The Serpent of Venice, by Christopher Moore (April 2014)
I just about died when this Advanced Reader's Copy was sent to our bookstore; Moore is one of my favorite authors, and this novel is a sequel to the first Moore book I read and loved, "Fool." Just as that was a retelling of Shakespeare's "King Lear," this is a reworking of "Othello" and "The Merchant of Venice." Moore's work is always dark, but this novel is especially so. Pocket's beloved queen, the beautiful Cordelia, has died while Pocket is on a diplomatic mission to Venice, trying to stop an unnecessary Crusade. Pocket is himself left for dead, but is sustained by...something. Something slithery and dark and clawed. Upon realizing that he is going to live, Pocket devotes the rest of the book to revenge. Coldblooded, delicious revenge. So it's vulgar and funny and all that Moore is brilliant at (the Chorus just about killed me every time), but it's actually more serious than most of his other books. Vengeance and plotting and racism are heady subjects, and Moore does a wonderful job of emulating Shakespearean hyperbole. I found myself wondering many times whether he was quoting or paraphrasing or just being a really good writer. This is a different sort of offering from Moore, and though I wasn't sure how I felt about it while reading, I can say now that I really like it. He's a gifted storyteller, and as always, I look forward to reading more of Moore.