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 the Big Book of the Dead and 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, some really freaky 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 Lily Darquewillow Elventhing Severo, 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. . . .
Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore is strange, definitely inappropriate for the younger crowd and bar none THE FUNNIEST book I've read this year.
There's Sophie, the 7 year old "Death with a capital D" who speaks words I didn't learn until at least junior high school. When she loses a tooth and the tooth fairy forgets to stop by ... well, let's just say Toothie won't be doing THAT again any time soon. My mother wouldn't understand half of Sophie's vocabulary, my mother-in-law would invest in soap-making supplies before Sophie's visits and my husband's paternal grandmother would take notes for later use. I kid you not.
Then there's her dad, Charlie, who was killed the last time the underworld vomited out into the Bay Area and has had his soul placed in a 14" tall thing made from spare animal parts and fresh lunch meat (which is probably not so fresh when we 'meet' him, unless they can switch that stuff out when the penicillin starts to grow). And speaking of *ahem* things...well, that's all I'm going to say about that.
They haven't told Sophie that her Dad's soul has been placed in this 'being' and are letting her believe he has passed on...which is nowhere near as disturbing as the truth. But then his essence is switched into a man who voluntarily jumps off the Golden Gate so that all that makes Charlie Charlie can jump into the donor's body.
Seriously, most of the books I read are: a) cozy mysteries, b) historical fiction or c) about faith and spirituality. The only book that comes close to the irreverence of Secondhand Souls is Two Performance Artists Kidnap Their Boss and Do Things With Him by Scotch Wichmann, and that was nearly two years ago.
My literary palate has been well and truly 'cleaned', for lack of a better term, and quite possibly singed or charred a little bit on the tip. But I have to stop typing now because I'm laughing so hard that my hands are shaking....
MEET THE AUTHOR
Christopher Moore is the author of fourteen previous novels, including Lamb, The Stupidest Angel, Fool, Sacré Bleu, A Dirty Job, and The Serpent of Venice.
Find out more about Christopher at his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him onTwitter.
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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)