Pigeonwings by Heide Goody & Iain Grant
Please note Pigeonwings is a direct sequel to the events in Clovenhoof. I would advise reading book one before losing yourself in the chaotic nonsense that is book two. Oh, and this review might contain spoilers if you haven’t read book one.
As punishment for his part in an attempted coup in Heaven, the Archangel Michael is banished to Earth. The holiest of the angelic host has to learn to live as a mortal, not an easy job when you’ve got Satan as a next-door neighbour.
Michael soon finds that being a good person involves more than helping out at Sunday school and attending church coffee mornings. He has to find his purpose in life, deal with earthly temptations and solve a mystery involving some unusual monks and a jar of very dangerous jam.
I’m still firmly of the belief that writing a genuinely funny story is the darkest of arts. Deciding what’s funny can be such a subjective thing. Writing something that is will appeal to multiple readers strikes me as almost impossible. The good news is that there are still those that attempt this feat. The even better news is that there are some who succeed. Heidi Goody and Iain Grant managed just that with their first collaboration, Clovenhoof. Now they are back for more and once again they have hit the nail squarely on the head.
In his own unique turn of phrase, Jeremy Clovenhoof is “cool, sophisticated and suave as buggery“. With a sartorial elegance all of his own, Bermuda shorts, cravat and smoking jacket anyone? He cuts a fashionable dash through the suburbs of Sutton Coldfield.
Clovenhoof remains a force of nature. Doing whatever he likes, pretty much whenever he likes, and often getting away with it. He engineers situations with a perverse sense of glee just to see what the outcome will be. He is such a charmer though, that it’s difficult not to warm to his particular brand of chaos. He delights in playing tricks on everyone. In all honesty, for the Angel of Abyss, most of his pranks are never really that evil. Put it this way, not that many people die, they just tend to get horribly embarrassed. I was glad to see that, like its predecessor, Pigeonwings retains its terribly civilised British sense of humor.
New to the human realm, the archangel Michael is constantly confused by what it means to be alive. His sense of horror at the most basic of human functions are a joy to behold. Clovenhoof, enthusiastic as ever, is on hand to help hinder Michael at every turn.
Ben and Nerys, both featured in book one, also return. Ben finally finds love, after a fashion, and Nerys reconnects with her estranged family. There are also a group of secretive monks who are up to a number of slightly dubious schemes. Just why is their monastery so darned important? Amidst all this nonsensical drama, Clovenhoof and Michael attempt to unravel the mysteries of the universe and understand the human condition normally using copious amounts of alcohol.
Goody and Grant are obviously having a blast with this series and it’s evident in their collaboration. There are a plethora of absurdly silly moments, more than a few that made me laugh out loud. There are also some other, subtler gags that made me smile. Clovenhoof’s relationship with modern technology, or lack thereof, is a running joke that works well; his delight at owning his first mobile phone is particularly amusing.
Nothing is ever taken too seriously and this keeps this moving along in an entertaining fashion. When using organized religion as one of key plot points there is always the danger that things could get a trifle heavy. It would be a shame to get bogged in theological doctrine and happily both authors avoid that trap. The deepest theological questions you will find in Pigeonwings is “If God made Adam and Eve, why are they always pictured with belly buttons?”.
It’s always a pleasure when you’re reading takes you off the beaten track and you discover a hidden independent gem like this. Pigeonwings is a hoot. The characters are wonderfully observed and range from the wryly amusing, Michael, to the downright anarchic Clovenhoof. Who knew that modern life could cause so much distress for an angel and the Devil? Think ‘The Odd Couple’ on steroids, and you’re about half way there.
Pigeonwings is published by Pigeon Park Press and is available now. Read Clovenhoof first and then check this out.