When it’s successful, humorous writing looks so effortless that we forget how much effort goes into it. There is a subjective element to humor that makes it very, very difficult to pull off on the page. Is the author as amusing as he thinks he is?
Happily, Dan Stone’s novel The Rest of Our Lives is genuinely funny. Two young male witches, the opposite of each other in many ways, meet and fall in love, only to discover that their love affair is centuries old. They met in previous lifetimes, sometimes as a mixed-sex couple; and their love didn’t always—well, didn’t ever work out.
This premise has a screwball edge to it—it reminds me of the René Clair film I Married a Witch. And as in classic screwball comedy, there is true romance afoot. Maintaining an even, light touch throughout, Stone delivers scenes of steamy love and hand-wringing angst that carry the reader along like a breeze. His narrator, Colm, is especially winning; he has the native wisdom and dicey self-esteem of a protagonist from a Stephen Macaulay novel.
While we are held aloft and lightly tickled by this story, we might contemplate how the author has taken an adage—“opposites attract”—and given it a twist that feels old and new at the same time. Old, because this bit of folk wisdom has existed in stories ever since man first took chisel to stone; and new because these particular opposites have a supernatural twist. They differ, not only in looks and temperament, but in temperature—cold for Colm, hot for Aidan. Part of the fun of the book is seeing how the hot and cold aspects of their magic work for them, and sometimes against them.
Stone gives no hint of a sequel, but there is plenty of room for one. I hope I get to see these characters again…without waiting a lifetime.
Reviewed by Wayne Courtois