Mercury Champagne – Dan Goodrich

Mercury Champagne
Dan Goodrich
Erie Harbor Productions
280 pages

I do like a good occult-themed novel. I gotta say, though, that this one’s a little on the weird side. Okay, a lot on the weird side–and that’s something, coming from yours truly! This one brings in slipping through multiple layers of reality, Jack Kerouac, and the magic of cigarettes and booze. In other words, not your average novel.

The book starts off with as much disorientation as the main character, Ed Derringer, is feeling. Having lost his job and gone on a bender, he wakes up the next day to find that his world has suddenly gone very, very wrong. An “assurance agent”, John Stanford, just wants “a moment of his time” in return for giving him a ride home. And this is where the story stops being relatively straightforward, and get dropped somewhere between The Twilight zone and the Illuminatus! Trilogy.

For reasons unbeknownst to Ed–or the reader–reality shifts violently, and Ed is suddenly sputtering in a freezing cold ditch in very rural Canada. From this point on, the storyline reels like a carousel with a half-broken axis, trying desperately to gain balance again. Ed ends up in the company of a pair of sorcerors and the ghost of Kerouac, and dives into an alternate version of reality where a Moment and a Dream are the most crucial things a sorceror can work with–and John, the assurance agent, wants his Dream back at any cost, even Ed’s life.

It’s a bizarre hero’s journey, quite worth reading. Be aware that this book may be really tough to get into because the first third of it is incredibly strange, and the background information is lacking. However, hang in there–it’s well worth it. I will say that the book doesn’t make sense until the last fifty pages or so, which makes this a good book for re-reading later on. But it was sufficiently interesting to keep my attention all the way through the first read over a two-day period.

If you want an original novel and don’t mind feeling a bit shaken up as you go along, then Mercury Champagne is a good choice. Personally, I’m hoping for a sequel, because I really appreciated how Ed developed over the course of the book, and I’d love to see where he goes next–and I don’t say that about a lot of characters. Goodrich has created a modern mythology out of his world, and more exploration would be lovely. On the other hand, even as a standalone novel, this is a superb read.

Five pawprints out of five.

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