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PRACTICAL DEMONKEEPING: A Comedy of Horrors Hardcover – January, 1992

4.3 out of 5 stars 285 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Pine Cove Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A people-eating demon threatens a sleepy California resort town in Moore's offbeat, witty debut.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Good-natured, often funny, but excessively complicated tale that matches a people-eating demon against his reluctant master and the citizens of a small California town. First-novelist Moore throws in more plot twists than the Pacific Coast highway has curves. He obviously knows and is amused by the flawed but feisty denizens with which he inhabits Pine Grove, south of the Big Sur wilderness area. To this tourist town comes Travis O'Hearn, a 20-year-old who, 70 years before, got saddled with a demon, Catch, who gave him eternal youth plus problems. Catch is sometimes under Travis's control but often not, particularly when he's hungry. Travis wants out, namely by finding an incantation that will return the demon to Hell. On Travis's side are the King of the Djinns and August Brine, Pine Grove's purveyor of bait, tackle, and fine wines. Others who swell the cast past overflowing include waitress Jenny and her estranged, alcoholic husband Robert; tough old Mavis, who owns the Head of the Slug bar (it had been Head of the Wolf until animal-rights activists leaned on her); retired woodcarving codger Effrom and his wife Amanda; hotel night auditor Billy Winston, who flirts with other males by computer modem while wearing red silk panties; once-battered Rachael, who runs a coven to empower women through worship of the Goddess; and Detective Sergeant Alfonse Rivera, who fears he will end up bagging microwave burritos at a 7-Eleven unless he nails down a case. The author's youthful high spirits, insight into small-town people, and comic brashness help to overcome the fact that too many characters jump through too many hoops with too much unnecessary hocus-pocus. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; First Edition edition (January 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312070691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312070694
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #891,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Schtinky VINE VOICE on April 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Every now and then, those of us who indulge in the most gruesome of the horror and science fiction genre must kick back, take a load off, and curl up with a well written and light hearted book that will allow us a chuckle or two.
This is the book for that moment. Relatively short (238 pages) and a very fast read, Moore's tale is not only captivating but will leave you chuckling in morbid humor. Travis O'Hearn is over ninety years old, but doesn't look a day over twenty five. This is because of his demon, Catch. Many years ago Travis unsuspectingly summoned the demon and became his Master, with one of the benefits being perpetual youth and an inability to die. Of course, the bad part is, Catch is not a nice demon, and Travis is stuck with him.
Catch likes to watch TV, read comic books, and ride on the hood of the car; but most of all he likes to eat, and people are his favorite food. All Travis wants to do is find a way to send Catch back to hell, but he doesn't have a clue as to how to go about it. The one person who holds the objects that may help him get rid of Catch is a young girl on a train, who Travis lost track seventy years ago without ever learning her name.
Which is what brings Travis and Catch to Pine Cove, a sleepy seaside tourist town. Here in Pine Cove, Moore introduces us to the townspeople; fleshing them out into fully developed personalities that you will either like or dislike, but will certainly not leave you with that dry feeling of a hastily sketched character. Moore's ability to bring all these different people to life is what makes this book such a fast and fun read; how he manages to bring these characters to life in only a few short paragraphs is the sign of a gifted writer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book isn't exactly laugh-out-loud funny. Too many people are devoured by the demon for it to be tongue-in-cheek...unless it's the demon's cheek and our tongue we're talking about here. However, "Practical Demonkeeping" is witty, shading into heavily ironic. It is blackly humorous as in the scene where the demon coughed, "...and a red spiked heel shot out of his mouth and bounced off the windshield, spattering the glass with hellish spit."
You might guess that the red high heel once belonged to a woman, but it's not that kind of novel. As a matter of fact it belonged to a motel night clerk named Billy Winston who was a transvestite from the waist down (the parts that the motel customers can't see below the counter). Most of Moore's characters have some redeeming characteristics, even the scum-bag drug dealers and pool sharks, and I was really sorry when the demon ate Billy.
Even the demon whose name is Catch has his likeable moments--usually when he's reading Cookie Monster comic books and in between snacks. He also has a sense of humor, the kind of humor you'd expect from a cat toying with its next meal.
Some of the book's real humor comes from a second supernatural creature, the King of the Djinn who has been chasing after Catch ever since the glory days of King Solomon--except for a few thousand years of down time in a lead jar at the bottom of the sea. He expresses himself in phrases such as, "By Aladdin's lamplit scrotum," and "Tell us where the Seal of Solomon is hidden or we will have your genitals in a nine-speed reverse action blender.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having read "Bloodsucking Fiends" by Moore, I figured this book would be just as hilarious with a great story and interesting, memorable characters. OOPS--not so with this book.
Travis is a very old man who looks about 25 thanks to his constantly hungry companion, a demon named Catch. Through a very complex and amazing line of circumstances, the pair find themselves in the oddball town of Pine Cove, California. It's here in Pine Cove that the town witch, an elderly couple, a bait store owner, a waitress, a drunk husband, and a cafe owner with a remarkable resemblance to H.P. Lovecraft all meet up in one situation that could mean the preservation or loss of many lives. Sounds interesting, right?
As mentioned in the Kirkus Review featured at the opening screen, Moore has too many characters jumping through too many mystical hoops unnecessarily. Every single character in the book is of major importance to the overall outcome, right down to Mavis, the long-suffering barmaid from the Head of the Slug. There are no true minor characters (not even The Breeze, who vanishes almost as soon as the story begins), and this makes for a big headache. And as much as these characters interact and overlap one another, you won't be able to really feel much about any of them. I enjoy characters that make me miss them at the end of the book, and that didn't happen with this novel.
I've since learned that this was Moore's first book, but the complexity of the plot and the details don't demonstrate an author's first effort. The ending will leave you flat and asking "HUH?", but there are some truly funny moments in the book that aren't to be missed. I especially enjoyed Jenny's preparation for her date with Travis, and Robert's assessment of The Breeze's trailer.
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