Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore

Fuckstockings. If that odd expletive offends you, Christopher Moore's books are not for you. On the other hand, if you find that to be an invaluable addition to your turn the air blue vocabulary, you should pick his books up immediately. If you are undecided, well, put some pants on and pick a side. Because there's no middle ground with a Moore book. He writes about vampires (human and animal), zombies, Jesus's childhood, the art world and artists, a dumb angel, demons, Shakespeare's characters, Native American myths, and more. This eclectic collection probably does not sound like something I'd read at all, aside from the inventive and genius swearing thing, because I do love a thumping great curse word. And yet, I love Moore's works. He's smart and witty and twisted in the best sense of the word. The Serpent of Venice, Moore's latest and a sequel of sorts (not really) to his earlier novel, Fool, may not be my favorite of his books but it has all the important hallmarks of a classic Christopher Moore. An inventive and head-spinningly complex mash-up of The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado, The Serpent of Venice brings back Pocket the Fool from Moore's King Lear inspired novel.

Pocket is in Venice. He left his beloved Queen and wife Cordelia at her own behest to travel to Venice and prevent the start of another Crusade. His strength in negotiating is his very annoying manner, his irreverence, and his instinctive mocking lewdness. While the doge appreciates Pocket, the rest of Venice does not and his stance on another Crusade makes him and England very unpopular. When the novel opens, he is traveling to a clandestine dinner that promises much bawdiness. Instead, he finds plotters who want him as dead as his Queen, who they admit to poisoning. He is drugged with an old Amontillado and walled up in the basement dungeon of Brabantio (yes, Desdemona's father) and left to die. But Pocket is not so easily killed and he vows revenge for the death of his love.

With the help of a dragon, Shylock and his daughter Jessica, Othello and Desdemona, and even Marco Polo, Pocket will wreak vengeance on a whole cast of Shakespeare's baddies and their cohorts, Brabantio, Antonio, Iago, and more. Moore has tied well known Shakespeare plays up in knots but he has managed to rope his disparate source material together well, grounding his novel in a firm and legitimate knowledge of the works in question. The originals may be completely intertwined but they are still recognizable and his use of famous lines and speeches reinforces their presence. His Pocket the Fool is still a raucous and debauched character fond of willy waving and outright innuendo. His scheming machinations throughout the novel prove that revenge Moore-style is a dish best served cold. Shakespeare's characters remain true to their originals, for the most part, and somehow they fit in beautifully even when Pocket is wading through the deepest canals of vulgarity.

The novel is accomplished and entertaining, the sort of rollicking farce that readers have come to expect from Moore. Moore's end note about the original works and how he structured this warped mash-up is interesting indeed. Knowledge of the originals is not strictly necessary but helpful in catching all the allusions and nods. Likewise, a previous reading of Fool is not necessary either but again enhances and adds to the depth of the playing about here. There are moments where the plot stalls a bit and Pocket's long simmering plan for revenge can be a little over long but in general, Moore's latest version of the Bard on hallucinogens will satisfy fans and the not easily offended quite a bit.

For more information about Christopher Moore and the book, check out his website, his Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this latest adventure for Moore - it sounds like it is an excellent and hilarious read!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts