Divine Misfortune, by A. Lee Martinez (Orbit, 2010)

Welcome to a world where the gods are alive and well and dealing with humanity on their own terms. Everyone’s got a personal god, who takes care of them according to the level of faith involved and sacrifices offered. Want that promotion? Sacrifice a calf to Baal. Looking for lower insurance premiums? Marduk’s your deity. Demeter might be handy if you want a lush lawn, and so forth. After years of holding out, Phil and Teri are fed up with seeing everyone else get ahead through worship while they get left behind… so they’re in the market for a god.

Enter Luka, raccoon god of prosperity. Let him crash on your couch and eat your leftovers and maybe have a few friends over, and he’ll take care of you. Oh, but he might forget to mention the goddess ex-girlfriend still stalking him, or his archenemy, the dreaded god Gorgoz, whose minions are lurking in the shadows. And don’t mind when he and your best friend the god groupie start hooking up, because, well, raccoon god of prosperity. Phil and Teri may have their own god now, but he comes with a lot of baggage, and their lives are about to get hazardous. When mortals get wrapped up in the affairs of the gods, it rarely ends well.

Never one to repeat himself, A. Lee Martinez once again offers up a screwball fantasy where the mundane and the magical clash with tongue-in-cheek results. The concept is sheer genius: gods surviving in the modern world by actively soliciting worshippers for a little quid pro quo arrangement. And well, look, Divine Misfortune had me at “raccoon god of prosperity.” Yes, I am that easy to please. This book could kick puppies, and I’d still have given it a fair shot just for that bit. Sometimes, the high concept is all you need, especially when the author is firing on all cylinders.

But in all seriousness, this is a great story. Reminiscent of Tom Holt in his prime, it’s steeped in mythology, both traditional and newly-invented, and heavily accented with a dry humor that somehow makes it all the more enjoyable. It’s not the deepest of storylines, nor the most profound, but it’s thoroughly entertaining and good for a few laughs. I’ve never been disappointed by Martinez’s books, and Divine Misfortune is as good as anything else he’s ever done.

Plus, raccoon god of prosperity. I’m thinking I may need to set up an altar for that one. Just in case. But hopefully I won’t end up with a giant feathered snake god sleeping on my couch as a result.

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