Review: Sword Play

Sword Play: A Gendarmerie Magique Novel

                            Sword PlayAuthor: Katharina Gerlach

Gold Stars 4Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Recommended Read.

Genre: Contemporary/Fantasy/Crime

Imagine living in a world where magic is the norm and some element or another that would run on electricity in today’s society is either powered by a fantastical creature or a spell. What would it be like to be considered handicapped in this world, so like our own it could simply be a different dimension – Moira knows. She has little to no ability to harness or use magic like the rest of society and coming into contact with a simple spell does nothing but spell trouble. But she is determined to follow her dream of becoming a Gendarmerie Magique (a forensic crime scene analyst) whether she has magical ability or not. When Moira finds herself connected to her latest case in ways she never wants to remember, life and death hang in the balance and the innocent are guilty until proven innocent.

Gerlach’s basic concept of how modern life could be paralleled in a world rich with magic and various creatures of a fantastic nature is a delightfully refreshing view of modern fantasy. Most especially innovative is her development of the nurl – a goblin-like creature who ranges in size from nanite to toddler (depending on their wealth of magical energy). These guys operate everything from building elevators, to coffee makers and answering machines to archivists for museums. Gerlach remains steadfast in her world building introducing new concepts in an easy to read and comprehend way.

I have not read many language-oriented books where a known earth language, like French, is seamlessly woven into the storyline. The narrator feels like a French woman with an excellent grasp of the English language. There are times when she changes or drops an article in the language that immediately brings me back to my early experiences relating to francophone-Canadians – and she is consistent but not excessive with this realistic trait.

The case Moira and her team is investigating builds gradually until you feel as though you must devour one page after another to help piece together the clues. What felt at first like a light-hearted romp in an alternate universe turns into a nail-biting mystery you must see through to the end.

Where Gerlach’s storyline falters is during the romantic element. She overstates Moira’s present tendencies as being directly related to ‘daddy-issues’ in her past and falls into melodrama when the main love interests are crazy about each other. It feels formulaic at best and it’s not always that good. Luckily, this element does not drive the plot but is secondary in nature and does not overshadow the other, wonderful, nuances this piece has to offer.

Review by M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Freelance Writer.

Categories: Book Reviews

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