Chasing the Moon
by A. Lee Martinez
Review by Cathy Green
Orbit Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316093552
Date: 25 May 2011 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Chasing The Moon, A. Lee Martinez's latest humorous fantasy/horror novel Diana gets offered a deal on a rental apartment that seems too good to be true. Unfortunately, she does not find out what the catch is until after she takes the apartment. Although, really, she should have known something was up given that the apartment came already decorated with a jukebox with all her favorite songs on it, her favorite sodas in the fridge and posters completely matched to her taste. Mr. West tells her the catch is that she can't open the closet door, but it is not until after she accepts the keys to Apartment Five that she finds out why – the only way out of the lease and the apartment is to open the closet and let Vom the Hungering eat her. On the plus side, the apartment comes with a magic refrigerator that will give her whatever she wants to eat or drink.
Meanwhile, across town, Sharon and her boyfriend Calvin, who's not entirely human but instead an aspect of a god, are dealing with the smarmy Greg, the head of a cult that worships the god that Calvin used to be and which promises to bring about the conditions that will allow Calvin to unite with his other aspect. Thanks to Calvin, the cult has the ability to turn into wolves when performing their rituals. In a typically funny Martinez touch,Sharon in wolf form is so excited to be with Calvin that she accidentally destroys a couch. Calvin tells her not to worry because it's not his couch, it's Greg's, and he doesn't like Greg.
Diana copes with being stuck in the apartment better than expected. She discovers a loophole. She keeps asking the refrigerator to make her sandwiches until the pile of sandwiches is so big it distracts Vom the Hungering and allows her to make her escape from the apartment building. Not that leaving the building helps. Because she is tied to the apartment, she is now aware that the universe is not the rational ordered place she had previously assumed it to be, and she can see hell hounds and manifestations of other realities all around her. Diana copes reasonably well with altered reality and is soon engaging in conversations with Mr. West about how avocados need to be delivered to Apartment Three or California will fall into the ocean and meeting and befriending her fellow tenants. Of course, not everything goes smoothly. Diana dreams of elder gods and occasionally accidentally wanders into other universes and realities, unintentionally doing some damage in the process. And because the apartment is able to warp reality to make her happy, she accidentally causes the store where she works to burn down because she didn't want to go in to work one day. Also, because she now has these powers, she acts as a beacon for those from other realities that accidentally fall into ours, and soon she finds herself with several roommates in addition to Vom, including a giant tentacled eyeball that shoots death rays (named Zap naturally) and a hedgehog like creature named Unending Smorgaz who has an unfortunate tendency to bud off clones.
Going out with her new friends is always a challenge, but one day at the pool hall Diana and the gang run into Sharon, who introduces herself while making it clear that she knows exactly what Diana's friends are. Getting to know Sharon and Calvin means that Diana becomes aware that Greg's cult is trying to reunite Calvin with Fenris and effectively bring about the end of reality as we know it. Diana is not about to let that happen and sets about trying to prevent the end with the help of her trio of wacky roommates.
This is a Martinez novel, so there's a great deal of comedy on the way to the climax, most of it relating to Diana adjusting to her new powers and her new reality, which tends to interfere with things like dating and work. And taking Vom, Zap, and Smorgaz out in the world generally results in a certain amount of barely controlled chaos. Basically, Chasing The Moon is a funny novel about Ragnarok. Readers who are already fans of Martinez will not be disappointed, and because his novels are all self-contained stand-alone books, Chasing The Moon makes a nice place to start for the novice Martinez reader. Recommended.