Monday, November 28, 2016

You are a servant of Destiny, not its agent. Get over yourself

Have I mentioned before how much I love Christopher Moore? Because it is a lot.* So of course I picked up Secondhand Souls, the sequel to A Dirty Job, which is one of my favorite Moore books. More Charlie, more Minty, more Lilly and Sohpie and the hellhounds and the Emperor and all of those other fun characters? SIGN ME UP.

But here's the thing, I felt like the book was lacking a bit of...soul
HA, I'm hilarious. But seriously though, there was a lot of stuff going on here, with a bunch of subplots and set up and it just felt like there was so much it was trying to do that it didn't get a chance to really spend much time in any area so things weren't as developed as I hoped. A Dirty Job focused a lot on the idea of death and loss and was really moving in between the funny and, yeah, sophmoric humor. There was a depth to the story. Here it seemed that he was setting things up so more would be at stake but ultimately I cared less about everyone this time around.

I was going to say there are some spoilers here for the first book, but I'm not giving away anything the back of Secondhand Souls doesn't already tell you, so I guess mild spoiler warning.
In A Dirty Job, beta-male Charlie Asher is dealing with the death of his wife Rachel, who died giving birth to their daughter Sophie. As if that wasn't enough to throw at a guy, it turns out he's a "little death". He's not the Grim Reaper but he's sort of like a mall Santa, collecting souls and helping people pass on. His daughter, it turns out, is Big Death (the Luminatus) and there are a group of creatures looking to take over San Francisco and Charlie saves the day but gives his life in the process (again, spoilers all revealed on the back of this book so).

This time around, Charlie is back, his soul being housed in one of the creatures his girlfriend Audrey, a Buddist nun, managed to create. He's hidden away while they try to find a body to move his soul into. But in the meantime, it seems that souls in San Francisco aren't being collected and something bad is brewing in the city's underbelly.

While that sounds simple enough, there are a lot of subplots jammed in (Audrey's creatures deciding maybe they could have something better, the Morrigan are back, a big black guy dressed all in yellow seems to know something is going on, souls aren't being collected, a bridge painter at the Golden Gate Bridge starts talking to ghosts, Sophie has lost her hellhounds, Charlie trying to get a body, Lilly and Minty break up but is there still something between them) and while these do tie together, none of them really get a chance to breath.

There was actually one subplot that I think if it was more the focus of the book, it would have been more successful. A painter for the Golden Gate Bridge is strapped into his harness when he's visited by a ghost. She tells him her story about her life and how she died and she believes there's a reason he can hear her and wants him to listen to the stories of other souls who seem to be trapped in the bridge. I'm still not 100% sure how the stories of each of the ghosts he talks to tie into this main story, but I would have liked more of that and maybe less of the other subplots going on.

In the end, it's still Christopher Moore and I still enjoyed it. It was just not a favorite. Perhaps I'll go read A Dirty Job again.

Gif rating:
*What are some of his other books that I've reviewed? Oh well I'm glad you asked: Bite Me: A Love Story, Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, Coyote Blue, Fool, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Practical Demonkeeping, Sacre Bleu, The Serpent of Venice, The Stupidest Angel, You Suck: A Love Story

Title quote from page 2.

Moore, Christopher. Secondhand Souls. William Morrow, 2015.