Ever feel like you world needs more devils, demons and super-heroes? I know my does, and thanks to Matthew Hughes I just got my fix. In Costume Not Included we returned to the world of Chesney Anstruther, Xaphan and The Actionary.
This sequel to The Damned Busters is a nice return to the world of Chesney. There are a bunch of subtle differences in the leap from book one to second. The first is out main character. In the first book Matthew tip-toes around Chesney’s mental state of mind. It was like a secret that if you paid attention then maybe somebody would whisper it to you. In this book he comes out and simply reveal that his hero is in fact a high-functioning autistic. Although the reason for his change in style this become clearer as the book progresses, his ‘pools of light’ device becoming a reoccurring element and it even effects the plot, I did miss the subtle approach of the previous book. In no way should this be viewed as bad writing, the book was brilliantly written, just an observation from one who liked the subtle approach from the first.
The style is not the only thing that changes about Chesney. Our main character has grown since our last book and rightfully so. He is stumbling around the idea of an ongoing and serious relationship with last book’s heroine Melda McCann. We’ve seen take a greater approach to crime fighting and the detail in his observation. Our hero is changing and for the better.
The next topic on the checklist is the theology of Hughes work. Now before I go any further I have to explain the premise of this world, it was something I was shying away from in my last review, wanting the shock to be as much of a surprise as it was for me, but there is no avoiding it this time.
In Chesney world, existence and everything in it is a book that God is writing to learn about morality. This is all fine and dandy except parts from previous ‘chapters’ and stuff that didn’t make it into this cut keep showing up.
In the previous book this was almost like a world setting instead of a plot point but in the sequel the theology take a major step up. The Book, as they call it, is front and center in this story to end the world. It affects everything from the way The Actionary fights crime to the decisions Chesney makes. Matthew doesn’t shy away from it either even going as far as introducing, and promoting him to a main cast member, Jesus Christ but one from a previous chapter of the book.
While crime fighting takes a back seat in this battle against the devil and the antichrist all while trying to stop the end of the world, it seemed like a necessary evil, even though Chesney awkward approach to fighting crime was where the previous book held its heart.
Costume Not Included is a great book and one of the must-reads in modern fantasy and superhero fiction this year.