Those of you who’ve been following me for a while may remember Karina Fabian’s guest post on the submission process and my earlier interview with her. Most recently I had the opportunity to review Live and Let Fly, a paranormal fantasy released by Muse It Up Publishing earlier this year.
Let’s start with the back cover:
For a dragon detective with a magic-slinging nun as a partner, saving the worlds gets routine. So, when the U.S. government hires Vern and Sister Grace to recover stolen secrets for creating a new Interdimensional Gap—secrets the U.S. would like to keep, thank you—Vern sees a chance to play Dragon-Oh-Seven.
No human spy, however, ever went up against a Norse goddess determined to rescue her husband. Sigyn will move heaven and earth to get Loki—and use the best and worst of our world against anyone who tries to stop her.
It’s super-spy spoofing at its best with exotic locations (Idaho–exotic? Well, Idaho’s exotic to them), maniacal middle-managers, secret agent men, teen rock stars in trouble, man-eating animatronics, evil overlords, and more!
And on to the review…
As a reader, I quite enjoyed this book. Its main characters, Vern and Grace, are a great pair, with Grace’s calm and faith in God and Vern’s sarcastic narration. Their different personalities balance each other out, both directly in the plot and in the overall tone of the piece. Each also possesses a specific talent: Grace is a strong magical warrior, and Vern… well, he’s a dragon, which comes with all kinds of perks, most of them strength related.
One of my favourite things about this book is that the main relationship which ends up being the driving force of the story is that between best friends rather than lovers. It’s always nice to see characters who aren’t focused on finding romantic partners–though there is a romance sub-plot between two side characters.
That said, the best thing about this book is probably the range of mythologies it includes. While the main characters are Christian–Catholic, to be precise–and in this universe it’s made clear the Christian God does exist, several Norse deities are also included and real in the world of Faerie. My own spiritual belief is that all gods exist and are different representations of the same energy, so the idea of Asgard coexisting with the Christian heaven resonates deeply with me. It’s awesome to see something like this in fiction.
What else was awesome about this book? The Monty Python reference on page 27 and Vern’s insistence on mocking cheesy spy movies everywhere.
As a writer, I enjoyed this book, though I sometimes found the writing overbearing. The sarcastic narrative balanced out the religious references and sometimes ridiculous plot, but even the humour occasionally became overbearing. Sometimes I found the writing style overdone and thought it detracted from the story, but overall I didn’t mind it.
One thing interesting thing was the very deliberate censorship. Because Vern and Grace are (somewhat) strict Catholics, mentioning vulgarities without saying them outright fit in the context. Many of the jokes in the book also worked better because of the character’s religions. As a non-religious person, I usually don’t get through books about stricter religious characters, but Live and Let Fly managed to keep my attention with superb, if occasionally overbearing, writing. The characters are also well-written, well developed and a great team–without the chemistry between characters, I would never have finished this book.
What one line stood out to me most as a writer? I loved this one–or two, from page 109: “Daring rescue, close escape from death, injured knight, and exotic and comfortable transportation? Add that to true love, and you need a chaperone.”