The great comic novelist and book lover Noah Goats once told me, “Books lead on to books, and sometimes in strange ways. They all seem to be connected somehow.” This is a good example. After reading T.J. Brown’s excellent ghost story The Last Photograph of John Buckley, I looked to see what else he had written. And the first thing that grabbed my eye was the image you see at the right.

Well, I mean, how could I resist?

As the cover suggests, this is a raunchy, bawdy comedy. Emily Spankhammer is a young, widowed Southern Belle who runs a beaver farm. And in case you are wondering if that leads to many, many Are You Being Served?-style double-entendres, why, yes, yes it does. It is that kind of book, and I’m not ashamed to say it made me laugh.

In her quest to find love, Emily is aided by her spirit guide, a wisecracking pink unicorn named Sparkle. Despite his appearance, Sparkle is, shall we say, anything but pure or nice. As he explains to Emily, he has been forced by the Ancient Greek Gods into the role of spirit guide after his decadent hedonism indirectly led to the destruction of Atlantis.

I’m not doing it justice. Let me quote Sparkle verbatim:

“This is the realm of gods and monsters, you silly woman. They don’t have moral codes in that place. If you’d spent more time watching sword-and-sandal movies, you’d know that. This is the domain of passion, of jealousy, of revenge, blood feuds, and raging hormones.”

Sparkle and Emily’s relationship is a turbulent one. Actually, all her relationships are turbulent, whether it’s with a mechanic whose home is filled with fake owls, a circus ringmaster, or a Scottish Highlander. Are you getting a sense now of what a wild story this is?

The long and short of it is, it’s a hilarious, madcap adventure. It reminded me a little of Richard Pastore’s The Devil and the Wolf and a little of Lindy Moone’s Hyperlink From HellIt’s not a coincidence that the best comparisons I can think of are indie books. This is what makes reading indie books so rewarding: these are the kind of unusual stories that publishers are too risk-averse to take a chance on, but are an absolute delight to read.

Now, I’ll admit that some readers might not see the appeal in it. If you don’t like raunchy humor, then it isn’t for you. But if you’re in the mood for a zany, somewhat off-color, fast-paced take-off of romance novels, you should give this one a try.

[Audio version of this post available below.]

“And have you a pale blue dress on?” “Jane Eyre” illustration by F.H. Townsend. Via Wikipedia

So, it seems Jane Eyre is being re-written as a trashy romance novel.  Or should I say, a trashy romance novel for our time; as I believe the original Jane Eyre was a trashy romance novel by Victorian standards, as indeed are all books that are any good.  But times change, and audiences seem to go less and less for subtlety.

The author of the new version, Eve Sinclair, said:

I think that readers through the ages have appreciated the smouldering sexual chemistry between Jane and Rochester and I have changed very little of Bronte’s original to retell the timeless story of a young girl falling for an unattainable older man and getting out of her depth in a sensual world she cannot control.

Well… it seems like she would have had to change rather a lot of the story, since the plot hinges on Jane not wanting to, ah, “live as Rochester’s wife” without actually being Rochester’s wife.  And that only happens at the end of the book.  And if she didn’t change it much, then… what was the point of this again?

You know, I think this is the same problem I complain about in the horror genre: nothing gets left to the reader’s imagination anymore.