Posted in Book review

FO Friday and Book Review: The Serpent of Venice

The Serpent of Venice: A NovelThe Serpent of Venice: A Novel by Christopher Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pocket is back, and as irreverent as ever.

We first made Pocket’s acquaintance in Fool, a comic re-imagining of King Lear. (Yeah, I don’t know exactly what magic Authorguy used to pull off that feat, either, but it worked.)

Here, Christopher Moore plunks Pocket down smack dab in the middle of a combination of Othello and The Merchant of Venice, with a little The Cask of Amontillado tossed in for seasoning. Add a mysterious “mermaid” with rather specialized sexual proclivities and a taste for blood, and you’ve got all the right ingredients for the stew entitled The Serpent of Venice: A Novel. And I mean “stew” in a good way: tasty beef and potatoes and carrots and celery and herbs and spices, simmered just long enough for the ingredients to blend and become flavorful.

So, Pocket is in Venice after Cordelia’s untimely death. But because he is who he is, he opens his mouth once too often and finds himself chained to a wall in a dungeon, where he makes the acquaintance of that mermaid. His mates, Drool the Natural and Jeff the Monkey, are imprisoned, as well, albeit elsewhere. Plot points and hijinks ensue as Moore’s mash-up of two of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays, one a comedy, the other a tragedy, unfold their convoluted and, yes, somewhat twisted, plots.

Personally, I never really considered The Merchant of Venice a comedy; it’s awfully dark behind all those lovely speeches. I was pleased to see Moore’s reinvention take some of the sting out of that play’s ending. Regardless, Moore has a gift for seeing the absurd in classic literature, and he uses that gift well here.

That said, I’m giving three stars for “I liked it” only because Goodreads doesn’t allow half-stars. It’s a 3-1/2 star, enjoyable, fluffy read. With lots of bad language and sex. So, yeah, for mature audiences only.

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7cde9-fofridayYes, my entry for FO Friday is a finished book. Wanna make something of it? I thought not. So, why don’t you click on the badge over there, instead, to see what other folks have finished this week?

Posted in Book review

Book review: Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S.G. Browne

Breathers: A Zombie's Lament
Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S.G. Browne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Andy Warner is having a rough time. Not only did he not survive the car crash that also killed his wife, he reanimated without her and, as a result of his death, he’s not allowed to hold a job; he no longer has custody of his daughter (and must never let her know he came back); he must observe a curfew, stay away from the living (the Breathers), and never ever ever defend himself against the constant abuse he receives triggered by the mere fact of his existence. Oh, and he lives in his parents’ basement while his mother supports the stock price of Glade and Lysol in an effort to keep the stench of his decomposition down, and his father daily threatens to sell him to a research facility because Andy didn’t have the sense to stay dead.

Zombies have no civil rights.

What Andy does have is a support group, Undead Anonymous, and some new friends, including Rita, who sparks a renewed and guilt-inducing interest in romance even while Andy grieves over his lost wife, and Ray, who introduces him to his special homemade preserved “venison”, which Andy thinks might taste better than anything he ever ate while living, and certainly better than anything he’s consumed after death.

Andy also has a sharp interest in his loss of citizenship, and he protests this loss with progressively more visible actions which land him in the local animal shelter on several occasions, waiting for his reluctant parents to even more reluctantly bail him out.

And then, surprisingly, he starts to heal from the injuries he received in the car crash that killed R.I.P. Review Sitehim.

S.G. Browne’s debut novel works on multiple levels: as a rip-roaring comedy and as social satire; as sheer entertainment and a commentary on class, injustice, and the stratification of society, living and dead. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time, sometimes even in the same sentence.

Read this and you’ll never watch The Night of the Living Dead again without maybe possibly cheering for the zombies.

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This book was read as part of R.I.P VIII, Peril the First Challenge. Click that badge up there that says “Review Site” to see other participants and their reviews.
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