I know Karina Fabian through the Catholic Writers Guild, and a few years ago at one of the online conferences, I was the lucky winner of a copy Magic, Mensa & Mayhem, one of her earlier works in the Dragoneye, PI series.
I read it in one long evening of a reading-frenzy, which on the one hand isn’t shocking because if a book has a decent plot I get sucked in; on the other hand, it tells you the book has a decent plot, because Hitchiker’s Guide and Young GKC notwithstanding, I don’t usually read much of anything in the sci-fi/fantasy category. I subscribed to Karina’s new Rocket Science for the Rest of Us blog hoping maybe some of that science-geek power would rub off, but so far, no luck. I just keep ending up back at Dr. Boli. I’m the wrong kind of geeky.
Live and Let Fly is the latest in the DragonEye series (after a detour through zombie land — see Julie D.’s review here), narrated by a dragon, Vern, and his partner, Sister Grace. They are two magicals operating a detective agency on our side of a dimensional gap that has opened up between the mundane world (ours) and the faerie world.
This is Catholic-genre fiction, so Sister Grace is just one of many faerie-nun-superheros doing their part as agents for the Faerie Catholic Church — a rite in union with the Catholic Church as we know it, but with it’s own pope, and it’s own disciplines suitable for the various faerie beings. [Example: A mundane priest hearing Vern’s confession needs to know: Is it a sin for a dragon to eat another sentient being?]
Why I enjoyed this book:
1. At the end of the day, it’s a detective thriller. I like thrillers.
2. I love, love, love the humor. I had to skip some of my favorite excerpts because they contain spoilers, but here’s a couple quotes from earlier-on:
We’d had so many Save The Universe Cases, we’d given them their own code — STUC. Now if we could just arrange to get paid more for them. I was still working that angle. We had a rates scale, but asking for more money and getting it were two different things — and of course, we weren’t going to not save the world while we negotiated. Grace was pretty firm on that point.
The forty-something human, large enough to keep me fed for days, bearing a walrus mustache, hefted himself out of his chair. “Sister. Dragon. Welcome to the Bureau of Interdimensional Law Enforcement.”
BILE? There’s a name that must have been made in committee. Grace landed a subtle kick on my ankle, however, so I held off on the snide comments . . .
3. The pixies and brownies just crack me up. And Hel’s kitchen. Who knew?
1. The writing is fast-paced and the story moves right along, never bogs down. The main characters are well-developed across the the course of the book. I did have some difficulty, though, with following the early crime-scene and around-town dialogue, and likewise again back at the station at the end of the story — lots of minor characters filling out the set. Some of the characters I recognized from MMM, but since that one is set primarily in Florida, I wasn’t familiar with all the locals from previous stories set in Los Lagos, Colorado, where Vern keeps his lair. It’s worth tooling around the DragonEye, PI blog if you need to get up to speed.
2. I kinda stink at mythology. You who know your gods and goddesses will get a lot more out of the many references — sometimes in passing, other times with assorted demi-gods coming on as significant characters. I could follow along, though — the books provides all the essential background on the major players.
Who would like this book? If you’d rather be reading Thomas Hardy, please, just go. Go. Do not even look. See the dragon and nun on the cover? This is not for you.
But if you want playful adult* Catholic fiction that entertains? Then you’re set.
To learn more:
*FYI for all that this is very explicitly Catholic-genre, joyfully kitschy with no apologies, if you’re looking for sugar-coated g-rated fluff, skip to another book. I’d rate this Teen/Adult for language, innuendo, and mature themes. More gracefully and faithfully handled than anything ever said in a junior-high locker room, but no matter how sorry and degenerate our culture, these topics really are not meant for little readers. So parents read first before you hand it over to your pre-teen, you’ll need to judge what your child is ready to read.