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Thicker Than Water Kindle Edition
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Paul, the main character, has attempted to summon a personal demon to assist him in his ineffectual life. Characteristically, he's managed only to botch the job. His invocation spell, which we later find is a cut and shut effort, has lumbered him with Scarth - a hybrid "chimera" who is not only useless and stupid but inclined to eat anything, from gravel to ice-cream to people. Hell being un-educated about "fitness for purpose" in purchases, Paul finds that both the chimera and his superiors resist all efforts to return Scarth to The Pit.
Throughout, the main characters felt like people I might know or have known - Ess the bright Earth Mother Wiccan, Paul the nerdy IT support technician, Dumpster the pub hard-man (dominated by his tiny wife), the large and ebullient Professor "Oz" who pretends to be a sexual predator and is actually an expert on several subjects. Being myself an agnostic, I found Paul's encounter with the "provisional wing" of the Christian church amusing, but I daresay a churchgoer might be offended, so don't buy this book for your mother if she pours the tea for Bring and Buy Sales at St Jehosophat's.
The actual demons have interesting - and surely satirical - qualities, such as utter seriousness, lack of creative imagination, and a selfish dedication to career oneupmanship. I wonder who they reminded me of? I couldn't POSSIBLY comment. Naturally, in a work of fiction, these qualities are the ones that let them down and allow Paul to free himself from his impulse buy of the spiritual companion from Hell. By the end of the book, I'd got involved enough to worry, as Ess does, about what will become of Scarth - and even the howling, Hell-filled misery of his scream - when his tie to Paul is finally cut.
The writing is witty, without being overdone, and the tone is light despite the dark possibilities of the story. You're never in doubt that Paul and Ess and Oz WILL succeed against the forces of the Pit, but wanting to know exactly how is what makes this a page turner. (Or screen flicker. Whatever.)
PS I wouldn't have bought this for the cover, but the inside is worth twice the price.
As Paul sets out on the journey to try and rid himself of Scarth he gathers a great supporting cast of characters. Ess (Vanessa), a young Wiccan Earth Mother; Oz, a larger than life Dr of Divinity and Professor of Applied Psychiatry, and Dumpster - a heavily muscled regular at the King's Head pub.
The story really is terrific. Set in modern day London, it is funny, well paced, full of interesting characters, and has a sense of dark threat just under the surface. You really don't know what Scarth is going to do next. I also really enjoyed the emerging relationship between Paul and Ess which was really nicely written.
Overall: 5 stars - Highly enjoyable and well worth reading!
To provide some balance I do have a couple of niggling criticisms, one a question of formatting, the other of semantics. Firstly, there is one sequence where the point-of-view is rapidly switching between two characters, which I found confusing at first until I realised it was happening; perhaps a line break in addition to the end of paragraphs would have made things a little clearer? Secondly, on reading the title, I imagined a school-aged eponymous keeper rather than the slightly older chap we got. I realise that youth is relative but I was again slightly confused at first.
In summary, this was an awful lot better than a lot of books that I've paid a lot more money for. Like previous reviewers, I look forward to reading more of Mr. Simms work in due course.
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The characters were well rounded and you could empathise with them easily.Read more