Everyone has a holiday tradition. Some people roast a turkey. Some fry the turkey (the danger makes it taste better). Some people leave milk and cookies. Some people do elf on a shelf to shame their children into behaving. And some people re-read A Christmas Carol.
I am not one of those people.
Instead, I read The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (and I watch The Nightmare Before Christmas when I can catch it).
Christopher Moore is my favorite contemporary author (and is certainly the author I’ve read the most, excluding series for kids like Redwall, Animorphs, Goosebumps, and Little House on the Prairie). He’s published 15 books, and I’ve read and enjoyed them all (except one, but that might just have been more about me at the time than the book). This book brings together characters from four other books and gives them a holiday twist.
So spoiler-free review: It helps to have read the other books these characters come from, but it’s not necessary. I read this one before I read any of the original books the characters were from. He does a good job of introducing the characters with a paragraph so it’s not some drawn-out immersion into understanding each individual character, which wouldn’t work for a relatively short book.
The setting finds us in the tree-infested land of Pine Cove, California, in the days leading up to California. It’s very difficult to talk about any aspects of the book without giving away plot points, so I’m just going to do my best: There’s a pilot, a hippy cop, a former B-list movie star, a sexy Santa, a racist Santa, an angel, a bat, and a biologist with electrodes on his scrotum.
Moore is really good at putting you into very serious situations, and then making you laugh at the absurdity of it all. The first book of his I read (A Dirty Job) is only the second book that made me repeatedly laugh out loud reading it (the first being The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). This book succeeded just the same. I think I’ve read it four times now. It’s the closest thing I have to a holiday tradition. I don’t get to it every year, but I usually get a little bummed when I realize I forgot to read it.
So if this enticed you, go grab the book. You’ve got time to finish it by Christmas. If you thought, “Hey, Q. This sounds nice, but I don’t want to read that right now,” or “I’d rather read the books in order,” have I got an idea for you: Go back and read his catalog. He has a recommended reading order. If you do this, you’ll already know the characters when you read this book, but again, it’s not necessary. There are three true series (the Pine Cove series is really just stories set in the same place and can be easily read out of order), but everything else stands pretty well on its own.
So here’s my last bit for folks who won’t go past the spoiler zone: It’s a fun book. It’s a comedic horror (or horror comedy, not sure which order is appropriate). I’d say it’s 95% comedy and 5% horror. You’re not going to have nightmares, but don’t give this book to your grandma unless your grandma’s into weird stuff.
We need spoilers now. So if you haven’t read the book and intend to, go away.
I used Deadpool and not Ferris for a reason. This book is the Deadpool take on things. It’s very aware of where it sits in the world and loves commenting on EVERYTHING.
The thing I like about Moore’s books is that he puts inane humanity on everyday situations and supernatural situations. Sometimes the plot is simple (or almost nonexistent), but the books are always enjoyable (except maybe Fluke, but I know others have loved that book). He is basically the opposite of the authors whose books I enjoy for the plot and not the writing.
In this one, we have the death of Santa, lots of jokes that aren’t really appropriate anywhere, and zombies attacking a Christmas party. And you probably never go a page without a joke. And that’s why I like his writing. He literally blows the head off a character and then immediately makes a joke to break the tension. That’s his style. This is not a serious book even when he’s making serious points.
If you really want an exemplification of his style, read Lamb or A Dirty Job. The former is about the lost years of Jesus and the latter is about a guy who becomes death. There is heavy, heavy stuff being covered in those books, but you never go long without a joke to at least break your frown.
And so it goes. I enjoy The Stupidest Angel, and I intend to keep reading it every year or two. It’s not a lot of work, and it brightens the darkest time of year (we’re at the winter solstice the day after I’m typing this). The world can be a crappy place sometimes, so it’s important to find humor where you can, even if it’s the undead trying to eat the brains of the Christmas revelers.