Too Many Curses
Tor, Sep 2008, $14.95
Margle the Horrendous is an arrogant evil wizard who relishes his collection. His castle is loaded with his defeated foes who he has transformed into all sorts of shapes. His housekeeper Nessy the kobold detests the clutter since she wipes the dust off of her master’s precious ensemble. She likes her job though some of the losers are pests, but would like a little adventure of her own.
However sometimes you get what you wish for; all hell breaks lose inside Margle’s castle when he dies from one of his incantations. Suddenly his entire collection is free, but they are made up of monsters with a grudge; only Nessy is around as a target for their frustrations although they admit she was kind to all of them. Nessy the pragmatic struggles with lifting curses when she has no magical skills but has some insubstantial cursed allies who in lucid moments try to help her. Adding to her inability to clean up the growing mess is Tiama the Scarred wizardess has come calling initially to make Margle her slave, but now to take over his life’s work.
This weird fantasy is reminiscent of Howl’s Moving Castle is a fun tale containing a wild bunch of support characters although too many so that few get explored beyond a brief description; even those who assist Nessy are never deeply described. The angst of consciously having a few body parts exist in a jar must be harrowing, but Lee Martinez never explores it. Still this is a fast-paced tale starring a likable competent housekeeper, Margle’s damned, and the despicable new wizard trashing the castle. Young readers will especially enjoy Nessy’s efforts to clean up her late employer’s latest mess.