Divine Misfortune – review

I picked up Divine Misfortune because I had read another book by A Lee Martinez in the distantish past and I quite liked the originality of the premise and the style. I don’t know how highly I’d recommend his books, but I would actually recommend them. I say this because he reminds me of Chris Moore, except that I would actually tell people to read Martinez’s books.

The world of Divine Misfortune is a melting pot of religions, where the existence of gods is less a matter of faith and more a matter of contractual obligation for both parties. Phil and Teri decide to align themselves with a lesser known god of luck, rather than one of the big names. Unfortunately, part of this bargain is that he’ll be crashing on their couch. And that he has a rather dangerous enemy who’s been holding a grudge for a very long time.

There’s quite a cast of characters in this book. Not that it’s a large cast, more that each of them is rather individual in his or her own right.  My favourite was Quetzacoatl, never mind that his part was one of the smallest. People who are used to enormous casts of snowflakes may notice a thick underlying similarity between all of them–but given that that similarity is a laidback sense of humour, it’s not such a bad thing.

Although the world-building is quite good, I would have liked more expansion on the rules and physics. This is a place where Zeus and Amaterasu coexist. How does that even work? There’s a sort of aside mentioning that gods with similar duties but different cultures (Thor, Apocatequil, Ukko, etc.) sidle past that issue with embarrassed toe-kicking, but that’s the shallow end of the pool, anyway.

Also, when a team of big name gods showed up to fight what was essentially the book’s big bad, they made me think of the Avengers and similar teams in The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy. Which was… weird. To say the least. I’m not sure what I would have preferred, but that just seemed the wrong atmosphere.

There’s always plenty going on aside from the main plotline, which keeps the book interesting without making one feel as if things are getting too busy. The action varies in impact, rhythm, and length.

The human end of the main antagonist is a bit disappointing, though. When he is first introduced, he is very reminiscent of the villain in Quite Ugly One Morning (name has escaped me). He keeps it up, more or less, until he’s taken out of the picture in a rather anti-climactic way. I think I would have preferred him to be more effective, even though he was technically not the main antagonist.

Complaints aside, I like Martinez’s writing style, and his humour is quite enjoyable.

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