Too Many Curses-- A. Lee Martinez-- Review
Too Many Curses is a fantasy puzzle novel. This means, Nessy, the main character must defeat the obstacles in the book using the help of her friends and her brain. There are not too many of this type of novel written. Another very good example of this kind of novel is Mary Brown The Unlikely Ones. This style emphasizes brains over brawn.
Nessy is a kobold servant of the evil, malicious wizard, Margle the Horrendous. One day, Margle gets accidentally eaten by the Nargle, a rather ridiculous monster who takes a liking to Nessy. Note the pun (Margle versus Nargle.) There is a lot of this kind of silliness in the novel along with rhyming.
With Margle gone, Nessy still feels the necessity to take care of the accursed denizens of the wizards castle. Feeding the monsters, sweeping the floors, and making sure everything is in its proper place. This is not easy, with Margle gone things start to unravel. Beasties and terrible things start to happen.
She seeks the help of the various denizens of the castle to help her out, Dangerous Dan the skeleton (I think this is a reference to Dangerous Dan McGraw), the sword in the cabbage, the hanged man in the library (I think this may be a reference to the board game Clue.), a hero turned into a fruit bat, a wizards parts in a jar, and others. If you pay careful attention there are many references to literature and popular culture.
Because she is short, furry, and practical she cannot defeat the problems with brute force. Often what happens is a series of pratfalls and Rube Goldberg like actions to defeat her foes. For example as part of defeating a hellhound she traps it in a living carpet. It is not a your typical fantasy novel. She also goes under the tutelage of the brain in the jar to learn spells.
Ultimately, like all good heros she saves the day, but not before she has many adventures. All of the creatures of the castle go back to their proper place and she can read her novel given to her by the monster under the bed.
I enjoyed this novel. It was hard to follow and a bit silly at times. I think the novel will be panned by reviewers because of its unusual style. It is written for a general audience, but the puns will hit right on with teenagers.
I think A. Lee Martinez could very well be the next Robert Asprin of fantasy writing. He is a very good author who deserves a solid following. I also enjoyed reading Gil's All Fright Diner, and I reviewed The Automatic Detective earlier. He has a website at: http://www.aleemartinez.com/