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MONSTER by A. Lee Martinez


by A. Lee Martinez

Pub Date: May 11th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-316-04126-3
Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

The tea-drinking little old lady next door is a cosmic threat in Martinez’s latest comic effort (Too Many Curses, 2008, etc.).

The author has carved out a comfortable niche for himself with his wacky horror/modern fantasy/SF novels, most of which involve a blue-collar human, mutant or supernatural being who must save the world. This time, the task falls to a supermarket checker named Judy and her unwilling champion, Monster Dionysus. A freelance cryptobiological rescue agent, Monster catches the mythological beasts—trolls, sphinxes, etc.—that the mundane employees at Animal Control can’t quite deal with. He’s coping with one such problem (yetis in the frozen food section) when he meets Judy. Apparently, she’s had several similar encounters throughout her life, but she can’t recall any of them because, like most people, she’s missing the part of the brain necessary to retain memories of magical occurrences. But it’s absolutely vital for Judy to remember that magic exists, because she’s the key to defeating an ancient, powerful and extraordinarily devious being disguised as the neighborhood cat lady. This mildly amusing romp breaks little new ground, but the standard setup gains sparkle from Monster’s chronic curse: He wakes up every day with a different skin color and magical power. Adding to the fun are the abilities of his sidekick Chester, a sixth-dimensional entity that manifests as various shapes of folded paper. It’s also refreshing that Judy and Monster’s bickering flouts tradition by not indicating any sexual or romantic tension.

Utterly predictable, and lacking the edge Terry Pratchett gives similar scenarios, but pleasantly engaging brain candy nonetheless.