The Everything Box: Truly, deeply, madly hilarious

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The Everything Box by Richard KadreyThe Everything Box by Richard Kadrey

With The Everything Box, Richard Kadrey has made himself at home in the territory occupied by Christopher Moore. And by “made himself at home” I mean he’s kicked in Moore’s door, settled down on the couch, drunk all the booze, eaten all the chips and reprogrammed Moore’s DVR. Now Kadrey is looking across the hall where the Pratchett and Gaiman novel Good Omens lives, and saying, “Yoo-hoo, anybody home?”

Comic novels are hard, and for some reason science fiction or fantasy comic novels are even harder. There’s something about the need for a coherent magical or scientific system, and calibrating the need for a plot that is compelling without being too dark, that adds layers of complication. Add to that the fact that comedy itself is just hard, and you have a challenge that many fine writers just can’t meet. Most of Kadrey’s novels, especially the SANDMAN SLIM series, have humor, but The Everything Box is a straight-up comic novel, and Kadrey delivers.

Shortly after the Great Flood, an angel is sent to earth with a weapon that will destroy all life on earth. God sent the angel, because God is fed up with humanity. Somehow, the angel loses the weapon (it’s a box). Fast-forward four thousand years to Los Angeles, where Coop, a thief who specializes in stealing magical artifacts, has just been ratted-out by a so-called friend. After a short stint in prison (a special, underground prison for magical and paranormal criminals) Coop is freed and made an offer he can’t refuse. The box has surfaced, and Coop must steal it.

Of course Coop isn’t the only person who wants the box. There is a government agency called the Department of Peculiar Sciences — the acronym is pronounced “Dopes;” there are two doomsday cults; there is the original angel who is still trying to carry out his mission… and there is the Stranger, who is irritated by rivers because they are just too wiggly. The story is a full-throttle heist story, full of capers, gags, double-and-triple crosses, and bake sales. Yes. Bake Sales.

Is it funny? Well, here’s a story; my husband had gone to bed and I stayed up reading. When I reached the part where Beelzebub and Leviathan first appear, I started laughing out loud. To myself. Alone.

The Wrong Dead Guy (Another Coop Heist) Hardcover – February 28, 2017 by Richard Kadrey  (Author)

Sequel

But don’t take my word for it:

…Wexford had produced so much gold so quickly that he almost bankrupted the European economy. The Inquisition leaked a false version of the formula and alchemists around the world have been trying to re-recreate the original ever since. This was how Fresca was invented. 

And:

Qaphsiel folded the map and put it in the pocket of his windbreaker. “Stealing cable can hardly be compared to the doom of mankind.”

“The cable company certainly acted like it was the end of the world,” said the old woman. “They threatened to call the police.”

And this, which might be more of an in-joke for those of us who know and love San Francisco, as Coop and his team meet in a dive bar:

“Too bad this isn’t up in San Francisco,” said Tintin. “Those tech types? They love dive bars. You could charge them twenty bucks for a can of Pabst. Call it ‘an artisanal classic.’”

Coop’s Los Angeles is a lot like that of Stark, AKA Sandman Slim, and Coop’s particular magical ability is neat. I don’t know if I’ve read another book with a character with that particular trait. For a criminal and a character who thinks of himself as a loser, Coop is a decent guy, and the team he picks is full of interesting characters.

I could be wrong about the book. Possibly, the rush of oxygen to my brain from laughing so much has impaired my judgment, but I don’t think so. The Everything Box is a flat-out good time. As you know, I am stingy with five stars. Usually five-star books are ones that have changed my world view in some way. While I really hope that’s not what’s happened here — I’d hate for my worldview to be affected by people like the followers of Caleximus — the book gets five stars for delivering on its premise so completely, and being relentlessly funny. It is truly, deeply, madly hilarious. If you like fantasy and you want to laugh, get this book and read it now.

Published April 19, 2016. Reminiscent of the edgy, offbeat humor of Chris Moore and Matt Ruff, the first entry in a whimsical, fast-paced supernatural series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim novels — a dark and humorous story involving a doomsday gizmo, a horde of baddies determined to possess its power, and a clever thief who must steal it back… again and again. 22000 B.C. A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He’s going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn’t get to do field work, and if he does well, he’s certain he’ll get a big promotion. And now it’s time…. The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word. “Crap.” 2015. A thief named Coop — a specialist in purloining magic objects — steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn’t know that his latest job could be the end of him — and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of The Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn’t just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him. It’s a doomsday device. They think… And suddenly, everyone is out to get it.

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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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5 comments

  1. I know some people who love Christopher Moore, but have been looking for something new, and your review provided the solution. Thanks, Marion!

  2. Wow, five stars from Marion!!!
    I love your first paragraph!

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