Sister Grace

(creator: Karina L Fabian)

Karina L Fabian
Sister Grace was a nun and "High Mage of the Faerie Catholic Church and a human", unlike her senior partner Vern who was a dragon detective and definitely Magical. Her role is to work with Vern at his Dragon Eye Private Investigation Agency and accompany him on his adventures so as to calm people down with little spells of magic: "Peace be with you," she says, and "the words, although calmly spoken, were nonetheless a spell backed by the power of the Holy Spirit". Even when she just seemed to be humming abstractedly, she was actually using a calming spell.

We are told little about her past in this book, but learn from one of the author's websites that
"She stands not much higher than five feet, has eyes the metallic blue of the calm Mediterranean and hair of a silvery red color that few have ever seen and (since she keeps it tucked under her wimple) few ever will." She "has dedicated her life to fighting the powers of Hell and those who exercise those powers".

She plays the harp and, as Vern explains, “a lot of her magical talent is tied into her singing. Used correctly, she can express the Word of God with a beauty you've never experienced .... Used wrongly, she can draw you willingly to your own demise." She does not seem to do much, if any, actual detecting, but I have included her here as she is such an unlikely character!

Karina L Fabian (1967- ) is a cradle Catholic who attended Colorado State University, where she majored in math. She joined the air force where she met her husband Rob. She began her writing career with articles about parenting issues, the Catholic faith, and artists and community leaders. She has written for over 50 publications, including newspapers, magazines of all sizes and radio. In 2005, she turned her attention totally to fiction. Her DragonEye, PI stories have appeared in magazines and on the Internet. She and her husband (with whom she sometimes writes) have four homeschooled children and five pets. She herself is a Mensan and a former President of the Catholic Writers Guild and also teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. They have lived in Italy, Japan, Wyoming, Colorado, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Dakota and California, and she says she likes moving on every three years or so.

Magic, Mensa & Mayhem (2009)
Magic, Mensa & Mayhem was developed from a series of dragon stories featuring Vern, “a twelve-foot long, eight-hundred-pound dragon", who narrates the story throughout, and who had been put under a spell by St George over 800 years before, and made to serve the Faery Catholic Church, which was “very similar to the Mundane (human) Roman Catholic Church, close enough that we are in communion with each other." But the Faerie world pre-existed the Mundane world, and, as its inhabitants had had nothing to do with original sin, they still live for ever. As dragons are androgynous and untroubled by sexual desires, Vern has no more than a beautiful friendship with Sister Grace.

The two worlds Fairie (or Magical) and Mundane (human) now co-exist with the Gap between them opening up in the town of Pebbles-on-Tweed, the base of Bishop Aiden to whom both Vern and Sister Grace are responsible. And if you think that sounds a little odd, wait until you read the rest of the book that includes elves, dwarves, leprechauns, pixies (who intoxicate themselves sucking helium), naiads (who can only live in water), brownies (invisible tricksters), Valkyrie, Greek muses and demigods.

The fairly incomprehensible plot (complete with references to other episodes that we know nothing about) is not very important but, as the blurb puts it, "The dragon detective, and his partner, the mage Sister Grace, are given an all-expense-paid trip to Florida to chaperone a group of Magicals at a Mensa convention (where Sister Grace is booked to lecture on the theological and stylistic differences betewen Faerie and Mundane liturgical music). Then the pixies start pranking, the Valkyrie starts vamping" and "the elves get high on artificial flavourings". The main mystery at first seems to be how everything gets magically tidied up - not the world's most exciting theme.

However, there are some nice inventions such as "InterdimNet: the Interdimensional Internet. That's right: the Faery world still uses the horse as its major form of land transportation, yet it joined the digital world .... Of course, you need to realise Faery is not like your Mundane world. Before the connection was established, a group of Church mages and techno-mages researched the medium and set up our own protections. We get a lot cleaner product – morally and visually – thanks to the Burning Bush program. And hackers come up against the computerized equivalent of Grace's, 'Karma shield'."

The story may be plain silly, but there are some happy touches with character names such as Imdaboz'ndonchafuggeditt of the House Eternal Winds of the High Elves (pronounced, as a special glossary written by 'Uncle Vern" tells us: "I'm the boss and don't cha forget it") and Galendoropynphordaladys of the House Eternal Winds of the Forest of the High Elves (pronounced Gallant?-or-pimp-for-da-ladies, or Gallant, adore, o, primp for the ladies - it can go both ways. For "the Namer of the Branches for the House Eternal Winds of the Forests of the High Elves had done his celebrating somewhat prior to Galendor's naming ceremony and slurred just a bit. His mom did what she could.") And in case you're wondering, there aren't any low elves for, as Vern explains, “No race wanted to stoop so ... Well, you get the pun.") And there are numerous other equally weak puns too, apparently an authorial family weakness.

Vern himself is quite an entertaining character, as when he explains that “dragons are territorial creatures" so he has made his present location his own. “It's an instinct thing. Don't worry; I didn't 'mark' it." But it appears that this isn't one of his most challenging cases: “More than once, Grace and I have had to save the universes from some fanatical Faerie or maniacal Mundane bent on worlds' domination. In fact, we've done it often enough that we made a classification for it (STUC–Save-the-Universe Case) and developed a rough matrix to determine what fees we charge."

When Vern takes the Mensa test, they arranged to have “enough space cleared that I could settle comfortably and a large smooth board on the floor so I didn't have to take my test at a table. Having to take it in pencil raised some problems, however. They don't make pencils in my size, and I never learned to write the way humans do. Instead, I have one claw specially sharpened to take ink and I write with it; but even though I insisted I could take the test in ink, it was against the rules. I had to hold the pencil pressed between two fingers. Fortunately, it was all fill-in-the-dots, so I managed. Naturally, the test itself didn't prove much of a challenge. I may not have all the knowledge of your world, but one thing I can do is reason. I made short work of it." It is no wonder he considers it below his dignity to give rides to children.

Not all the jokes, though, are all that funny, as when a little girl asked Vern whether he used to eat dinosaurs and he replied “Sometimes." And he tells us, “I leaned a little closer and whispered, 'They taste like chicken.' Don't know what it is about humans, but that joke never gets old." And the jokes about the elaborate long winded-ness of high elves outstay their welcome. The truth is that while the original individual short stories about Vern and Grace probably held the interest, there just isn't enough here to sustain a whole novel and it all gets rather repetitive. But we can share some of the author's fun in writing it.

Vern, the dragon, has his own (rather confusing) website and a myspace page. The prolific author also has a blog (complete with an annoying pop-up mailing list form) and website.

Please sign my GUEST BOOK. All comments, contributions (or corrections) welcomed!


Magic, Mayhem & Mystery cover
The cover is as confusing as the content - but you are not meant to take it too seriously.
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