Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse: Review

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse is an epic title. That would be why this book jumped off the shelf at the library, into my hand, and insisted that I needed to take it home with me. Which I did. Sadly, the book did not quite live up to its epic title. The book is good. The book is funny--as I expected it to be. But it's not that good. And it's not that funny. There are places in it where I am sure there are jokes and I'd get that feeling that I was supposed to laugh--like Robert Rankin had paused expectantly waiting for the audience to provide the laugh track. But then I'd be like Sherman in the Mr. Peabody & Sherman movie (which we just saw at the drive-in last Saturday) and I'd look up and think to myself I don't get it.

Rankin has created an interesting premise. A young man named Jack is on his way to the big city to seek his fortune--he's heard stories that that's where all the fortunes to be made are made. But when he gets there, all is not as glamorous as he's been given to believe. First off, the "big city" is really Toy City (aka Toy Town). Everybody is a toy except for the rich and famous nursery rhyme characters like Little Miss Muffet and Little Tommy Tucker and Ole King Cole, etc. And there is a serial killer loose who is knocking off the Mother Goose celebrities one by one in rather gruesome methods based on their rhymes. The Toy City police are stumped and Bill Winkie, a Private Eye who has starred in his own series of crime novels, has mysteriously vanished.

Jack runs into Winkie's sidekick, Eddie Bear, and Eddie convinces him to partner with him to solve the murders and collect a fabulous reward. Because you know, Eddie was the real sawdust--er, brains behind the P.I. business. Eddie leads Jack into underage drinking, high-speed car chases, in and out of jail, and into encounters with mysterious spider women. There will be quite a few more deaths and some high-tension drama before Eddie and Jack can find out who's really behind the nursery rhyme murders.

The book is a fantasy-style riff on the noir genre and private eyes in general. It is very self-aware and that is part of the fun. Jack and Eddie discuss how "if this were one of Bill Winkie's private eye books" then "we'd have met all the important characters by now" or "we'd have gotten hold of the MacGuffin by now." They also talk about whether or not the decisions they make along the way would be what a true detective in a crime novel would do. Lots of in jokes (and, as discussed, plenty that go right over my head) and plays off of the nursery rhymes. Excellent premise that manages to fall just short of being a fantastic story. Good solid entertainment, but not extraordinary. ★★★


It's a wise man who knows where he is. And if he knows where he is, he should stay there, don't you agree? (p. 22)

Things really could be worse. You'll be okay. I can direct you to the hospital if you think you need your head bandaged. Or I'll stagger with you, if you want. Or you can carry me upside down and I'll sing you drunken songs. I know some really rude ones. They're all about pigs and penguins. (~Eddie [Bill Winkie's bear], p. 27

It is a fact well known to those who know it well that we can only know what we personally experience. Above and beyond that, it's all just guesswork and conjecture. (p 72)


Anonymous said...

That is an AWESOME title! Sad it didn't live up to expectations, but not too surprising.

Anonymous said...

That title does set the bar pretty high. Still, sounds like fun. I think it would make me hungry though.

fredamans said...

It looks like it would be a riot to read. Sad it falls a little short. Great review!

J F Norris said...

I tried to read this several years ago, but I think you have to be in the right frame of mind for this kind of silliness. I wasn't and I hated it. Reminded me too much of Jasper Fforde on a bad day. Never went back to Rankin though you'd think I'd love these books. These kind of silly parody homages must be a lot of fun to write, but sometimes they produce more eyeball rolling than laughing from me.

Bev Hankins said...

John: You never cease to amaze me. I think you really have read all the things or at least tried one of all the things by all the peoples. I've got something up my sleeve for later....we'll see if you've read it too. :-)

And you're right--you do have to be in the right frame of mind for this. I was apparently just a little over half-way there.

Anonymous said...

I do like Rankin (he wrote a while trilogy set in in the part of West London where I live for starters) - shame about this one but as you say, an endearingly daffy title is hard to resist!