cover image Helen & Troy’s Epic Road Quest

Helen & Troy’s Epic Road Quest

A. Lee Martinez. Orbit, $15 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-0-316-22643-1

The ever-mercurial Martinez (Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain) offers up a sweetly charming, gleefully entertaining tale of two teens traveling across the country, one mythic encounter at a time. Helen Nicolaides, a young woman suffering from minotaurism (hooves, tail, cow head, and all), and her coworker Troy Kawakami, who’s almost distressingly normal, are cursed by the long-forgotten Lost God to collect certain items of power, or else. (“Because that’s the way it is,” the god explains when Helen protests that quests are “arbitrary” and “stupid.”) With a little help from the National Questing Bureau, they set off, dealing with sleeping dragons, hungry witches, and a combative cyclops while a murderous pack of orc bikers follows in hot pursuit. Martinez is a master at making the fantastic so mundane it’s fantastic again. While too many familiar mythical elements may occasionally encourage readers to skim, sympathetic characters and a fast-paced plot filled with magic and adventure build to a rousing success from an author who reinvents himself with every new release. (July)