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Soul Purpose

by Nick Marsh

(Immanion Press, £13.99, 271 pages, trade paperback, published 2006.)

Review by John Toon

cover scanIt shouldn't happen to a vet. Alan Reece, human wreck, is called out one night in late December to tend to a pregnant cow, but the calf is born transparent. This is but the first in a global outbreak of transparent births, and Alan finds himself at the centre of the oncoming apocalypse. It's just him, his paranormal journalist housemate George, Kate the psychic particle physicist, and the voices in Alan's head.

Oh, how this book wants to have been written by Douglas Adams. It's trying so hard for that Hitch Hiker's vibe, from the one-scene comedy aliens to the anthropomorphic glass of sherry that eyes its drinker nervously and screams on the way down. Actually, it reminds me not a little of that book about exploding sheep from a few years ago. It's not a very bad book, it's just not a brilliant book either. The prologue is terrible; the epilogue is surprisingly good; in between it averages out.

The story is relatively straightforward, once you prune away the comedy digressions and the hanging about. An evil Crowley-esque magician has found a way of surviving in the afterlife, and is hoovering up all the souls he can to power his return to the material world. Alan and friends have to find this out, work out how Alan's invisible calf and Kate's particle accelerator fit in, and stop it from happening. Add the words "knockabout caper" and you should have the measure of this book.

This isn't the first metaphysical comedy adventure book I've read this year, so possibly it's arrived at the right time to take advantage of a trend of some sort. However, "memorable" and "original" are two words I can't, in all sincerity, use to describe it.


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