The idea of the gods interacting directly with mortals is not a new one for modern fiction. Neil Gaiman tackled it in American Gods and now A. Lee Martinez does it in Divine Misfortune – but that’s about as far as that comparison can go. Where Gaiman treats the subject with seriousness and gravitas and has something to say about the nature of belief and humanity, Martinez is just having a romp. Yes, both books deal with the idea that a god gets their power from the belief of their followers but where Gaiman uses this as a driving part of the plot, for Martinez, this is a mere character trait.
Divine Misfortune follows the story of Phil and Teri, a typical yuppie couple who don’t follow any particular deity. Since we’re in a world of direct divine intervention, this becomes an issue as Phil gets passed up for promotion at work and their lawn will never actually grow green. So, they do what any normal couple does in these situations, the join a god referral service and choose one, based on a 2 minute promotional video. The god they choose is Luka (“Call me Lucky”) a 3 foot tall raccoon who takes his worshippers’ pledge to honor him in their hearts and hearths a little too literally and moves in. That’s when the fun starts.
A secondary, but intertwined plot involves Siph, a goddess of despair and heartbreak trying to come to grips with a bad dumping several millennia earlier (and when you figure out who dumped her, you do it well ahead of when the prose tells you). In between all of this there’s a demonic god antagonist and a couple of love stories and at the end, this book is just plain fun.
Martinez is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine, In the past year I’ve listened to a couple of his other books and the one thing they all have is a light tone and an easy style. And they’re all funny. He’s Christopher Moore light and his ideas are all fun and clever. For an easy and entertaining read there’s little better.