Sunday Review: Gooseberry Bluff

August 4, 2013

Hello, friends!  I just finished this latest kindle book a few days ago and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to share it with you right away!  Like, right now!


Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib by David J. Schwartz is as amazing as it sounds because, well, it is, in fact, about a community college of magic.  But, if you’re thinking that this is where Harry’s less successful classmates went post-Hogwarts (we’re thinking of you, Malfoy), then think again.  Gooseberry Bluff is actually a hotbed of illegal demon activity where main character, Joy Wilkins, is an undercover FBMA agent – that’s the Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs – as an innocuous college professor.  What sets this book apart is that it was originally released as a kindle serial, or a book delivered in parts, or “episodes,” every couple weeks.  Luckily, I discovered this book after it was already several episodes in so I didn’t have to wait long to get the last chapters; because, any book that is described as “fantasy adventure that’s equal parts Harry Potter and The X-Files” is right up my alley!

I really enjoyed the supernatural fantasy aspect of the story, but what really kept me reading were the suspenseful action scenes.  Filled with magical duels, demons, curses, a little bit of romance and enough mystery to keep you guessing until the end, this novel was jam-packed from page one.  I will admit that there are a lot of characters and it was just a little confusing in the beginning, but that might have had something to do with the fact that I was reading another book at the same time.  Besides, by the end of the book, I was literally holding my breath during the climax of the action to see what was going to happen!  The wrap-up at the very end of the novel was also very quick, but after the crazy climactic scene before, I was ready to see how everything tied together.  Harry Potter meets The X-Files indeed!

I loved the premise of the story: an undercover magical affairs agent at a community college for magic is a recipe for an amazing Joss Whedon show if ever I heard one, and it didn’t disappoint.  I would say it was more X-Files than J. K. Rowling, but I have always loved a good crime drama so that didn’t bother me at all.  And, there was still plenty of innocent, magical fun to channel the world of Hogwarts and Platform 9 ¾ to keep it light and amusing.  (For example, a magical library with cats that may or may not understand you when you speak to them.)  There were also a few, um, interesting plot twists, but the book was cheeky and fun enough to carry it all off.  I would say, however, that you definitely have to have a sense of humor to enjoy this book; i.e. do not expect to take this novel too seriously.

As for the format, this was my first time reading a kindle serial, but the concept has intrigued me for a while.  I liked the nostalgic feel of receiving the story in parts like “back in the day” when people used to read stories from the likes of Edgar Allen Poe in popular periodicals.  Plus, there was the fun – or torture – of reading a suspenseful adventure fantasy and waiting for the next installment after a gripping cliffhanger!  Because all of the episodes have been released, the book is now available as a regular kindle novel on Amazon here (for only $3.99).  I will definitely consider reading more kindle serials, but if you are not a particularly patient person, then this format may not be for you.

All in all, I found Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib to be an entertaining read and I would heartily welcome a sequel, or perhaps even a spin-off T.V. series?!  A girl can dream, right?

As always, thanks for reading :)


More reviews you might be interested in:

Star Trek Into Darkness // Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn // Fowl Weather by Bob Tarte


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