cover image Minions of the Moon

Minions of the Moon

Richard Bowes. Tor Books, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86566-5

Life can be brutal for a boy growing up on the streets of Boston at mid-century, especially if he's gay and his mother's crazy, and particularly if he's haunted by a doppleganger, a phantom double. Kevin Grierson grew to adulthood in a tough Irish-American family with uncles who were prone to beat him up for his own good. Making it through college and moving to New York, Kevin tries unsuccessfully to balance a career writing advertising copy with a secret existence centered on drugs, alcohol and promiscuous, tawdry, often dangerous sex. His doppleganger lurks constantly in the background, manifesting itself whenever Kevin gets in trouble, giving him bad advice, hijacking his body for his own ends whenever he's too drunk or too stoned to resist. As the years go by, Kevin lives from one crisis to the next, struggling constantly with both his double and his addictions. Then he discovers that he's not alone. There are other people with supernatural powers in the world, and some of them aren't very nice. Worse still, there's a mysterious group called the Sojourners who seem interested in collecting Kevin and his double for their own secret, presumably unwholesome, purposes. In his first novel in 10 years, Bowes (Feral Cell) has produced a well-written and unusually gritty urban fantasy of a sort likely to appeal to fans of the work of Charles de Lint. Although the novel takes place over a period of decades, there isn't really much plot here. Grierson, however, is a fascinating character whose life consists of a series of small, grim and involving urban adventures. (Feb.)