Murphy's Lore : Tales from Bulfinche's Pub by Patrick Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've written this review in journal style, as I made my way through this collection of tales.
This my second time reading a Murphy's Lore volume, and it's going well.
The first story was kind of sad. Murphy's down on his luck, mourning his recently-departed wife, and trying to pay off a debt to a loanshark (taken to pay for his wife's last round of chemotherapy) by finding a leprechaun's pot of gold. That search leads him to Bulfinche's Pub, a magical bar where gods and creatures of myth and lore hang out. Paddy, the leprechaun who invested his pot of gold in Bulfinche, helps Murphy settle his debt, and to find purpose after his wife's death. This is how Murphy became a bartender at Bulfinche's. That helped me to come to the realization that my first read in this series, Murphy's Lore: Through the Drinking Glass, was not the first book. Oh, well. Familar faces from Greek mythology include Hercules, Hermes (God of healing, messages, thieves), Dionysis (God of fornication, wine, partying), and Demeter (Goddess of nature and the seasons). Hercules is the bouncer at Bulfinche's, mind you. Great timing for St. Patty's Day, which is tomorrow. Loved this story! 4.5 stars.
It took me a few tries to read this story. I kept getting distracted, but it's hard to read at work. Despite growing up on Bozo The Clown, I am not a clown fan. Maybe that's part of my lessened interest in this story. The parts with the abandoned kids watched over by the denizens of the bar were touching, and I admit that the ex-clown who became paralyzed in his last trapeze stunt and lost his mojo (only to regain it with the magic of friends and Bulfinche's Pub) did appeal to my admittedly sappy nature. The seltzer water and whipped cream fight was cute. 3.5 stars.
A little bit on the horrific side. What if socks are cannibalistic to each other, and that's why you always come up missing one of a pair after you wash and dry them? That was one of numerous theories suggested. Perhaps it's true. The mysterious customer who comes in on a winter night without socks insists he's on the run from said cannibalistic socks. When the employees at Bulfinche's don't believe him, it has drastic consequences. Well, it certainly was a unique story. 4 stars.
2 VS. Love
Poor Hermes takes an epic journey with a busybody woman who's determined to make her daughter fall in love with her platonic friend, by means of a plea to Cupid for his assistance. Guess where Cupid can be found? Niagra Falls. Where else. This one was a bit dry, but it had some funny moments. I haven't read too much fiction with Cupid, so that was cool. Poor Cupid must take the form of a baby, diaper included, on February 14th to harness the power of belief to its fullest potential. Imagine that for an ancient god? 3.5 stars.
Faery-crazy lass that I am, of course I enjoyed this story about a Hunter sent to retrieve a Shapeling who refuses to return to Faerie. The Hunter runs into an old girfriend who happens to be the mother of the shapeling. What happens from there is something I will let you guess, until you read this one. 4.5 stars.
The gang at Bulfinche's take on the Stormers, a street gang, who roughed up the children that they watch over. Paddy won't stand for it, so they deal with the gang in a way that's very apropos. I thought it was hilarious how Hermes used his super-speed to bring a recogning on the thuggish bullies. There is a god of an extinct Native American tribe that comes to Bulfinche to get some manna (magic) to prevent himself from fading from existence (since no one believes in him anymore), and who turns out to be involved with the street game. I didn't expect to like this story as much as I did. 4.5 stars
This story was both creepy and sad. A vampire comes to Bulfinche, nearly fainting with hunger for blood. Murphy actually cuts his arm and gives him some of his own blood in a bizarre version of a Bloody Mary. Boy does Lucas have a sad story to tell. This tale actually gets kind of scary near the end. The end is heartbreaking, leading into then next story. This was riveting, with powerful lessons about tolerance. 5 stars.
I was fighting tears as I read this story. A beloved member of the Bulfinche family is laid to rest. The kids ask Paddy to adopt them, so they can be his official children. Short but very moving. 4.5 stars.
Jinn & Tonic
Okay, apparently I'm a huge sap. This story gave me that squinty, I'm about to cry feeling. Edgar is a businessman who lost everything he worked for, and is wandering the streets. He finds a friend, one who lives in a bottle and has the power to grant three wishes. The manner in which Edgar used one of his wishes is what sent me over the border into full-on Sapville. But it's a good feeling. 4.5 stars.
Hello I Must Be Going
This is where we first meet Joseph, the Wandering Jew. He's been cursed to walk the earth for over 2000 years, until Jesus returns, because he mocked Jesus on the way to the Cross. I personally do not see Jesus as being vengeful or lacking in self-control enough to curse someone this way. But it was an interesting story, and the compromise found for Joseph didn't show Jesus as the bad guy. 4.25 stars
The most powerful psychic in the world is a man who has been a drunk since he was about seven years old. Drinking is the only way he can be at peace and still be able to benefit from the magical respite of Bulfinche's. It will take some strong suspension of disbelief to feel okay with inducing a seven year old to be a continual drunk, in order for this story to be enjoyed. If you can get past the wrongness of that, it's pretty good. He is able to help the Bulfinche squad to make plans to save most of New York's citizenry from a tidal wave sent by vengeful god Neptune in the future. 3 stars.
Oh my goodness. This story ripped my heart out. Passover has come to Bulfinche's Pub, and the horrors of the Holocaust are relived by its survivors who come to the pub for the night. Two of which are being preyed on by Aryans, who have murdered Jews in their apartment complex already. We learn why Rebecca, a regular who lives on the streets, has chosen her life. Her past will make you want to bawl. The golem myth is showcased here in a beautiful way. This story was utterly heart-breaking, but managed to have a good ending. 5 stars.
Love and Judgement
Now this was an interesting story. What if the Antichrist and the Savior of the world (female and named Grace) fell in love. What if the Bulfinche's Pub gang was able to stop the Apocalyse through their actions and intervention in the standoff between the forces of Good and Evil? That's what this story is about. I liked this one, because I looked at it as pure fiction, although the underlying message of "Make Love, Not War," wasn't too shabby. 5 stars.
This is the epilogue to Love and Judgement, about a seraphim named Mathew, and a succubus named Rythe, who fall in love. It was delicious. The ultimate opposites attract, star-crossed lovers story. Mathew is a sweet virgin (he's an angel), and Rythe was, well, she wasn't. Ms. Thomas has quite a way with romance. Boy was I rooting for this couple. And the Bulfinche gang is there to help this couple escape from their respective bosses and find a happy ending together. 5 stars.
A Wing and a Prayer
Mathew sees a woman praying for a sign from God. He goes to her house and finds out that her son is dying from a brain tumor. He enlists the help of the Greek god of healing, Hermes, to heal the boy. This was a very nice story. I like to believe that the answers to prayers come in unconventional ways, so it found favor with me. 4 stars.
A downtrodden young woman is brought to Bulfinche's for medical assistance. Her story is very sad, but the rainbow leads her right where she need to go to find a way out of her terrible situation. There is also a spy amongst the ranks. A member of the secret watchgroup of the Catholic church out to bring Father Ryann in for consorting with godless pagans and demons, and such. Well, it turns out Paddy is good friends with the Pope, so fear not. 4.25 stars (liked the part with the girl more than the part with the watchdog).
I wasn't fond of this story. One of the regulars, who is a psychiatrist, helps a man get over his fear of heights, with some less than desirable results. It ends very abruptly. I think it was supposed to be wryly ironic. Not my cup of tea, really. 2 stars.
This story won't appeal to everyone. A werewolf falls in love with a plain old garden variety wolf, and she gives birth to his pups. But, those pups are likely to change to human form during the fool moon. So the Bulfinche's gang team up to spring his wolf family out of the Bronx Zoo. I really liked it. 5 stars.
Of Red Tape and Roses
A buttoned up, by-the-book lady from Social Services comes to investigate Bulfinche's Pub as a suitable home environment for the kids that Paddy is trying to adopt. As you can imagine, Bulfinche's is quite the crazy place, and she's about to put a wrench in the adoption. Until Dionysus, Greek god of fertility, is able to see into her heart, and what has been denied to her and made her bitter. This was a fun, and rather sexy story. 5 stars.
A demon wreaks havoc on the Bulfinche's Pub gang. All the forces of good are marshalled to help to protect Toni's (Toni was the woman in Evening's Lady) baby from being claimed by the demon as the next Antichrist. This was a scary at times, delightfully adventurous, and creepy fun tale. 5 stars.
Be Not Proud
Murphy is determined to seek out his wife in whatever afterlife she has gone to since she died. Murphy's friends team up to help him on his Dante-esque quest to find his lost love. This was a very interesting view of the afterlives of various legends and lore. 5 stars.
What a great ending to this volume of stories. Everyone and anyone from myths and legends show up on The Day (what we call Halloween) to party. This is one party I would definitely attend. Loved it. 5 stars.
Although I didn't love all the stories in this collection, the preponderance of the tales were so good that I'd give this book a five star rating. As other reviews noted, there are quite a few errors in punctuation, and a few spelling errors. It didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book, so I can't downgrade for those. I highly recommend this to fans of folklore and mythology. Leave those preconceived notions at the door, because no belief system (except Scientology) has escaped the eye of this writer. But it's all in good fun, and delivered with respect. Watch out for the liberally thrown bad puns.
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