The devil went down to Brooklyn, looking for a little help from some hipsters.
In a story that can’t decide at all whether it wants to be parody or horror, this debut novel by Bushnell shudders to an unpredictable end. Our hero is Billy Ridgeway, and he’s a giant loser. A wannabe novelist who works at a sandwich joint in Brooklyn, he can’t even carve out enough privacy to hook up with his sort-of-girlfriend, Denver. His life is thrown for a loop when he returns to his ratty apartment one morning to find Lucifer Morningstar himself sitting on his couch, ready with a PowerPoint presentation of his pitch to Billy. The devil, it turns out, needs Billy to steal a powerful talisman, the Neko of Infinite Equilibrium, from a nearby warlock named Timothy Ollard, in return for a lucrative book deal. “Just walk into the horrible tower and get the stupid cat and give it to Satan and everything could be different. You could get your book published. You could save the world,” Billy muses. Added to the mix is the Northeast Regional Office for the Right-Hand Path, an international conglomerate of witches and warlocks. This is all played for arch comedy in the vein of Christopher Moore or S.G. Browne, but there’s something off-putting about the execution of Billy’s deity-riddled adventure. First of all, Billy and his poet/filmmaker/actor buddies are all frivolous urban clichés with no real substance. Secondly, Bushnell’s plot stays focused on the back-stabbing Brooklyn literary scene, with a denouement that centers on a disastrous literary reading and a rivalry with a smartass critic. (This is long before Billy and a companion are transformed into sex demon wolf things, mind you). It’s imaginative in some ways, but a plethora of deus ex machina tricks reveal that there’s not much heavy lifting going on behind the curtain.
Exactly the sort of novel a literary blogger would write. Proceed with caution.