The Weirdness, by Jeremy Bushnell

I received a free review copy of this ebook from Edelweiss, on behalf of the publishers.

18050224What would you do if the Devil showed up in your apartment and tried to make a deal with you? If you’re a sad-sack, failing writer and sandwich maker like Billy Ridgeway, you tell the Devil you want to sleep on it for a couple nights—at least until after your first publisher-sponsored reading. This may not sound like an auspicious beginning for Jeremy Bushnell’s quirky novel, The Weirdness. In Bushnell’s hands, Billy’s off-kilter life becomes a hilarious tale of a man who is such an underdog that even the other underdogs underestimate him taking on occult forces in New York.

When we meet him, Billy is on the outs with his girlfriend and terrified about an upcoming reading. Billy is a self-described coward and fuck-up. It’s hard for him to sort his life out because he thinks far too much. He lets opportunities slip through his fingers because he thinks about everything that could go wrong, second-guesses himself and his friends, and then gives it all up as a bad job. Then the Devil (the Judeo-Christian one, as Billy’s friend Anil frequently points out) turns up in Billy’s apartment. If Billy will agree to retrieve a lost artifact from hell, in this case a maneki-neko that has the power to destroy the world, the Devil will make sure Billy becomes a published author.

Of course, all of Billy’s friends think he’s finally cracked when they get him to spill the beans. It doesn’t help matters when Billy is kidnapped by a group of warlocks who swear they’re the good guys before getting his ass metaphysically handed to him by the warlock who stole the neko in the first place. The plot begins to race at this point as Bushnell puts the screws on his character and makes things even weirder for him when the Devil reveals his ulterior motives. (Because he’s the Devil, duh, as everyone is quick to point out when Billy objects.)

The Weirdness is an uproarious short novel, crackling with originality and great dialog. There are twists and turns everywhere and never a dull moment.


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