I can’t say I usually go for comedy-infused horror (there are, of course, exceptions) but Sophie Queen’s Riley’s Excellent and not-at-all Fake Exorcism Service won me over.
Besides the black comedy masterfully interwoven throughout the narrative, the biggest draw of this story for me was the characters – more specifically, their flaws. Good ol’ Riley, the protagonist, is a failed writer on the verge of an alcohol problem, with a crass, cynical view of the world to top it all off. But, as with the very best flawed characters, Riley has a tender side which is revealed at just the right times, and just the right amount. To say we care for the character is an obvious, yet accurate statement.
Sophie achieves a consistency and coherence of tone whereby the book really works as a whole, as opposed to having comedic elements shoe-horned in for the sake of it. The laughs are an integral part of the story’s mechanics, which is maybe why this particular horror-comedy works so completely for me.
Riley’s Excellent and not-at-all Fake Exorcism Service is a novel that knows what it wants to be, and makes no apologies for it. You will laugh, you will give a shit about Riley, and you’ll sure as hell wish you had a demon sidekick.
Nice work, Sophie!