In a nutshell
A.E.Moorat is the pseudonym of author Andrew Holmes whose first novel, Sleb, was shortlisted for the 2002 WHSmith New Talent Award in the UK. His other novels are All Fur Coat, 64 Clarke, and Rain Dogs and Love Cats, all of them dark, funny thrillers which were critically well received in the UK. In Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter, A.E.Moorat had successfully weaved an entertaining historical gothic horror (a genre that he loves) and dark comedy (he started out as a comic writer). The book is best summed up in two words: Bloody funny (Mind the pun).
When young Victoria was crowned Queen of England, she was expected to protect her country, especially from demons who were instructed by the dark one to remain on earth and spread evil. The protective Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne had warned her not to trust anyone because these demons could take on the human form and there had been incidences of dogs turning on their owners, mothers killing babies and husbands killing wives. So does this mean she couldn’t and shouldn’t trust Lord Melbourne? What about her husband who had been kidnapped by demons? Was it really the demons’ intention to kidnap him or were they using him as bait to lure her into captivity? She knew she had to make a choice – to save her beloved Prince Albert or her country.
What I liked
When you embark on this demon-hunting journey, be prepared for lashings of glistening entrails, deceitful succubus, vicious vampires, and ghastly decapitations that would bring you deep into the dirty and downtrodden side of 19-century England. See if you can digest the below details (Don’t worry, no spoilers):
“…. Miss Stanley, tore a significant chunk of flesh from Fanny’s throat and sat back on her haunches with her chin aloft, all the better to gulp down the still-warm meat, which she did with evident gratification, greedily licking the blood from her fingers as the last strip of skin disappeared between her lips.” (p 54).
If you’re regurgitating already, I’d suggest you stay away from this book, as it would get from bad to worst later in the story.
But, should you wish to sit in the Clarence with the Queen and be part of her adventures, bring along a bullet-proof dictionary (or be lost in some big words), swift sword skills, boxes of tissues (for the blood) and a strong heart (so you won’t puke and wince at the gory details) for you have truckloads of demons to fight off. You’d also meet characters such as the infamous Acheriders – the dead horsemen who are half-entity, half-horse, who served the Prince of Darkness; Turpin – a dog known to have killed 102 rats in 5 ½ minutes in Raticide; and Førse – the descendant of Baal, whose face can morph and change as and when he pleases.
There were a handful of likeable characters in this book. Some of my favourites were the redoubtable Mary Brown who’s the Royal Protektor and the leader of the Demon Hunters, the frivolous, debauched member of the aristocracy Quimby and his butler Perkins whose life came to an unexpected end (this book wouldn’t be complete without this funny duo!), and the wise, indefatigable, kind Queen Victoria. As many passages there were in this book that would make you wince, there were also those that would make you chuckle, mostly when Quimby and his manservant Perkins were in the picture. Quimby’s cluelessness, Perkin’s blind loyalty, coupled with their close-to-death encounters tickled me to the core. They made such a great pair, those two.
Reading this is like putting the movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events in one book. Yep, definitely not for the faint-hearted! But, if you love horror and humour, you’d be definitely entertained. It would be a good weekend read (As long as you don’t eat or drink while you’re at it), great when you’ve got time to kill, or when you got tired of reading the atrocious news in the papers and want to be away from it all, and be in touch with your sadistic self.
Be warned though, after reading this book, you’d never look at your medium-rare steak the same way again.
(Please exclude this review from the Mother’s Day contest. All reviews should be the ones written BEFORE the Mother’s Day Contest)