Friday, 21 May 2010
Twisthorn Bellow by Rhys Hughes
In this book the idea is a Doom Patrol or B.P.R.D. devoted to the promotion of British interests, assembled by Shylock Cherlomsky, a madman with an obsessive hatred of the French. It's at its best when the monster squad gets out and about – early episodes take place largely within the base, giving the book a more claustrophobic feel than is usual for Rhys Hughes' work. The action scenes, though sketched with a raised eyebrow, are vivid and dynamic, Twisthorn's kpinga and its "madly sprouting blades" being put to devastating use on all manner of ne'er-do-wells, including "ghouls, banshees, centaurs, abominable snowmen, warlocks, mandrakes, perytons, lamias, musicians, elves, harpies, robots, moths and sundry French things".
It's not quite as commercial as I expected – it's not at all a book where Hughes has reined himself in or tried to conform to the expectations of a wider readership – and I'm not entirely sure why that disappointed me, since I enjoyed the book all the same. This is good monster fun, with some surprising cameos, including Philip José Farmer himself and a big red fellow who has no time for Twisthorn's nonsense. I read this at about the same time as Maurice Renard's Doctor Lerne, Subgod – the first book I've read that was narrated by a table! – and how funny then to find this book narrated by... well, I won't spoil it. Though I have stood on it.
Twisthorn Bellow, Rhys Hughes. Published by Atomic Fez.