cover image The Weirdness

The Weirdness

Jeremy P. Bushnell. Melville (Random, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-61219-315-1

In Bushnell’s debut, sad-sack aspiring Brooklyn-based writer Billy Ridgeway seems to have hit a rut: he’s lost his girl, a local literary critic just panned his writing, and his roommate has suddenly disappeared. Bantering with Anil, his best bud and a coworker at the sandwich counter where he works, seems to be Billy’s only solace throughout the day. But everything changes when the Devil shows up at Billy’s apartment with a seemingly benign request. Fuming at his literary rival Anton Cirrus, desperate for a book deal to impress his girlfriend, Billy allows temptation to get the better of him and sets off on a supernatural romp into Manhattan to locate the Neko of Infinite Equilibrium—a mystical toy cat stolen by a powerful warlock. The lightly philosophical, somewhat cursory plot works best when modern New York sensibilities clash with dark-magic tropes—Lucifer presenting his plan via PowerPoint, the invigorating logistics of turning into a hell-wolf, soul jurisdiction treaties signed by conflicting deities. A comedic literary thriller situated between the world of Harry Potter and the Brooklyn of Jonathan Ames, Bushnell’s debut effectively mines well-trodden terrain to unearth some dark gems. (Mar.)