Welcome dear readers, to a long overdue new installment of Spider’s Storybook Scrutinies! (what can I say? I like alliterations!)
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Right off the bat folks, I thoroughly enjoyed this book but was left with elements that left me no choice but to give the book a 2.5 rating.
Conceptually, it’s as hilarious a concept as any that the ever-hilarious Christopher Moore has ever come up with, although I didn’t know when I started reading that this was his first book. For that, it is indeed an impressive first outing.
The basic gist of the story is:
“Travis was born in 1900, yet he has not aged since 1919, because he accidentally called up a demon from hell named Catch as his servant, presumably forever. Ever since then, Travis has been trying to get rid of Catch, but he is unable to do so because he has lost the repository of the necessary incantations. He traces their whereabouts to a fictional town called Pine Cove, along Big Sur coast, where he thinks the woman he gave them to may be residing. Interactions with the townspeople and with a djinn, who is pursuing Catch, create considerable complications.”
So it’s got all kinds of potential and the mixed bag of utterly insane yet relate-able characters is the real driving force of this little adventure into hilarity. But therein unfortunately lay the problem for me – whatever I’ve read by Moore seems to have this common thread, this recurring bone of contention that keeps me from fully enjoying the book and ranking Moore higher.
In every one of his books I’ve read, the characters are weird, quirky, at times delightfully and very creatively constructed and end up being a pleasure to read even when there is nothing major happening – which feels like it happens more than it should even when it’s not the case. This is because I find that the concepts and characters are strong, but the execution and progression of the story leaves something to be desired, often finding myself reading ahead just to see more of a particular character or because the authors sense of humour keeps me entertained. The plot itself once established sort of feels like it’s plodding along simply because it has to go somewhere, eventually leading to an ending that while not unsatisfying, does feel like it could have been handled better.
This is a problem for me with Moore’s writing in general and coupled with a strange sense at times that the story at moments suddenly goes from ludicrous and surreal to a graphically real feel, jarring the reader a tad and breaking otherwise decent momentum.
I would still recommend it though, as he is definitely one of the more creative and genuinely funny writers amongst the current crop that I’ve come across.