Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore (4 stars)

About The Serpent of Venice

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: William Morrow (February 27, 2015)

Venice, a really long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy from Britain who also happens to be a favorite of the Doge: the rascal-Fool, Pocket.

This trio of cunning plotters—the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago—have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising a spirited evening with a rare Amontillado sherry and a fetching young noblewoman. Their invitation is, of course, a ruse. The wine is drugged; the girl is nowhere in sight. These scoundrels have something far less amusing planned for the man who has consistently foiled their quest for power and wealth. But this Fool is no fool . . . and the story is only beginning.

Once again, Christopher Moore delivers a rousing literary satire and a cast Shakespeare himself would be proud of: Shylock; Iago; Othello; a dozen or so disposable villains; a cadre of comely wenches; the brilliant Fool; his sidekick, Drool; his monkey, Jeff; a lovesick sea serpent; and a ghost (there’s always a bloody ghost).

Wickedly witty and outrageously inventive, The Serpent of Venice pays cheeky homage to the Bard and illuminates the absurdity of the human condition as only Christopher Moore can.

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It takes a daring writer to take characters from Edgar Allen Poe (The Cask of Amontillado) and William Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice and Othello: The Moor of Venice) and create a new story spanning a wide (and altered from the source texts) timeframe. Yet, Christopher Moore does not shy away from this feat one bit.

I will admit I haven't read any of the above pieces, and I can only imagine it would add to the experience. Still, I found myself drawn into the action of the story and hilarity of these characters. Even the way the book is set up -- with Acts and inserted Chorus comments -- is captivating. I rarely failed to laugh when the Chorus chimed in with witty asides. For example:

CHORUS: And so the bitter and shallow fool learns that it's not quite so funny when the soliloquy that is walked in upon is his.

Although the storyline is fast-paced and intriguing, I found the humor and sarcasm most appealing and engaging. It's raw--if you shy away from the F word, choose another book--and witty. The review from the front cover says it so well:

"Shakespeare and Poe might be rolling in their graves, but they're rolling with laughter. Moore is one of the cleverest, naughtiest writers alive." Carl Hiaasen

Boom. Perfect. It is both clever and naughty. I highly recommend it to readers who appreciate Shakespearean language and situations as well as tomfoolery and witty humor.

Rating: 4 stars 

About Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is the author of twelve previous novels: Practical Demonkeeping,Coyote BlueBloodsucking FiendsIsland of the Sequined Love NunThe Lust Lizard of Melancholy CoveLambFlukeThe Stupidest AngelA Dirty JobYou SuckFool, and Bite Me. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Find out more about Christopher at his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Please visit other stops on the The Serpent of Venice blog tour page.


Anonymous said...

I imagine that if you go back to read the original works now, you'll often find yourself hearing Moore's irreverent dialogue as you read. :)

Thanks for being a part of the tour!