Urban Fantasy Review: Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore

Secondhand Souls coverFalling somewhere between offbeat/quirky and silly/juvenile, Secondhand Souls was actually a much more enjoyable read than I anticipated. Clearly I've missed something by diving into the second book of a series, but Christopher Moore recaps previous events well (and often . . . a tad too often), so I don't really feel like I've missed anything.

What you have here is a world where people are 'chosen' to become Grim Reapers - yes, plural Grim Reapers, because it really is too big a job for one person. Charlie was a recipient of the Big Book of the Dead last around, had the recommended kitty calendar, carried around a #2 pencil, and ultimately sacrificed himself to stop a Celtic banshee from destroying San Francisco. Or, at least that's what the world believes. In reality, his Buddist nun girlfriend saved him from that fate, cobbling together a new body out of lunch meat and animal parts - a 14 inch body, with a 10 inch penis. Yup, and we're just getting started. There's also a seven-year-old daughter, who used to be princess of the Underworld, but whose powers have deserted her along with the hellhounds who protected her.

Suffice to say, since his replacement couldn't be bothered to actually collect any of the souls that came so conveniently penciled in on his kitty calendar, it falls to Charlie to save the world. Fortunately, he's not alone - aiding him in this insanity are the aforementioned horny Buddist nun and profanity-charged daughter, along with a tiny crocodile wizard, a gang of Squirrel People, a retired cop, a bridge painter, the weirdly eccentric Emperor of San Francisco, and a Goth girl turned inappropriate suicide hotline counselor . . . whose best line for getting a guy not to jump is to offer him a blowjob.

The plot itself is pretty basic, with your requisite dark powers trying to take over the world, but it's really secondary to the characters and the comedy. To be honest, I think we were halfway through the story before the villain even stepped onto the stage. It's a book that bordered on tedious or repetitive at times, but the frantic swing between satire and slapsitck, not to mention irreverence and (political) incorrectness, keeps you on your toes. Secondhand Soulsis a book that certainly owes a debt to Pratchett and Gaiman, but which seems tailored more for a Hangover or Neighbors generation. Funny, funny stuff, with scenes that will stick with you long after you forget what it was really about.


About the Author

Christopher Moore is the author of fourteen previous novels, includingLamb, The Stupidest Angel, Fool, Sacré Bleu, A Dirty Job,andThe Serpent of Venice.

Find out more about Christopher at hiswebsite, connect with him onFacebook, and follow him onTwitter.


About the Book

Secondhand Souls cover

Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore
• Paperback:368 pages
• Publisher:William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 10, 2016)

In San Francisco, the souls of the dead are mysteriously disappearing—and you know that can't be good—in this delightfully weird and funny sequel to theNew York TimesbestsellerA Dirty Job.

It seems like only yesterday that Charlie Asher took on a very dirty job—collecting souls and keeping the Forces of Darkness at bay. The new gig came with theBig Book of the Deadand a host of other oddities: creatures under the streets, an evil trinity of ravenlike Celtic death goddesses, and one very bad Underworld dude attempting to conquer humanity. Along with a cohort of other oddballs, Charlie faced off against these denizens of darkness—and met his own end. But thanks to Audrey, his Buddhist-nun boo, his soul is still alive . . . inside a fourteen-inch-high body made from lunchmeat and spare animal parts. Waiting for Audrey to find him a suitable new body to play host, Charlie has squirreled himself away from everyone, including his adorable seven-year-old daughter, Sophie, who enjoys dressing up like a princess, playing with her glitter ponies, and—being the Luminatus—spouting off about her power over the Underworld and her dominion over Death.

Just when Charlie and company thought the world was safe, somereallyfreaky stuff hits San Francisco. People are dying, but their souls are not being collected. Someone—or something—is stealing them and no one knows where they are going, or why, but it has something to do with that big orange bridge. Then there's the Taser-wielding banshee keening about doom who's suddenly appeared while Sophie's guardian hellhounds, Alvin and Mohammed, have mysteriously vanished.

Charlie is just as flummoxed as everyone else. To get to the bottom of this abomination, he and a motley crew of heroes will band together: the seven-foot-tall, two-hundred-and-seventy-five-pounds-of-lean-heartache Death Merchant Minty Fresh; the retired policeman-turned-bookseller Alphonse Rivera; the lunatic Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs, Bummer and Lazarus; Mike Sullivan, a bridge painter in love with a ghost; a gentle French-speaking janitor named Jean-Pierre Baptiste; and former Goth girl LilyDarquewillow ElventhingSevero, now a part-time suicide hotline counselor.

With little Sophie babbling about the coming battle for the very soul of humankind, time is definitely not on their side. . . .

Irresistibly zany, rich in humor, heart, and spirit,Secondhand Soulsis vintage Christopher Moore.

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