‘Constance Verity’ by A. Lee Martinez: Book Review

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“Now a Major Film Staring Awkwafina,” it says in big letters on the cover of my copy of The Last Adventure of Constance Verity; the first book in A. Lee Martinez’s Constance Verity series. The book was first published back in 2016, a sequel followed (Constance Verity Saves the World), and the arrival of a third (and final) book, Constance Verity Destroys the Universe, is imminent. I’ve had a chance to read the first two, and thoroughly enjoyed them. They’re brilliant fun and a tonic for the dark days of winter, a great distraction from world politics and the terrible news cycle.

What Are the Constance Verity Books?

Constance Verity was cursed/blessed by her fairy godmother that she would always have adventure. On reaching her 7th birthday, the blessing came to fruition and since then it has been non-stop action, peril, and last-ditch victories. Constance has saved the world and indeed the universe countless times. 

As book one opens Constance (Connie) is somewhere around 30 and she’d like to give up adventuring for a quiet life. She wants to be normal. She sets out on what will be her last adventure to remove her blessing/curse/blurse. 

Of course, things aren’t as simple as that! 

With her sidekick, Tia, Connie becomes embroiled in yet another escapade, filled with derring-do and near misses. They track down Connie’s fairy godmother but she can shed little light on why the cosmos singled Connie out for special treatment. But there is a trail of crumbs that sets Connie off on a journey to discover the truth about her special abilities. 

Why Read the Constance Verity Books?

You can probably tell from the fact that there are at least 3 books in the series that, despite its title, Book 1 wasn’t Constance Verity’s last adventure at all. A good thing too: the series makes for great escapist reading and is often laugh-out-loud funny. 

The conceit of a reluctant hero is not a new one, yet Connie feels like a breath of fresh air. She’s seen just about every SFF/Superhero trope, which allows Martinez to subvert and poke fun at them with great effect.

Great fun is also had with the idea that Connie will always be able to make use of some outrageous luck or a last-minute intervention. This might have become a trite or annoying device that robbed the novels’ characters of agency, yet somehow, Martinez avoids this completely. The thing that intercedes is never what you expect, and, was it supernatural intercession or just Constance’s good planning? The reader is never quite sure.

The ensemble cast is great. Constance’s “normal” boyfriend (an accountant) makes a good foil for her outrageous adventures. Lifelong friend, Tia, is in many ways the hero of the novels. A friend and sidekick with minimal powers herself, but she never gives up supporting Connie. Throw in some special agents, a ninja ex-boyfriend, and host of alien and megalomaniacal acquaintances and you have a delightful smorgasbord from which to pick and choose your favorite interactions. 

I’m tempted to pigeon-hole Constance Verity as a “guilty pleasure.” Yet, why feel guilty about enjoying something as expertly crafted and entertaining as the Constance Verity books? This might not be seminal cerebral science fiction, but it isn’t trying to be. Instead it’s an open love letter to science fiction adventure and invitation to everybody who enjoys it to come and have a blast. These books are brilliant innovative fun that will leave you looking forward to more. 

If you’d like to pick up a copy of the first (and indeed any of the other) Constance Verity books, you can do so here, in the US and here, in the UK. 

If you enjoyed this book review, you’ll find lots more, here. 

Disclosure: I received review copies of these books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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