Remember Clarence Odbody, Angel Second Class, from Frank Capra’s classic holiday film, It’s A Wonderful Life? A-S2: A CLOCKMAKER’S JOURNEY by R.A. Cabral gives Clarence an intriguing backstory, including early attempts to gain his wings. Clarence’s life as a prominent British clockmaker and family man is cut short in the early 1700s when two muggers toss him off a bridge and into a river on Christmas Eve (readers familiar with the movie will get the parallel). He’s transported to a heaven heavy with middle management and reports to a guardian angel named Parvez who reports to an angel named Joseph Kearns, and so on, up through the clouds. After his first attempt to gain his wings goes awry, Clarence falls in with a crowd of outcasts, fallen angels who live on a remote, rocky island in the French Mediterranean.
That’s when A-S2: A CLOCKMAKER’S JOURNEY gets interesting. This gang of lost souls is more akin to the cultists of Midsommar than the friendly folks of Bedford Falls (the setting of the Capra movie). The fallen angels are creative types who enjoy wine and “silly cider” (made with psilocybin mushrooms). Sure, the island’s a bit isolated, but there’s no lack of hallucinogenic travel. Clarence enjoys trippy mushroom sex with a beautiful young lady named Sharah. Oh yeah, it’s a wonderful life. But despite visiting a literal “Devil’s island” and detouring into sex, drugs, and brimstone, Clarence Odbody retains the sweet nature that made him such a captivating character in Capra’s original film. Like an innocent passing through a tornado of terrors, his purity keeps him untouched. Still, Clarence isn’t the sharpest tool in the celestial shed. Even when maniacal leader Phosphorus produces business cards that read Lucifer Lux, Clarence is unable to connect the dots until it almost too late.
Cabral uses a unique “found text” framing device to keep A-S2: A CLOCKMAKER’S JOURNEY breezy and believable. Overall this is an engaging tale — brief, fun, and evocative of your favorite holiday memories. While the choice is clear for Clarence, readers may have a harder time choosing between the corporate ladder of heaven and the dead-end freedom of hell.
Author R.A. Cabral delivers a fun, funky backstory for Clarence Odbody in A-S2: A CLOCKMAKER’S JOURNEY, a sweetly imaginative and appealing book that should amuse (most) fans of the Frank Capra classic holiday film, “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader