The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, by Christopher Moore

the-lust-lizard-of-melancholy-cove-by-christopher-mooreGenre: Fantasy
Publisher: Morrow, William & Co
Published: 1999
Reviewer Rating: fivestars 
Book Review by Vincent W. Sakowski

Ever read anything by Christopher Moore? Ever even heard of him? It seems like most people haven’t, which is unfortunate, as he is probably one of the most entertaining contemporary writers I have read. His fifth novel is The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and it’s a welcome addition to his body of work.

In Lust Lizard, Moore returns to Pine Cove, which was the setting for his first novel: Practical Demonkeeping. Two landmarks: H.P.’s (Lovecraft) Cafe and the Head of the Slug Saloon and their proprietors, respectively Howard and Mavis remain; otherwise Moore is dealing with a whole new set of wacky characters. Once again, there’s an (initially) inept police officer, Theo, and this time around it’s a Sea Beast (later named Steve), rather than a Demon that’s eating the residents. But to say “what’s eating the people of Pine Cove this time?” is over-simplifying the story and doesn’t do the novel justice.

Why? Because this is not a story about a sea monster terrorizing a town — rather, it’s a love story, and a lust story, and a whole lot more. Moore explores and satirizes how people are defined: by their occupations, by their pasts, and especially by other people’s perspectives. He asks: “Who are you? No, really, who are you?” “What do you want?” “Who is really crazy?” “Are those drugs really necessary?” “Are you going to finish that sandwich?”

And the answers? All wackiness aside, Moore gets down to the basics — that perhaps what is most important is to love and be loved in return; to be respected and to be made to feel that you and your life are worthwhile.

As always, the story is fun and fast-paced. Moore is never dull, and he stays on track. There are no massive (unnecessary) expository dumps. Rather, any asides are brief, poignant, and usually they are quite hilarious. Moore is allegorical in his approach, and his view of justice is in the “you get what you deserve” category. He paints his world and his characters mixing shades of gray with a gumball kind of Technicolor. Everyone has their faults and weaknesses, but many rise above their “known” capabilities. The “good” often suffer, but they make it through in the end. Meanwhile the “bad/evil” characters usually end up being a snack for Steve. So no huge surprises, but overall it’s a very satisfying read.

Once again, Moore successfully blends the fantastical with the absurdities of humanity. There is no other author that I look more forward to reading. If you haven’t read anything by Christopher Moore you should, and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove is a great place to start.

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