To start, I’d like to thank Chauncey for being a trooper as I basically harassed him via Twitter while reading this. I typically hang with the fam during the week and read heavily on the weekends, so I may have been a little overzealous with my excitement of spreading a book over a few days.
When I started this book, I actually created a list of chicken related puns as I read to use in my review like, “You’ll crow with delight over this novel.”
Alas, the story got real dark, friends, and they no longer felt appropriate.
Home to Roost tells the story of Brad, a rooster, as he’s taken from his clutch of chicks, moved into a little girl’s room, and finally housed in the little girl’s family’s coop. He wants to make friends and fit in with his fellow chickens, but his tendency to ask questions gets him in trouble, leading to the situation unraveling and finally ending in blood and gore for many involved.
We’re gonna jump straight into the nitty gritty details, because I have a lot I want to cover in this review, so, a few things I didn’t love:
- Brad’s name is changed to Little Crown upon moving into the coop. He doesn’t love it, but doesn’t spend too much time thinking about it. Later, he insists its changed back at the risk of losing some progress he’s worked toward. With as much as he thinks through things, it seemed unlikely that he wouldn’t think about this at all if it bothered him that much.
- On Brad’s second night, a raccoon makes its way into the coop, kills a few chickens, and drags another out into the night with it. Brad feels so strongly in his need to save said chicken, that he wanders into the “forbidden” woods to see if he can find his new friend. He gets spooked and never really thinks about her again. Brad is passionate, and the fact that he felt that strongly about going after his friend only to bail entirely on the venture felt off. Especially juxtaposed with his personality throughout the remainder of the novel.
- There’s an incident with a guy laying in a ditch near the house and another of a guy in the yard. While I believe these were maybe tied to the end, they still felt a little left out there. I would’ve loved to have a more definitive conclusion to these threads. Although, since the book is based on a true story, perhaps there just isn’t a conclusion to these happenings.
Ok, a few things I did love, there were a lot, so I’ve only picked a few…
- The writing is beautiful. I’m not typically a highlighter in books, but I found myself drawn to marking short phrases or passages like “the…jagged and leafless tree of lightning.” It reminded me of high school when I needed passages to reference for my AP English papers… only this time I was drawn to do it rather than being compelled by a teacher.
- It’s legit creepy. There were a few of the “Asides” where, even though I may have been reading in daylight with people nearby, I still adjusted my position and looked around a little. It’s not ghost haunting creepy or creepy that lingers, but still gives you pause in those spots to momentarily ground yourself back in reality.
- Ok, this last one is my favorite and is going to quickly unravel into my own personal ramblings. Before we get there, I just want to start with a PSA.
This is only my interpretation of a statement the author may or may not have intended. I mean no disrespect to anyone’s beliefs/opinions. Thanks in advance for understanding.
The cover states “A struggle against society, nature, and evil,” but I really feel strongly that this provides a statement about the hypocrisy of religion, especially when wielded by those in power to further their own agenda. I’ll do my best to walk through this at a high level without any spoilers. If you’ve read the book (and you should), and want to talk details, I would LOVE that, so give me a holler.
The chickens, led by Father Rooster, worship the sun. They give thanks to it each night, discuss how it protects them because of their likeness to it, and even use it to explain tragic events. As Brad comes into the group and asks questions about their way of life, Father Rooster quickly takes this as an affront to his leadership and uses the hens’ faith in The Great Yolk to ostracize Brad in an effort to force him to fall in line.
As the story continues, we see Father Rooster mirror some of Brad’s activities. The difference being, when Father Rooster does something, it’s to protect the flock while Brad’s completion of these same actions are blasphemy against the coop and The Great Yolk. Eventually, this justification goes so far as to support violence.
There are further details in the book that I feel support this reading, and plenty of examples of these same type of occurrences in various religions around the world, but I don’t want to turn my review into a full on rambling of my view of religion and the parallels this book offers to the potentially dark nature of it, so I’ll move on.
I loved this book. It’s dark and some of it’s a little bloody, so be ready, but it’s so worth the read. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and enthusiastically recommend that you pick it up soon.