Friday, August 26, 2011

Are you saying...that the human race was created to irritate Satan?

Practical Demonkeeping is Christopher Moore's first novel and it shows. All of Moore's humor and quirkiness are there but the story itself is rough. Rough as in "could be improved upon to make a more polished finished product" and not "deals with difficult topics".

Practical Demonkeeping tells the story of Travis who accidentally said an incantation to call up the demon Catch. Travis is supposedly Catch's master but controlling a hell demon is a lot of work. Travis and Catch travel to the little town of Pine Cove which is filled with the typical off-beat collection of Moore characters, "winos, neo-pagans and deadbeat Lotharios" as the back cover describes. The Pine Cove-ians have to work together with the djinn (genie) Gian Hen Gian to send Catch back to hell, given his propensity for eating people. Those of you who are Moore fans may remember Catch from his appearance in my favorite Moore book (and favorite book overall) Lamb, and officer Alphonse Rivera from the Bloodsucking Fiends books and Coyote Blue. A few of the other characters and the locations show up elsewhere, but I haven't read those yet.

This has all of the makings of a typical Moore offering and yet it fell short for me. There are great moments, the characters are colorful but not caricatures (at least not all of them) and the plot is unique and funny, but I felt like I was reading something that was unfinished. Maybe it only felt unfinished because I've read other Moore and I know what he can do. It's interesting to see how he's grown as an author, but I'm glad this wasn't the first book of his that I read because I don't know that I would have gone for his others.

If you like Moore and you've read all his other stuff, check this out. If you haven't read him before, start with Lamb or Fool or A Dirty Job first.

Title quote from page 43

Moore, Christopher. Practical Demonkeeping. Harper Collins, 1992.