Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Serpent of Venice

by Christopher Moore
326 pgs

In 2009 Christopher Moore introduced the foul-mouthed and depraved character of Pocket, based on the royal fool from Shakespeare's King Lear, in his aptly titled book Fool. I'll admit right up front that it wasn't my favorite Moore book, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it quite a bit.

In The Serpent of Venice Moore hijacks characters from two separate Shakespeare plays, Othello and The Merchant of Venice, borrowers an element from a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, and places them in Venice in the 13th century and has them meet up with Marco Polo. I know, it's hard to imagine why someone hadn't done this already, but with Christopher Moore, it makes perfect sense.

This time around Pocket has been lured to Venice by three wealthy and powerful men who intend to eliminate the man who has been thwarting their plans for more wealth and power for far too long. When he arrives he's promised an evening with a wanton and nubile young Venetian woman, but instead is drugged, shackled, and confined behind a newly constructed wall in his cell, left to drown with the next high tide. Fortunately for Pocket he's saved by what he erroneously believes at the time to be an amorous mermaid but which turns out to be something far less worthy to brag about later on.

As Pocket goes about seeking revenge against those who think he's dead, Moore's talent for making you blush while you laugh out loud is on display. But don't let the language and the debauchery that Moore loves to throw into his stories fool you, there's a genius at work here and even though I'll never be buying one of his books for my mother, I have no doubt I'll be buying every one he writes for myself.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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