Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: ***** (5/5)
This story is hard to summarize without giving away elements of the plot that emerge as the story unfolds. If you don’t want any plot spoilers, I suggest you skip to the next section, where I rave about what a good book this is. Charlie, the protagonist, owns a pawn shop passed down from this father and unwillingly acquires the job of being a death merchant which involves collecting the souls of people who are about to pass on. His task is made all the more challenging because it is at a time when certain forces of evil, who draw strength by absorbing human souls, gather to take over the world.
The was a really good story and also an edgy one. Aside from the entire world being unique, because Moore invents a group of demons and fundamental life forces from scratch (or so it seems to me), the plot twists were many and unexpected. Even unexpected, they were foreshadowed just enough to be credible. I figured out the big one at the end about a chapter before it happened. The aspects of the story that were novel and unexpected are paired with the use of the familiar setting of San Francisco and the secondary characters like the cop, Riviera, and the Emperor and his dogs. These elements draw the reader into the story quickly and comfortably.
The edginess of the story intrigued me, as a writer. Moore includes a few deaths in an otherwise fairly light-hearted narrative. Granted the story is about death but some of the deaths shocked me and stretched my engagement with the story, but not to the extent that it broke. And then there were the random sex acts which couldn’t be described as gratuitous and definitely contributed to pushing the story forward but were, well, absurd. But that is one of the reasons I think Christopher Moore’s writing is fantastic – he is a master of absurdity, which I mean with the highest possible regard. From the macho character dressed in mint green to the paranoid pawn shop employee, he amuses the reader while he or she travels along the twisted plot, sometime delighted by the new, sometime comforted by the old.
Other wonderful aspects to this book: insightful yet biting social commentary, vivid, loveable characters, action, and those wonderful Moore metaphors.
This is my favourite Christopher Moore story to date.