It's been about five years since I've read an A. Lee Martinez novel. I really liked the first few books of his I read, enough to keep picking up his novels as they came out, but after Monster, I slowed down a bit. The story felt forced, and around that time my reading pace began to slow, making me more judicious in what books I chose to read. Unfortunately, he didn't make the cut after that one novel. Too Many Curses has been on my bookshelf for a while, from before I read Monster, so it made it into my list of stuff to read. I'm glad, too, because it reminded me that, while the stories aren't the laugh-a-minute fun-fest that some of the reviews suggest, they're still light stories with just the right amount of stuff going on in them to keep you engrossed.
In Too Many Curses, Nessy is the caretaker at Margle the Horrendous' castle, which is populated by a number of other characters who have all been turned into something in retaliation to whatever slight Margle has perceived. It doesn't have to be a big slight, since Margle is an evil wizard, and when Margle is killed at the start of the story, the cursed inhabitants want to know why they haven't been returned to their normal selves. Nessy, then, becomes the impromptu person among them to learn the magic to transform everyone back, but just as she starts to get underway with that task, another wizard arrives to claim the castle and its treasures.
Martinez has had a lot of comparisons to Terry Pratchett made about him, which is pretty unfair. It's not that the comparisons reflect poorly on either author, but like I mentioned above, Martinez' stories, while humorous, aren't really anything like Pratchett's. There's a seriousness to them that one wouldn't expect from a humorous novel, since when deaths occur in Martinez' books, they (a) aren't done just for laughs, and (b) aren't characters who spontaneously come back to life within the next few pages.
There's also his characterization skills, which are deft. Somehow Martinez manages to capture a character perfectly, whether you're supposed to like them, and they feel genuine and real. Lots of other authors can do that, but there's something about his characters that feel natural and honest.
And can I mention how much I appreciate that his novels are all stand-alone? There's not a sequel, prequel, interquel, or series to find among Martinez' books. That thrills me.
I'll have to make sure I catch up on this guy now that I've been reminded how much fun his books can be. If you haven't enjoyed them yet, I'd recommend starting at the beginning and working your way forward. If you like wacky in your genre fiction like you like peanut butter* in your chocolate, you won't be disappointed.
Oh, and the songs lodged in my head thanks to the title? Either "Too Many Puppies" by Primus, or "Too Many Rappers" by Beastie Boys. I think I need help.
*Or mocha, if you have peanut allergies.