LitStack Recs: Barbarian Days & Pride’s Spell

Pride’s Spell by Matt Wallacespell

With Pride’s Spell being the third installment in Matt Wallace’s Sin du Jour series (about a paranormal catering company based in Long Island), I thought I had it pretty much figured out. And yes, basically, I did: sacrilegious, fast paced, hilarious. But this novella ended up surprising me.

The first book in the series, Envy of Angels, was profane, outrageous and uproariously funny. Lustlocked, the second book, was lewd, outrageous, and uproariously funny. After dealing with demons and goblins, I was ready for more raucous laughter and ribaldry. And I wasn’t disappointed.

But in Pride’s Spell, Matt Wallace does something amazing. He actually goes deeper into the characters we have gotten to know, without sacrificing any of the smack and sass we’ve come to expect. And then, he adds in something different.
In Pride’s Spell, the company is hired to cater a Hollywood film premiere. It’s a pretty straightforward affair – actually almost mundane: no fancy, bizarre menu items, no overtly supernatural clientele. The only strange thing is why Bronko Luck’s crew is catering the gig in the first place – after all, there are plenty of catering companies in LA that would do a fine job, but the powers that be insist that Sin du Jour (and its growing reputation) be the ones to prepare and serve the culinary fare. So, a small team from Sin du Jour head out to LaLaLand, while the rest stay behind to keep the home base running (and to grumble about being left behind).

Of course, nothing goes as planned or expected, both in New York and Hollywood, but this time, it is the folks who usually are most tuned in to the bizarre and strange who are caught off guard. While chaos descends back on Long Island, Bronko and his team find out their involvement with the premiere menu is far deeper than the squash fritters, tuna medallions and garlic eggplant skewers being served. Far deeper, and far, far darker.

And then there’s the killer Easter bunny…

Yes, this story is weird, and wild, and hilarious, just like the others. There are bodily threats and bawdy circumstances that set up those threats. But in Pride’s Spell, we get something else: terror. Not just cheeky horror, but honest to goodness, squirmy stuff that’s downright frightening. Not so much that it changes the framework of the series, but enough that the tone goes decidedly dark – and it’s marvelous. Truly what is needed to keep the series from becoming a flippant bit of genre fluff.

I just found out that Matt Wallace has been commissioned to write three more Sin du Jour books for Tor, and that was great news. I’ve really, really enjoyed this series, and I’m looking forward to finding out where Bronko and crew go next. Wherever it is, no matter how deep, how dark, or how irreverent, I’m sure it will be somewhat creepy, somewhat profane, and a whole ‘lotta fun.

—Sharon Browning

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