Tripping (& Clucking) the Light Fantastic into the Weird
When times are lean, everyone has to make some tough choices. Do you not pay the bills, and let your family go hungry... or do you suck it up and take whatever little jobs you can find to stay afloat? (That’s a no-brainer, right?)
Bounty hunter Kelly Driscoll has been facing the same prospects, now that her work has slowed way down, and the fact that the bounties she tracks down are all escaped monsters--think weird, creepy things you never, ever want to encounter--makes no difference; broke is broke. But, when something that started out seeming like a small job turns into something a whole lot bigger, well... that’s when Kelly has to put her big-girl panties on, in Nina Post‘s whimsically-wild and wacky tale, The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse.
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If nothing else, life is rarely boring in the less-than-melodiously-named Pothole City, where Kelly Driscoll has been eking out a modest living for the past several years. With its mix of old buildings and new construction--along with those pesky potholes (some large enough to swallow whole cars!) everywhere you turn--the city is the sort of place that attracts a wide variety of inhabitants (many of whom she’s successfully nabbed in her line of work).
The only thing Kelly refuses to do is catch vampires (which is unfortunate, since being a vampire hunter is the new “in” thing, and consequently, a big reason why her own business is down). Still, a girl has to choose what lines she will and won’t cross... and that’s where she draws the line.
So, when an impeccably-suited fellow drops in on her (literally) in the middle of a case--rapelling down the side of the building she’s acting as a window washer on (to spy on apartments trying to locate a stolen painting)--and nervously explains that he needs her help on a job (one that doesn’t involve any nosferatu, thank goodness), the answer is an easy-enough “yes”.
Turns out he isn’t her new client, however, but a go-between whose reclusive boss--Don, the Destroying Angel of the Apocalypse (yep, you read that right)--can’t be bothered with such trivial things, but no matter, because the money’s good. The job? Locating one of Don’s rivals, who’s been causing all sorts of problems in Amenity Tower (“Pothole City’s Finest Luxury Condominiums”), the building Kelly was just hanging from, as it happens. She has two days to find and subdue the guy--although no one knows what name he’s using or what he looks like now. (There’s always a catch, isn’t there?)
Naturally, it turns out there’s a little more to the job than it first sounded like (as though that wasn’t already enough). Amenity Tower isn’t just any luxury condo building (nice as it is) boasting 500 fabulous units; it also happens to be chock-full of fallen and cast-out angels, currently inhabiting human bodies, and all bound to the building (as in, can’t-leave-no-matter-how-much-they-want-to-do-so) as punishment. And, during the same two-day window in which Kelly’s supposed to find the missing miscreant, all those other angels will be trying to figure out how to escape from Amenity Tower (so they can then go forth and wreak havoc, destruction, chaos, and The Works, once more). Yikes.
Murray gives Kelly a little help... of sorts. There are special-purpose angels (SP’s, for short) in charge of overseeing specific tasks (one returns small birds to their owners, for instance, and another guards bicyclists)--and Kelly has one, and then, more than one, as they seem to multiply--at her service. (The fact that they’re inordinately fond of a particular brand of snack food--Cluck Snacks, in all their myriad flavors--features humorously in how she eventually figures out how to use her merry little band of SP’s.)
Meanwhile, a group of some of those most-powerful fallen and cast-out angels have been holding regular (daily) board meetings at Amenity Tower. Their primary goal (along with making sure the luxury gym is kept up-to-snuff, pizza deliveries are arranged, etc.)? Discovering precisely how and when to escape their horrible bondage (at “Pothole City’s Finest Luxury Condominiums”, don’t forget), so they can return to their higher purpose, running amok and causing all manner of mayhem.
Things get a little murky, though, when Kelly actually meets one of those über-powerful fallens, the movie-star handsome Af... fitness aficionado, lover of gadgets (and of photographing them), and committed writer (presently working on a little something he’s calling “The Fallen Angel’s Survival Guide: Your Ultimate Handbook for a Bound Lifestyle”). He’s nice, interesting, and normal... and in no hurry to leave Amenity Tower (unlike the more-vocal members of the condo board).
With Af’s assistance from inside the walls of his “prison” at Amenity Tower, and the help of an ever-growing number of happy, snack-food-gobbling SP’s on the outside, Kelly races to beat the deadline (while unburying a couple of nasty surprises from her past) and stop the coming apocalypse. The fate of the world is all in a day's work (or so she hopes).
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The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse is the real deal, a true original. Yes, Post has penned an urban fantasy... but she’s done it as a broad (and singularly-clever) satire. It’s surreal and hilarious, bizarre yet surprisingly relevant, and even has an unexpected core of sweetness (lying buried in a cavernous pothole beneath mounds of various Cluck Snacks wrappers, of course).
In short, this one’s a wildly-imaginative and loopy lark... and if you’ve got the right (seriously off-kilter, possibly-certifiable) sense of humor, it’s one humongous heap o‘ fun. :D
GlamKitty Catnip Mousie Rating: 4 out of 5 Blissfully-Zonked-out-on-'Nip Mousies