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PRACTICAL DEMONKEEPING by Christopher Moore

PRACTICAL DEMONKEEPING

By Christopher Moore

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-07069-1
Publisher: St. Martin's

 Good-natured, often funny, but excessively complicated tale that matches a people-eating demon against his reluctant master and the citizens of a small California town. First-novelist Moore throws in more plot twists than the Pacific Coast highway has curves. He obviously knows and is amused by the flawed but feisty denizens with which he inhabits Pine Grove, south of the Big Sur wilderness area. To this tourist town comes Travis O'Hearn, a 20-year-old who, 70 years before, got saddled with a demon, Catch, who gave him eternal youth plus problems. Catch is sometimes under Travis's control but often not, particularly when he's hungry. Travis wants out, namely by finding an incantation that will return the demon to Hell. On Travis's side are the King of the Djinns and August Brine, Pine Grove's purveyor of bait, tackle, and fine wines. Others who swell the cast past overflowing include waitress Jenny and her estranged, alcoholic husband Robert; tough old Mavis, who owns the Head of the Slug bar (it had been Head of the Wolf until animal-rights activists leaned on her); retired woodcarving codger Effrom and his wife Amanda; hotel night auditor Billy Winston, who flirts with other males by computer modem while wearing red silk panties; once-battered Rachael, who runs a coven to empower women through worship of the Goddess; and Detective Sergeant Alfonse Rivera, who fears he will end up bagging microwave burritos at a 7-Eleven unless he nails down a case. The author's youthful high spirits, insight into small-town people, and comic brashness help to overcome the fact that too many characters jump through too many hoops with too much unnecessary hocus-pocus.