Witness the epic battle of the cyclops!
Visit the endangered dragon preserve! Please, no slaying.
Solve the mystery of The Mystery Cottage, if you dare!
Buy some knickknacks from The Fates! They might come in handy later.
On a road trip across an enchanted America, Helen and Troy will discover all this and more. If the curse placed upon them by an ancient god doesn't kill them or the pack of reluctant orc assassins don't catch up to them, Helen and Troy might reach the end their journey in one piece, where they might just end up destroying the world. Or at least a state or two.
A minotaur girl, an all-American boy, a three-legged dog, and a classic car are on the road to adventure, where every exit leads to adventure. Whether they like it or not.
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A little twee but very funny.
Gods and Monsters (Go Monsters!)
At first, I would not recommend this type of audiobook to my wife. Fantasy and sci-fi was just not her thing, no matter how good I thought it was. Then she tried one by accident, and loved it. Then I recommended another, and she loved it. I can't recommend everything to her -- one wrong move and she'll probably revert to her initial stance of not liking the genre. Helen and Troy, however, will be one that heartily recommend. The humor helps -- and the good humor inherent in the writing and the reading.
The subject matter is not original, but the charismatic characters and cheerful tone make it stand out as unique. Others have imagined our world, as it exists in reality for us, peopled by magical or supernatural or mythological beings (cf. of course Harry Potter). Helen and Troy live in such a world, where an ordinary young woman like Helen can have familiar problems but also be a minotaur, and she can be sent on a magical quest by a god (one of many) that she meets in the burger joint where she and Troy work, and she and Troy can be recruited by an FBI-CIA-type agency to carry out that quest.
On one hand, the consistency of the world created by A. Lee Martinez makes it work, but on the other hand it's the humor and good humor that make that world and its characters so likeable -- sorry to be repetitive, but humor is one thing, something that makes you laugh, which is frequent while listening to this book, but good humor doesn't mean that the laughs are good, it means that it's all done with a jovial spirit that is irresistible. And it is.
Helen is another wonderfully empowered young woman, not least because she has minotaur blood, and her youthful sarcasm never bites, as performed by Khristine Hvam. But with all due respect, my favorite character was Nigel the Orc. An accountant in a world of gods and monsters that has been thoroughly updated to 21st century civilization, he first buys into the traditional violent villainy of being an Orc, but then discovers that it is more heroic to be an enlightened creature. Wonderful stuff, especially with the cockney accent Hvam gives him and the other Orcs.
There has been a lot of snow in the Northeast US this winter. I've had to shovel the sidewalk three days in a row now. Not just shovel -- I've had to scrape the ice off my heavily trafficked sidewalk. I listened to much of this book while doing that. So not one sitting -- just a tad too long for that -- but definitely a big help in getting through a tedious chore.
As I said, the idea of placing magical, mythical beings in a normal human setting is not original. Beyond the obvious Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman's American Gods imagined our contemporary world with the pantheon of ancient gods living ordinary lives among the mere morals, Hard Magic peopled the film noir world of the gangster era with people possessing magical powers, Christopher Moore's entire body of work (mostly) takes them one at a time, and on the big and small screen, and in comic books, we've seen X-Men, Heroes, Alphas, The 4400, etc. etc. etc. (not to mention countless vampires and werewolves, which I mostly hate).
In this context, I'm not sure why I even decided to try Helen and Troy, since the last time I went for something in this sub-genre (Hard Magic), I was sorely disappointed and felt that the territory was too well trodden. But I'd seen Martinez mentioned often alongside authors I like (like Moore), so I gave it a shot, and am glad I did, because Martinez makes it work beyond its well-worn territory with, as I've already said more than once, the humor and the characters and the tone.