REALLY funny fantasy novels are few are far between. When they work, they work brilliantly. Robert Rankin’s Brentford Trilogy, for example, is a master class in brewing the absurd with the ordinary to conjure up a surreal world of danger, threat and, most importantly, humour.
Douglas Adams too had the knack with his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and now there’s Justin Lee Anderson, whose debut novel, Carpet Diem: Or...How to Save the World by Accident, is a gloriously quirky romp that easily challenges the great Rankin for sheer tongue in cheek originality.
Hilariously inventive, Anderson’s storytelling boasts a cast of characters straight out of some hellish heaven of an imagination.
The tale starts with a dark ending; 15 years after losing most of his family to a devastating, pudding-related tragedy, Simon Debovar has settled into a life of self-imposed exile from the stinking, selfish morass of humanity.
Content that his daily highlights will include hazelnut coffee, a long bath and the occasional jar of olives, his life is completely upturned by the discovery that his ornate living room carpet is the deciding factor in a bet between God and Satan.
When mysteriously well-timed carpet thieves deprive him of the crucial heirloom, Simon is forced to leave his hermit’s existence behind for a world of angels, demons, witches and immortals.
And then it gets complicated.
Transmogrifying beings, curvaceous teleporters, ageless witches, angels and demons, an alcoholic aunt, and a girl who randomly ‘stops’ are just some of the entrancing creations who populate the bizarre universe Anderson has sieved from his subconscious.
All join his wonderfully cowardly ‘hero’ in a quest that is quite simply a guilty pleasure from start to finish.
• Carpet Diem available now from amazon.co.uk, paperback £9.99/Kindle £1.99