I admit, I was sceptical to see a comedy in my pile for SPFBO8 as it’s not my usual preference nevertheless I did enjoy Jowsey Jones’ offering as a timely, light-hearted break from reality. Blazing Coffins follows twins Theda and Wolfie, who happen to be monstrosities - preferred term - living with their Uncle running a family funeral business, in a very Addams Family or Munsters-reminiscent set up. At the outset however, they don’t remember that they’re magical, or that their Uncle is too, or that their parents are alive. That is until they meet Greeny, an ancient living tree being, who un-hexes the family and brings them back to their true nature and restores their memories.
What follows is a madcap rescue mission to save the twins’ parents who had been held prisoner by their ex-stageshow partner as he syphons off their magic to create a potion to help him achieve greatness. There are a whole host of different cryptids and characters from magical lore who feature in Blazing Coffins, which adds a little extra fun layer as you recognise them.
Quiet charm aside, there were a couple of drawbacks for me. At the start of the novel, it wasn’t always entirely clear where we were, what was going on or why it was relevant in the chapters away from the twins. Some overly florid language at times added to my confusion, and raised the occasional eyebrow. The flashback scenes were full of anachronisms but as it’s a comedy, I gave it a pass.
I was a touch disappointed at a homophobic slur dropped in near the end by a law-enforcement type and, while that might be realistic, it didn’t really add anything to the dialogue. There are some depictions of Native Americans, albeit an entirely made-up (I assume) people, that as a non-American I can’t truly comment if it’s inappropriate or not; only that it made me question if it was in the use of some stereotypes. While it is a firmly tongue-in-cheek book, I feel like it’s still important to let you know what else you may find inside.
In the end, this is not a bad book. Some of the descriptive language could do with tightening up and dropping the F-slur, for sure, but behind that the story itself is engaging. The characters aren’t especially deep but the fast tempo doesn’t allow for long exposition. Sticking together as a family, as a group where you fit in, and looking out for each other is the key underlying theme to pull out of Blazing Coffins. As a debut novel, it shows promise and if you were ever a fan of The Munsters, it may be up your alley.