Review: “Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight,” Don Bassingthwaite

Pros: Original, vivid, inspiring, and bawdy!
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

Now I’m even more addicted to storybundles, since one of them introduced me to Don Bassingthwaite’s marvelous Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight: The Derby Cavendish Stories. Derby Cavendish is… you know what? I just realized that I have no idea what he does for a living. What he does with his time, however, is fight supernatural menaces. The otherworldly has been attracted to him since St. Patrick’s Day when he was seven years old, and with his unique collection of very gay friends (yes, Derby is quite gay as well), he protects his little community from things that go bump in the night.

Things that go bump in the night include fruitcake zombies. It’s a bad thing when a fruitcake recipe requires using a particular lucky instrument, which just happens to be a huahua fertility fetish. Zombies ensue. There’s a potluck Christmas season dinner that gets quite rowdy when an evil holiday sweater enters the mix. Then there’s one of my favorite characters in this book: Aaron the fabulously gay Jewish werewolf drag-queen (better known as Miss Mitzy Knish, the original Hebrew Hot Pocket). This anthology’s tales happen in chronological order, and details and characters survive from one story to another. Things that happen in one story become crucial to the characters’ survival in another.

Bethany is Derby’s nemesis. We first see her at the Gay Hockey League Jockstrap Auction and Bake Sale, where Derby uses his knowledge of holidays to summon something to deal with her and her creepy minions. At a fundraiser for an organ, the East Sykes Ladies’ Senior Auxiliary manages to get maneuvered into accidentally invoking an orgy, requiring one of Derby’s friends to get… creative… in fixing the problem.

The moment couldn’t have been gayer if there’d been a disco soundtrack and a unicorn.

Please note that there’s some very ribald and adult-oriented humor in here! Not for kids!

The short stories wrap up with one longer novella called “Green,” a multi-holiday extravaganza that brings us back to the collection’s title of “cocktails at seven, apocalypse at eight.” Also, the huahua is back, and so are the zombies (sans fruitcake)!

The stories are oddly inspirational despite the bawdy humor of it all. The characters are fantastic, with plenty of hilarity and depth to them. The world of otherworldly creatures is built well, with a glamour that helps to keep the ordinary people from remembering the strange things that go on around them. So if you’re looking for a gay ol’ holiday read with plenty of fabulous hilarity, be sure to pick this volume up!

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