BOOK REVIEW: Idle Ingredients, by Matt Wallace
Oh, hi folks!
Sorry for the radio silence recently. I’m still alive– even got my first vaccine dose the other day, so, y’know, progress? It’s just that, in the irony of quarantine, I’ve been reading less, despite having a whole mess of free time. ‘course, a lot of it comes from the myriad other distractions I have available. So, uh, if you guys want a random blog article on the minis I’ve painted or the video games I’ve played during quarantine, lemme know.
It also doesn’t help that I’ve been reading some non-fiction lately. It’s stuff I’ve found interesting … but don’t have too terribly much to say beyond that. Aaaaand I’ve been listening to a ridiculously long audiobook that I have opinions about, but I want to finish the damn thing before I post about it.
But! As sort of a stopgap measure, I figured I wanted to do something with this blog. And, easily enough, I happened to stumble across Matt Wallace’s Idle Ingredients in a dollar bin, and here we are!
Idle Ingredients is the fourth book in Wallace’s “Sin Du Jour” series, focusing on a catering company that specializes in serving food to monsters. I read the first one awhile back, and enjoyed it, so I figured I’d give this one a go, despite not having read the intervening books. I’m a rebel, dangit.
Thing is the Sin du Jour series is kinda unique– the books (novellas, honestly) are short, about half as long as a ‘standard’ fantasy or urban fantasy novel. So where, say, a Dresden Files novel is a big punchy action movie, each Sin du Jour book reads more like an episode in an ongoing TV series. There’s fallout from the previous book, and a stinger cliffhanger at the end to lead into the next one. Thus, reading Idle Ingredients is kind of like randomly coming across a mid-season episode of some TV show you haven’t really watched before. Specifically, it’s like watching a crossover between something like Supernatural and a food show like Ugly Delicious. Which, as far as I know, Supernatural may have actually done a cooking episode– I mean, they crossed over with Scooby Doo, so nothing’s out of the question here. Incidentally, the Scooby-Doo crossover is the only episode of Supernatural I’ve sat down and watched.
But I should probably talk about the book, huh? As mentioned before, the Sin du Jour series centers on the titular Sin du Jour, a catering company that caters to fae and demigods and demons and whatnot. It’s a fun take on the Urban Fantasy genre, instead of the typical ‘gritty magic detective in a trenchcoat and/or leather pants.’ In Idle Ingredients, the company is dealing with the fallout of their last gig, only for a business-suit wearing succubus to breeze in and start mind-controlling all the dudes there for nefarious purposes. Mentioning that it’s a succubus is technically a spoiler, but Wallace isn’t exactly subtle. Then again, with a word count not even topping 60k, he doesn’t have the time to be.
And so, it falls onto the women of Sin du Jour to suss out the succubus’ evil plan, and to break her hold over the other chefs in the kitchen. Pretty straightforward, honestly. Again, like a mid-season episode of a TV show.
Ironically, even though the book’s antagonist is a succubus, Idle Ingredients never veers into paranormal romance/erotica stuff. The succubus is perfectly capable of manipulating people by keeping her clothes on, thankyouverymuch. Which isn’t to say the book’s entirely PG, either– the chefs swear … well, like chefs, after all. There’s no porn-porn in the book, but there is a little bit of food porn, with loving descriptions of the preparation of food. Part of the fun of this series, and perhaps its main reason for existing, is giving Wallace opportunities to think about the unique palates and tastes of various supernatural creatures. Like, how do you cook for a salamander, a creature made out of living fire?
Really, Idle Ingredients is kind of low-key compared to the first Sin du Jour book I read. In that one, there’s a giant immortal chicken and fast-food-zombies. And heck, the characters even mention an Evil Demon Santa that attacked in the book before this one, but Idle Ingredients is pretty low-key in comparison. Though there is an amusing bit with a stoner demon assassin, because this is a very silly book.
Idle Ingredients isn’t a great novel (novella, whatever), but it’s a fun one. I enjoyed it well enough, though I probably would have enjoyed it even more if I’d read the two books in the series prior to this one, so I had more of an idea of who the characters were, and what they’d been through. Still, it’s enough to make me want to read the rest of the books in the series– and heck, with any luck, I’ll actually read them in order.
In any case, stay tuned, Dial H For Houston readers! All the, like, twelve of you. Because I’ve got a BONUS FEATURE coming up in the near future, which is going to be super rad. I promise. And after that, well, maybe I’ll start getting back into the swing of things on my reading, and start posting reviews on a regular basis again?
The world can hope, right?