David J. Schwartz


Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib (2013)

Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib (2013)

gooseberrybluffAfter I finished reading, I discovered this had originally been a kindle serial, which explains the pacing. But don’t take that as a negative, this is actually a pretty good story.

Joy works for the Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs (FMBA) and is currently working undercover at Goseberry Bluff Community College of Magic. Her assignment is twofold–to discover where professor Carla Drake has gone, and discover who is trafficking demons through Gooseberry Bluff. Additionally, Joy suffers from face-blindness–she cannot recognize people from their faces, but she is able to recognize their auras.

Yes, at times it’s all over the place, but not in a horrible way, and there are so many delightful things that more than make up for some of the stranger bits.

For example:

“Dating is like… it’s like watching TV. Both place too much emphasis on appearances, both can be fun at first but quickly become tedious, and neither feels real. The main difference is that there isn’t a magical remote control that enables you to switch men in the middle of a date.”

“Not yet,” said Rosemary. “Invent that. We’ll split the profits.”

and this bit:

Hector put up his hands. “I feel like you’re steamrolling me.”

“We’re the United States government, Mr. Ay. We’re not the enemy… but yes, we’re steamrolling you. Sign the paper, please.”

There are lots of little tidbits like that strewn throughout the story.

The story also has something else that’s very interesting: it has the full complement of humans you might come across in your day-to-day life, and these just appear without any fanfare, much like these individuals would appear in your own life. For instance, Andy.

During Joy’s orientation, Andy had shaken her hand and said: “Hi, I’m Andy. I’m genderqueer and I often wear women’s clothes here in the office. I hope that won’t make you uncomfortable.” Joy wasn’t sure what genderqueer meant— she’d since learned that it was an umbrella term for persons who identified outside of the male-female gender binary— but she had assured Andy that she had no problem with it.

And from there on out, he’s just Andy.

It’s the same way with other characters. They are described as being non-white or having non-white names, but those traits are incidental–what is important is the story and the mystery of what happened to Carla Drake, and why.

ALSO, the story has L-Space. It’s not called that, but it’s precisely what it is:

“Can I ask you a question about the stacks?”

“Go right ahead.”

“Where do they go to? There’s some spatial distortion at work here, right?”

“Oh, yes. It’s the new wave in library magic. Why, I can walk straight from here to the National Archives, the Library of Congress, or the Smithsonian — I mean, you have to have the right clearances; I can’t just roll into the White House, or Langley. But it’s awful convenient. Lots of public libraries are doing it now, too.”


It’s just a fun read, with lots of surprises. Fun!

Published by 47North
Rating: 7/10