Date Published: May 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 130
Print Price: $4.99
eBook Price: $
Greater Treasures by Karina Fabian is a comedic detective story with a hint of fantasy and a Catholic twist.
Vern is a feisty dragon who manages a detective agency on the border between the Faerie and Mundane worlds alongside his nun-partner, Sister Grace. When presented with a case regarding a 'missing sibling' from a theatrical client named Eva, he has his suspicions as to its validity, but decides to take the case anyway. While pursuing a possible lead, Sister Grace is shot by a poisoned dart, adding "antidote" to the dragon's list. Vern eventually discovers that the key to the case is a much desired lance. Legend has it that the Lance has supernatural powers because it was the one used by a Roman soldier to pierce the side of Jesus at the time of the Crucifixion. He races against time to both find the antidote and keep the Lance out of the wrong hands. In the end, he will discover that there are many shifty characters in the story and that it is his own heart that will save Grace from certain death.
As a Catholic who has always delighted in fantasy stories, I was pleased to find a story that integrated both elements. Greater Treasures is an intriguing page-turner filled with mystery and suspense. The novel is characterized by cleverly constructed prose and witty turn-of-phrase. It is lighthearted fare, but not without meaning.
Fabian made the wonderful choice of writing in the first person perspective. I enjoyed reading from Vern the dragon's point-of-view. His personality radiates from every page. Despite the short length of the novella, Vern is established as a complex character. While he is snarky and, at times, a bit aggressive, he also has a big heart and cares deeply about his friend, Sister Grace. Through the unmasking of his tough exterior is demonstrated the redemptive power and beauty of true love for a friend. In the end, it is (literally) his own blood that will save her. As such, love and sacrifice are two important themes explored in this novella. A sense of right and wrong is also key, exemplified by a remark by Vern to a less scrupulous man: "My morality is God's."
While religious elements are tactfully included, often with a delightfully imaginative presentation, a greater distinction between magic and spirituality would have been beneficial given the closely-woven interplay between the two in the story. The fact that the threads of spell-casting and prayer are so interconnected might lend itself to an unintended misinterpretation by the reader, especially the non-religious one, that the two are equivalent. (Example: as the gravely ill Sister Grace is unconscious in the hospital- "Together, we murmured a prayer to reactivate the spell. I felt a slight tingle of magic, but it was weak. The charm has been totally sapped. Father Rich put it back on Grace's neck, being careful of the ventilator.") Sister Grace is presented as a religious "high mage" who practices magic as part of the "Faerie Catholic Church". On the other hand, I found the redemption of Vern, particularly his "penance" of good detective deeds, to be a creative, unique inclusion with powerful symbolism and a profound message. I also enjoyed the "cute" side of the Catholic dragon concept; the idea of an enormous dragon praying the rosary presents an amusing, but sweet, image in the mind of the reader.
References to pop culture, such as sci-fi shows and old movies, will also be appreciated by fans of those genres. A tribute to Maltese Falcon in particular is established, as the plot of the movie is interconnected with that of the novel. However, in the words of Vern, "The world wanted to star me in Maltese Falcon; fine, but I was changing the script".
Greater Treasures is an enjoyable story that may be appreciated by a variety of audiences, and served as a nice break from this reader's work schedule.Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.3 inches
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