I don't know if this is a universal thing among Odds, but I have a real thing for crack. No, I'm not talking about the drug, so don't worry. I'm talking about silly and/or bad ideas that are somehow made brilliant in their execution -- usually because the writer hangs a lampshade on it and says, "Screw it. I'm going to have fun, and I don't care who judges me." Take Sharknado, for instance. I was actually disappointed that they tried to put in a lame backstory for the plucky barmaid. Next time, they should dispense with that and just stick to delivering the wind-propelled man-eating fish. When I'm looking for schlock, I want schlock, damn it!
At any rate, Karina Fabian's Magic, Mensa & Mayhem definitely falls in the above-mentioned "crack" category. A dragon and a nun from an alternate magical Earth team up to solve mysteries and occasionally save the universe? You had me at "nun." In my opinion, virtually every story can be made 3000% better by inserting a nun. Nuns are awesome -- and Grace, one of Karina's main characters, is certainly no exception. She reminds me of the orthodox but sassy Franciscan sister who heads our diocese's Respect Life Office -- especially when, in this novel, she gets into a fight with one of the muses. Yes -- sometimes putting someone in her place is worth a trip to Confession. (Just kidding, Lord. Sort of.)
Really, this whole book was a cute, refreshing read. I enjoyed the Catholic jokes, the light jabs at environmentalists and modern "arteests," and the suggestion that diet cola is the elven version of crystal meth. It takes a while for the whole plot to come together, but when it finally does, it's satisfying -- and each little episode along the way contains at least one line or incident that makes you smile. Honestly, I respect any author brave enough to tackle humor and talented enough to do it right. Kudos to you, Karina! I definitely look forward to reading the rest of the stories in this series!
Final Verdict: Recommended.