Book Talk: *The Stupidest Angel*, by Christopher Moore

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher MooreThe Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
Christopher Moore (blog)
William Morrow (2004), Edition: 1st, Hardcover (ISBN 0060590254 / 9780060590253)
Fiction, 288 pages
Source: Personal/purchased copy
Reason for reading: Seasonally appropriate re-read (not previously reviewed)
Note: There’s a second edition of this novel available with a new chapter added (ISBN: 0060842350) – that’s not the edition I have.

Opening Lines:Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe.

“Pine Cove, her pseudo-Tudor architecture all tarted up in holiday quaintage — twinkle lights in all the trees along Cypress Street, fake snow blown into the corner of every shop’s windows, miniature Santas and giant candles hovering illuminated beneath every streetlight — opened to the droves of tourists from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Central Valley searching for a truly meaningful moment of Christmas commerce. Pine Cove, sleepy California coastal village — a toy town, really, with more art galleries than gas stations, more wine-tasting rooms than hardware stores — lay there, as inviting as a drunken prom queen, as Christmas loomed, only five days away.”

Book Description, via the author’s website: ‘Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit.

But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he’s not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn’t run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead.

But hold on! There’s an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It’s none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel’s not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say “Kris Kringle,” he’s botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen.
Comments: If the dead rise up again at the end of the world, do we have any guarantee that they’re not going to be zombies? Let’s just hope the Archangel Raziel isn’t in charge of that – he’s easy on the eyes, but not so much in the brains department, so it’s best that he not be given any important jobs. And the “not so much in the brains department” thing would make him pretty useless as zombie food….

Raziel – previously introduced in Christopher Moore’s Lamb – is the title character of The Stupidest Angel, but he doesn’t actually appear very often in the novel. He does make an impact when he shows up, though.

This seriously funny short novel is one of my favorites by the author, partly because it’s a greatest-hits collection of characters – including one I’m especially fond of, “geek in a cool guy’s body” Tucker Case – and a return to the setting of his earliest books, the postcard-pretty Central Coast town of Pine Cove. But like many postcard-pretty small towns, it’s occupied by some less-than-pretty people. Pine Cove’s notable residents include a former B-movie actress best known for her “Warrior Babe” character – she may lapse on her anti-psychotic meds, but she keeps up her martial arts training; her husband, the pot-smoking town constable; and, of course, the evil developer. When said evil developer has an unfortunate mishap during a disagreement with his ex-wife after a Christmas party, and a small boy accidentally witnesses said mishap, events are set in motion for the weirdest, scariest holiday this town – which has seen a lot of weird, scary stuff – has ever had.

I keep my copy of The Stupidest Angel with our Christmas decorations; I put it out, along with several other holiday-themed books, every year. I decided that this year it wouldn’t just go on display, though – it was time for a re-read. There’s not a lot of substance here; while novels like Lamb and Fluke (and even, to some extent, A Dirty Job) show that Moore does sometimes weave bigger themes into his fiction, this one’s just good, quirky fun – a fast and frequently laugh-out-loud funny read. If there’s any lesson here, it’s a twist on “be careful what you wish for:”

“Be careful to tell your wish to someone who won’t misunderstand what you’re wishing for, or else your Christmas miracle could go very, very, wrong.”

Rating: 3.75/5
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