Top positive review
Funny, thrilling, mysterious and heartwarming.
on 9 May 2012
I approached this with trepidation; reading the back cover blurb gave the impression the plot was a knock-off of Terry Pratchett's MORT, where Death takes an apprentice.
Far from it, although Moore utilizes the themes of mortality and the consequences of human interference on the Reaper's duties to the same great comic effect that Pratchett does.
I won't give away too much of the plot, suffice to say that thrift shop owner Charlie Asher's duties as Death don't involve ushering souls into the hereafter but collecting their souls that have taken residence in physical, manmade objects. When he fails a few times there is a shift in the cosmic balance, and forces darker than Death gather strength in the literal underworld - the sewer system beneath San Francisco.
Forces that take the form of dark beings from Celtic and Classical mythology...and Charlie Asher soon realises he is not on his own. For his daughter Sophie has unusual powers of her own as well...
Underpinning the page-turning thrills and chuckles is an exploration of death itself and how humanity deals with it, and finds the strength to carry on - and this is where the true heart of the book lies. Moore's mother died during the process of writing this book, and there is a lengthy section that details the passing of Charlie Asher's mother. Human, sad, but ultimately uplifting - and Chapter 18 has a line that will stay with me always. For Asher's mother seems to have rallied against her illness, and is full of life. This is no promise of recovery, however, as the hospice nurse explains:
"It happens again and again. I've seen people come out of a coma and sing their favourite songs, and all I can tell you is to enjoy it. People see the light come back into eyes that have been dull for months, and they start to place hope on it. It's not a sign of getting well, it's an opportunity to say goodbye. It's a gift."
As this book is. Thank you, Mr Moore.
If you're new to Christopher Moore and wonder where to start, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Fans of Pratchett should definitely give it a go.