Divine Misfortune is set in an alternate world where Gods make deals with humans; in exchange for tribute, Gods provide humans the benefits of their area of specialty. Phil and Terri live an average middle class existence but never really manage to move up the corporate ladder because unlike their coworkers, neither Phil or Terri have welcomed a God into their life. When Phil is passed up for promotion yet again and his neighbour's lawn suddenly becomes perfect with the help of Demeter, Phil decides that it's time for him and Terri to pick a God. With the multiple of Gods in human history -- this is not an easy task -- particularly when you have to pass a credit check to even look at Zeus's profile and Tyr demands the removal of a hand as proof of devotion. After looking through the Gods on pantheon.com, Phil and Terri settle on Luka, the God of prosperity and good fortune. Unlike the other Gods, Luka doesn't seem overly demanding and a safe bet to the risk adverse Terri and Phil but what they forgot, is that dealing with the divine is never as simple as it first seems.
Before they know it, Terri and Phil find themselves in the middle of a holy war between their personal deity Luka and Gorgoz "the ultimate embodiment of the chaos that birth the universe." And what are the two Gods fighting over? Well, a goddess of course. There's nothing like a love triangle to keep immortality interesting. If that isn't enough, Luka, who loves his Hawaiian shirts, decides to summarily move in and bring his friend Quetzalcoatl along for the ride. Getting though a typical day is hard enough but when you're dealing with God engaged in a holy war, a South American God filled with guilt for not dealing with the conquistadors, and a Goddess of love, now turned into the Goddess of tragedy because centuries later, she's still not over being dumped, life can become complicated quickly.
You can probably tell from the description that there is a lot going on in Divine Misfortune, yet despite the twists and turns and the appearance of various Gods from assorted pantheons, the story never once feels confused. Divine Misfortune is also infused with Martinez's great sense of humor and this makes the book at times laugh out loud funny. After all, who wouldn't want to offer tribute to a God for some luck when informed that the in laws are coming for a visit, along with their multitude of children, particularly when one of the kids is going through a pyromaniac stage? With incidents like having an entire city's water supply being turned into grape soda as the result of an epic God showdown, all the world's pregnant dogs giving birth at once to winged puppies, Zeus and Mog giving out signed autographed photos and the Goddess of revenge giving boils to spurned lovers, Divine Misfortune is written to make you giggle, then laugh out loud until you have tears rolling down your face.
In terms of gender, Divine Misfortune had three very strong characters female characters but Terri was by far my favourite, Terri, was so feminist, she refused to be saved by a man. When Phil, Terri and Bonnie, (who is forced to deal with the result of unwittingly becoming Syph, the goddess of tragedy number one sycophant), are confronted by gun men, who want to kill them as a tribute to Gorgoz, Phil decides to offer his life in trade for the two women. Terri however is not at all impressed.
Phil stood and stepped between Eugene and his wife. “Kill me. But don’t shoot the women.”
“That’s some misogynistic bullshit.” Teri pushed him aside. “Kill me but let them go.”
“This isn’t a good time for feminism,” he replied.
“Says you.” She turned her eyes away from the guns trained on them. “You know how I feel about women and children first. It puts women in the same category as children. And I am not a child.”
“I wasn’t saying that. I was just trying to be noble.”
“Because it’s the man’s job to be noble,” she said, “and the woman’s job to—”
“Dammit, this is not the time to be having this discussion!”
Bonnie stood. “Shoot me. I’m the one who is going to die anyway. Might as well get it out of the way.”
“Excuse me,” said Eugene. “But this is an assassination, not a negotiation. You’re all going to get shot. There’s no way around that.”
“Although, for the record, miss,” said Rick, “I agree with you that it’s chauvinistic nonsense." (pg117)
When Phil later decides to trade himself Gorgoz to keep Terri safe, does not at all see the gesture as loving and supportive.