Helen and Troy are typical high-schoolers, recently graduated, working in a burger joint to earn some money. Troy is all-American (well Asian) good looks, quarterback and straight A student, perfect. Helen is…well I’ll let Troy describe her, as he did to his sister.
“She’s pretty in a unique way. She’s tall. Brown eyes. Wide shoulders and hips. A bit…meaty, but not in a bad way. Brown hair with white spots.”
“On her neck,” he said.
Imogen nodded to herself. “The minotaur chick?”
“That’s her.” (p.42)
Yes, Helen is a seven-foot girl with horns and hooves, or an Enchanted American as she’s now referred to, and she and Troy inhabit an America that is like ours, with the same viewpoints, only with mythological creatures and vengeful gods, rather as if ancient Greece and the modern Midwest were melded into an uneasy entity.
Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest is a fun read. It all begins at the burger joint, where the boss, an elderly elf, attempts to sacrifice Helen to a hamburger god. (It’s a little more complicated than that, however.) Troy appears and the two teens manage to fight the god, the god eats the elf and then assigns the two teens a quest. Soon a suited bureaucrat from the National Questing Bureau shows up, and gives them some guidelines, but they’re basically on their own. To complicate things, the hamburger god has enemies, one of whom sends the Wild Hunt, a team of orcs and plus an honorary human, Franklin, who even “wearing his leather jacket and…traditional orc haircut…still looked as if he belonged behind a desk, sniffling and being vaguely passive-agressive to his co-workers.” (p 79) They have to fight a cyclops, escape a witch, and find the missing (unspecified) objects demanded by the hamburger god in order to complete their quest. And there’s no guarantee they’ll both survive, or that they won’t inadvertently destroy several states in the process.
Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest is perfect for teens who loved Percy Jackson in junior high, but there’s nothing objectionable in the book–it’d be fine for younger or older readers as well. I really enjoyed it–although it’s light and packed with a zany sort of humour, it still touches on prejudice and self-image and familial support. It’s got emotional growth, a budding romance, and a very tongue-in-cheek approach to life.
But what do actual teens think? My daughter Ilsa, 16, has this to say:
It was pretty special. And weird. And awesome. And weird. I loved it. #minotaur#hamburgermeat#awesomesauce
Yeah. Ignore the hashtags. Here’s the takeaway: Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest is a fun read for all ages. You’ll probably enjoy it, and if you wouldn’t, you almost certainly know someone who will.