Sunday, December 13, 2015

ARC Review: Scrudge & Barley, Inc. by John Inman

Scrudge & Barley, Inc.

A classic tale takes off in sexy new directions! Poor Mr. Dickens must be twirling in his grave.

When E.B. Scrudge, putz extraordinaire and all-around numbnuts, is visited by his dead ex on Christmas Eve, he can’t imagine how his life could sink any lower. But the three ghostly spirits that come along after are even worse! Good lord, a dyke, a drag queen, and rounding out the trio, a big, hunky bear with nipple rings and a butt plug! What’s next?

What’s next is a good deal of soul-searching and some hard lessons learned with a dash of redemption thrown in for good measure.

And love too, believe it or not. Love that had been simmering all along at the heart of Scrudge’s miserable existence, although he was too selfish to see it—until a trio of holiday beasties pointed his sorry ass in the right direction.

My rating:

Super adorable and funny re-imagining of A Christmas Carol, with a cold and heartless Mr. Scrudge (Scrooge), aptly described in the blurb as a putz extraordinaire, a callous man, who uses people, disdains everything and everyone, fucks his assistant for his own pleasure, and cares nothing for anyone but himself. When we first meet him, it's Christmas Eve, and E.B. is in his office, finalizing the pink slips for the employees who'll be let go after Christmas, and rubbing his hands at how much money he'll save by not having to pay their salaries anymore.

Putz extraordinaire. Actually, he's more than a putz. He's portrayed as a despicable human being, and I hated him on sight. There seemed nothing redeemable in him, and I couldn't wait for him to get his comeuppance.

E.B. Scrudge has no heart. None at all.

Until that Christmas Eve, when he's lying in bed in his huge apartment at the very top of his office building and is visited by the ghost of his dead lover/partner, Mr. Barley, who warns him of the fires of hell that await him if he doesn't change his ways.

E.B. Scrudge, or Ebbie, as not many dare call him, is then visited first by a very butch lesbian who takes him to Christmases past, where E.B. has to relive that which shaped him into the heartless man he is. Next, a hunky bear with a buttplug takes him to Christmas present, where E.B. has to see with his own eyes how those he disregarded are suffering, and finally, a drag queen dressed all in white takes him to Christmas future, where he is faced with his own demise. With snark and his usual humorous zingers, John Inman takes his character on a journey of truth, realizations, and redemption, perfectly rounded out by a sweet scene at the end, where Ebbie pulls his head out of his ass and tears down the walls he's built around his heart. Yeah, I cried. I'm not ashamed. It was beautiful.

While this isn't the first retelling of the well-known story in my library, it's probably one of the best I've read, especially due to the unique and unexpected characters that take Ebbie on his journey. Talk about a twisted tale!

And yet, it's a lovely, lovely book; one that made me chuckle and tear up in equal measures. Well done, John.

** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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