Not traditional horror fare, but nonetheless tapped from the horror-comedy vein, the first novel in Robert Rankin’s eight-book-long Ealing Trilogy (yes, you read that correct) is packed to the brim with the supernatural, as a malignant evil force in the form of a resurrected Borgia Pope vies to take over the world.
And where else for such a spirit to begin such evil acts, than in the West London suburb of Brentford. A pair of unusual miscreants in the form of beer-loving duo Jim Pooley and John Omally are quick to square up to the no-good goings on in their fair by-water, and they’re assisted by an even more chaotic and rag-tag bunch of fellow citizens.
There’s the semi-respectable Professor Slocombe, sought for his academic expertise, and high-quality contents of his liquor decanters; Neville is the part-time (read only) barman at the Flying Swan pub, which is the pair’s Shangri-La; then there’s Archibald, but maybe the less said about him the better.
This is farce propelled by the highly imaginative author’s brain cells (I can only wonder what was going on when this was written) and I found the book to be highly entertaining. Possibly some caveats should be offered for such a book involving plot threads seeded (literally) from five magic beans swapped for a clapped-out Morris Minor by its owner’s wife whilst he was working at the local rubber factory. Or a tramp who pops up out of nowhere to literally put the creepers on people before disappearing again, or the eerie Seaman’s mission, home to a dishonest proprietor keen to keep things quiet.
So it’s not your average horror novel, or supernatural one in that regards, but it does fuse those genres into a comedy outpouring, in a quasi-respectful manner, and in one with ensuing some really funny moments. There is little to be bored by here, and however farfetched it all may be, it’s a pleasant, amicable read. There is also the enticement of seven more books for those who want more of what Rankin has to offer. And no, they don’t really become any more stable or serious, but who would want them to?
Be prepared for numerous laugh-out-loud moments, an evil demonic villain with a master plan and the nuts (or seeds) to potentially carry it out. It’s got cults, menageries, drinks special offers and a outdoor BBQ with catastrophic capabilities.
If Wodehouse were to parody a typical Stephen King set-in-Maine novel, replacing the town in question with Brentford, England, and replacing the cast with something from a Carry On film, then the output might start to look something like this. Through Vaseline smeared glasses that is.