Holy Water

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
284 Pages
Reviewed on 05/25/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Holy Water: A Novel Based on True Fake Events by Colin Heston is a fantastic story that features conspiracy, the game of power, religious manipulation, and crime. Alphonso is a top Mexican drug lord who penetrates the Vatican, engaging in the Holy Water business. The pope dies in mysterious circumstances and Alphonso replaces him with his puppet, Cardinal Pollagrande. The rich Alphonso will buy a New Jersey state university for his lesbian daughter and will rename it Virgin Hall. There is a lot of drama, humorously written scenes involving a papal visit to Virgin Hall, and snake dancing. But the big question as another papal conclave looms ahead is: Who will eventually have absolute power?

While this is a comedy, it intelligently makes a mockery of the influence of the rich on church leaders, and while the satire targets some of the important figures in the church, it also reflects the greed of some of the churchmen who allow themselves to be controlled by those with strong financial influences. The humor greets the reader right from the opening sentences, with a funny description of the pot-bellied Alphonso, a man who scratches his belly when he is nervous, because when he is nervous, his navel itches. The dialogues are wonderfully written and they contain the author’s blend of humor and satire. The cast of characters is interesting, including Estelle, the cardinal’s robot housekeeper, Julia, El Padrino, and others. While Alphonso is a selfish man with no family skills, he finds himself in a situation where he becomes the father of a big family. Can he learn to take responsibility as someone who cares deeply for his people or will he continue to allow important things about his life and family to be managed by his oversexed thugs? Holy Water: A Novel Based on True Fake Events is a rollicking ride for anyone who loves good humor and the company of well-developed characters. The tone is lighthearted but never lacking in those moments that are mentally engaging.

K.C. Finn

Holy Water is a work of humorous fiction penned by author Colin Heston, suitable for all readers due to its tasteful use of innuendo over crude language. A satirical tale of religion, business and family ties, we meet Alphonso when he is at the peak of his career as a drug lord in his home country of Mexico. After infiltrating the Vatican and gaining a monopoly on the titular Holy Water, the novel turns surreal as a new Pope pops up who just happens to be Alphonso’s friend. The pair interferes with various institutions at home and abroad, altering the lives of their friends and families in the process.

The high point of this surreal but observant comedy novel is the narrative voice of Colin Heston, which shines through with its dry wit and irreverent sense of style. Every line is well placed to deliver humor, with zippy dialogue, puns, and in-jokes that only grow in mirth as the reading experience continues. The plot took one too many twists for my liking with only the occasional grounding in reality, but the circumstances which Alphonso gets himself into are certainly hilarious constructions with plenty of comic fallout. I particularly liked Julia for her guts and comedic value, especially as the Virgin Hall setting comes more and more into play, and I found the latter portion of the novel far stronger than the opening. Overall, Holy Water is a well written and humorous comedy story that will suit fans of surreal plot twists and anarchistic humor.

Vincent Dublado

This is what satire is truly made of. Colin Heston’s Holy Water is a funny novel from start to finish. Most of the situations are humorous in handling the story's subject matter. At the center of the plot is Alphonso, a Mexican drug lord, who infiltrates the Vatican when it occurs to him how obscenely wealthy he would be when he monopolizes the market in holy water and its spinoff products. The incumbent pope dies mysteriously from erectile dysfunction, and Alphonso takes advantage of this tragic event to instate his friend, Cardinal Pollagrande, as the new pope. It becomes easy for Alphonso and his Great Godfather’s network to facilitate the production and distribution of his new product, Aqua Santa Pietro. But when a drug lord is pulling the strings inside the Vatican, expect things to go awry at some point, especially when you are dealing with a plethora of loose cannons.

Holy Water is not simply a satire written just for laughs. I won’t go so far as to talk about Alphonso’s family that figures largely in the storyline, but every character in this story is a humorous study in personality problems. This novel is written or perhaps even conceived uniquely and is not assembled from pieces or borrowed parts of any popular gangster or drug cartel stories. Heston writes with a good level of detail in his narrative and dialogues that are quite remarkable, making his characters distinctly funny. Expect to encounter a cast of weird characters including a robot housekeeper named Estelle. This novel deserves to be read for its daring humor, unusual plot twist, and brazen characters that will trigger laughter.

Romuald Dzemo

In the captivating and humorous tale, Holy Water by Colin Heston, a Mexican drug lord succeeds in infiltrating the Vatican, becoming part of the Holy Water business, replacing a pope who dies in suspicious circumstances with the candidate of his choice, buying a university in New Jersey and giving it to his daughter who is LGBTQ oriented, and more. Alphonso is a man that is feared and respected in the high places of the Vatican, but how far can his influence in the church go?

Holy Water is a story that discusses the intersection between crime and religion. Readers are introduced to a protagonist whose crimes are well-known by the Vatican, but he is a man who uses his money, obtained through crime, to influence the life of the Church. The author explores the consciences of the characters in a skillful manner and exposes how unscrupulous religious leaders can compromise sound moral principles for personal gain. I loved the intelligent manner in which the author writes about the world of the drug lord. The story is filled with exhilarating moments, strongly emotional and humorous, and the satire is as strong as it is revealing of the hypocrisy of those who are supposed to lead the church. The visit of the pope to Virgin Hall, a visit accompanied by snake dancing, isn’t just humorous but satirical. A cardinal having a female robot for a housekeeper is aberrant, and how the author writes about these characters is what makes this novel a must-read. If you want a good laugh, then you must pick up Holy Water by Colin Heston, a farcical story that feels real as it is reflective of the truth we push beneath the carpet.