Rue De La Pompe by James Earle McCracken

This book is described as a satiric urban fantasy, which is pretty accurate!  It’s also very original and a whole lot of fun.

The novels starts on the 30th birthday of everyman Michael Whyte, an American living in Paris, who is not sure how he has found himself there, and is doing a job which is never fully explained (either to Michael or the reader).

Longing for a bit of excitement in his life, Michael soon learns that you should be careful what you wish for.  On what he thought was going to be just another ordinary, forgettable birthday, Michael receives a tuxedo from an unknown benefactor, and an invitation to a party at his eccentric (to say the least) neighbours’ apartment.

Michael soon finds himself on a quest which takes him through a Paris which will be completely unfamiliar to anyone who has ever visited the city.  His task is to find the very first French franc coin.  Along his journey, he is aided by a deaf mute, an friendly epistomologist and a beautiful but enigmatic French lady.  He find himself involved in ten day long feasts, pursued by a crazy concierge, meeting flatulent statues and talking sculptures, and facing danger almost wherever he turns.  Michael also has a running inner monologue (voiced by several facets of his personality), which is very amusing.

If you don’t like fantasy, I would not recommend this book.  But if it’s a genre that you enjoy, I would strongly recommend it.  I laughed out loud on several occasions, and will definitely look out for further works by this author (this is his debut novel, but hopefully it won’t be long until he writes another).

The only thing that I found a little bit of a let down was the downbeat ending, which did not seem to resonate with the tone of the rest of the book.  However, all in all this was a very very good read.

Published by: iUniverse (www.iUniverse.com)

ISBN: 9780595485055

Price: (12th Oct 2008) £9.00 paperback, £14.00 hardback (Amazon.co.uk)

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