Imagine this: a novel that has vampires and witches and monsters as its key characters who are suffering existential issues based on life’s struggles. Imagine if The Odd Couple starred witches or if Lucille ball were a sorceress who solved crimes on I Love Lucy? Is your mind blown yet?
Lennox Brown’s The Small Matter of the Death Cult of Katahdin, the first entry in The Shabby Realm series, is an explosive, enjoyable, creative debut of an author I’ve read in some time. Replete with excellent pacing, snappy dialogue, and a hilarious dynamic between a down on his luck vampire and his licensed witch wife, makes this book a fun, refreshing read.
Winston, the aforementioned vampire whose seen better days job wise, is looking to regain his place in the upper echelon of the private investigator world. He makes a discovery that he feels will help him to accomplish this personal and financial goal, but as the great genres of literature have taught us time and time again, there are many seemingly insurmountable obstacles that will try to avoid Winston from reaching the objective. Without being too spoiler-y, let’s just say that Winston’s discovery also is discovered by his ex-wife Maggie, forcing them to unite their efforts as they escape the murderous path of other monsters and demons.
Thrust into an otherworldly realm, Winston and Maggie embark on a humorous, suspenseful journey. The plot unfolds with the easiest of ease, bringing the reader on a trek with Winston and Maggie who just happen to be a vampire and a witch, respectively, who want to change their plot in life then what they’re being subjected to in East London. The overall governing objective soon becomes their safe return home, hopefully with the magical discovery in tow. They realize quickly, however, that the object they both vehemently seek is just a catalyst for them to understand that life is always a journey.
Lennox Brown’s book is a treat for the senses. The mind’s eye is bombarded with hilarious images of a wry vampire and a jaded witch on this maniacal journey through space and time. I soon forgot that Winston and Maggie were supernatural characters as they embodied a myriad of human emotions and characteristics usually saved for the depiction of humans in literature. Touched with Buffy-like satire but with the beating heart of some of Anne Rice’s best works, Brown’s novel is a commendable addition to the canon of self-referential popular culture.