Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Review - The Builders by Daniel Polansky

A missing eye. A broken wing. A stolen country.

The last job didn’t end well.

Years go by, and scars fade, but memories only fester. For the animals of the Captain’s company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain’s whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.

Polansky, you magnificent bastard. 

I have just finished The Builders, and I am stunned. 

I really don't even know where to begin. 

Do I rave about how you took a genre (dark fantasy) and made it your own with this story? Or do I wax lyrical about your off the hook action sequences amidst a story that is essentially about anthropomorphic animals and their revenge? Or perhaps I can comment about your incorporation of weird western elements into the overall plot? 

Ah fuck it... I will just cut to the chase. 

The Builders is THE story of the year so far. 

Brutal, gut wrenching, and darkly humorous with a dash of fucked up, The Builders sets the bar extremely high in telling the tale of the Captain and his merry (as in they can, and will, bust you in the nuts if you cross them) band as they seek revenge on those who betrayed them many years ago. And the plot... damn it is good! Starting out at a rocket pace that never slows, the reader is brought up to speed via chapters that aren't linear in nature. This structure works extremely well, giving an insight into past events that eventually lead to the night where the Captain and his friends finally seek their revenge. And the characters... wow. Depicted in a way that only Polansky could pull off, the Captain (mouse) and his group (including a stout, salamander, and badger) ooze snark and dark charisma in spades. Each has their own issues, quirks and demons, and each brings something different to the story. I fell head over heels in love with them all, and their interaction and discourse with each other had me in fits of laughter at times. Another magical thing about them was the fact that whilst they all have human-like qualities and emotions they still retained some of their animalistic instinct and nature. I never thought I could be moved so much by a ragtag group of animals, but this bunch burrowed their way into my heart and made themselves at home. And as the story unfolded and things became clearer I was blown away by the simple yet intricate way Polansky had guided me there. Be prepared for feels amidst the incredible violence... lots and lots of feels. 

This novella utterly brilliant. It is Redwall. It is Watership Down. It is the Dirty Dozen. It is Unforgiven and True Grit. It is all of them, and more. 

It is The Builders. 

A different and masterful tale that epitomises everything I love about this genre, The Builders is highly recommended for anyone (human and animal) with a beating heart!

5 out of 5 stars. 

A review copy was provided. 


  1. Wow, so I guess you liked it?? ;-) I'm so happy I have a copy, I just got a bunch of Tor.Com titles, and I think I'll read this one first!

  2. Those Above wasn't as dark as advertised but this one sounds promising, I'm planning to read it.