor had me scarred for life when I read her at twenty or thereabouts). If I had not received this from a very dear friend, I would have put it aside. As it was, the last chapter almost made me knock off the second star for being such an anti-climax.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Repix

    Un libro muy asqueroso que no me ha gustado nada, y eso que lo gore me fascina, pero éste tiene un punto que considero muy desadagrable, aunque reconozco que es un muy buen libro, dentro de su "género".

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    I struggled with this book because I really wasn't in the mood for a puzzle text. Haven't read all of Piccirilli's books yet, but this seems an anomaly because even with his most whacked out characters you have a sense of the journey and can go along for the ride. Here, I sensed a deliberate attempt to write a Barthian text (c.f. The Pleasure of the Text) and also a carnivalesque in the Bahktinian sense. The funny thing is that in in his author's blurb in the back he stated that he was spending I struggled with this book because I really wasn't in the mood for a puzzle text. Haven't read all of Piccirilli's books yet, but this seems an anomaly because even with his most whacked out characters you have a sense of the journey and can go along for the ride. Here, I sensed a deliberate attempt to write a Barthian text (c.f. The Pleasure of the Text) and also a carnivalesque in the Bahktinian sense. The funny thing is that in in his author's blurb in the back he stated that he was spending a lot of his free time reading Gold Medal crime/noir books. Choir of Ill Children is nothing at all like the Gold Medal books. Those critiques aside, Piccirili was a writer's writer, and on every page there are stunning examples of his sentence magic. So, even if I had difficulty following the story and staying in the pocket the book demanded, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this at the most elemental level of the words.

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