The Serpent of Venice draws on a number of classics, including The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and The Cask of Amontillado, and then adds a large helping of irreverent humor. The fool Pocket has made enemies of the merchant Antonio, senator Brabantio, and soldier Iago by opposing a war which would make them rich. In order to get Pocket out of the way, these three men invite him to a party with an assassination attempt in mind. However, Pocket is not as easy to kill as they might think and he’ll be back with revenge in mind.
This is one of those three star ratings which is really me wanting to give two stars to some parts of the story and four stars to other parts. The idea for the plot was definitely a four start bit and my favorite part of the book. The author does a great job merging the plots from the classics he references. He preserves some lines and scenes to give exciting flashes of recognition but also creates something very unique. After I got used to the author’s writing style, I also was very absorbed in the plot and felt like something exciting was always happening. The two star part of the plot was the introduction of the titular character, a mythical beast who showed up to rescue the good guys every time things were looking hopeless. I would have preferred to see the characters find solutions to more of their problems themselves.
The humor was another part of the story which was hit or miss for me. The humor involves some strong language, which I expected, but was also very focused on sex. In some cases this felt very forced and I thought it detracted from the story. Initially the swearing also pulled me out of the story, because, even knowing about it going in, it just wasn’t what I expected from a story set in historical Venice. However, as I got further into the story, I became more accustomed to the author’s writing style and sense of humor. This made the swearing much less distracting. The good part of the humor is that some if it was really funny. My favorite parts where were characters broke the fourth wall and interacted with the narrating chorus. At the end of the day,I had a lot of fun reading this and would definitely try another book by the author, especially now that I’ve gotten used to the writing style. I would recommend this to fans of creative retellings, especially those with a high tolerance for swearing and sexual innuendo.This review first published on Doing Dewey.