Butcher Rising

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It is said that even a villain is the hero of their own story. And everyone does have a story.

“In the end, that’s what we are—all stories, little stories that build to bigger stories, that make up the epic of a lifetime. Stories and epics to be cherished, each and every one, for none are boring to those who know them.” ~JAdM

In a world ravaged by a slate-wiper virus of global scale, society as we once knew it has utterly collapsed. From the ruins of what once was, spring small enclaves of people fighting to survive. Some try to remain civilized, but truly, this is a time when the vicious rise to power. Humanity’s clock has been turned back to a more primitive time when tribes warred over limited resources. What wild foods are safe to eat, how to avoid predators, be they people or animal, how to find or build shelter–all these things must be relearned by a society whose survival instincts have mostly been stripped away thanks to reliance on technology.

Karl Metzger, former convict, is one of those vicious ones who rise to fill the power void. He is now general of the Red Hands, a group comprised of vicious murderers, rapists, and other utterly depraved dregs of past society. With his fierce followers, Karl overtakes settlement after settlement with ease. His ranks grow with each victory. At least until the Red Hands attempt to attack Alice and Hightown, two East Coast cities in alliance with one another. The Red Hands suffer a horrific defeat at Alice, leaving a severely injured Karl traveling with Doctor Freeman, his former cell neighbor in prison, and chief medic for the Red Hands. Despite being hunted, Karl, Freeman, and a low-level soldier end up in a safehouse of the doctor’s. Only Karl manages to leave, fully healed and eager for revenge against those who defeated him. Finding what remains of the Red Hands, Karl sets about rebuilding his army, preparing to face off against Simon Kalispell and the town Alice once again, determined to gain the full resources of Alice and Hightown.

With Butcher Rising, Zenner has done a remarkable job of taking thoroughly unlikable characters and making you care about their story and their motivations. Metzger is the villain of Zenner’s previous book, The After War. This installment of the series parallels the time frame of the previous work, give or take a bit, and each serves as a stand-alone story. While I enjoyed The After War more, this book is just as good. Given the rough customers we follow, Butcher Rising is a grittier story. These are the deplorables of society. The murderers, rapists, and thieves. Those who might once have kept such fantasies secret find a place to let their darker urges free under Karl’s rule. Despite this, I still got drawn into the story. While I may not like these people in general, in the context of this story, I became very invested. My favorite character was Dr Freeman, I think because of his brand of brokenness. He’s calculating yet gripped by compulsions he can’t ignore forever. Karl is calculating too, and ruthless. He’s a cold man with a plan, practicality, and logic guiding his warped steps. Highly recommended!

Author Brandon Zenner
Star Count /5
Format eBook
Page Count 230 pages
Publisher Brandon Zenner
Publish Date 2018-Aug-30
ISBN 9780692161265
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue August 2018
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller


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