BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Quick Pick: Grilled Cheese and Goblins: Adventures of a Supernatural Food Inspector!



Title: Grilled Cheese and Goblins: Adventures of a Supernatural Food Inspector!

Publisher: Blind Eye Books

Author: Nicole Kimberling

Pages: 317pp

Price: $15.95 (Paperback)

The Hook: Keith Curry is a food inspector with the NIAD. Never heard of them? Good. Because unless you are an extra-human entity -- fae, goblin, vampire, witch, whatever -- you are not supposed to know a darn thing about NATO's Irregular Affairs Division. It is the NIAD's sworn duty to protect those non-human beings who secretly reside on Earth, and to keep the general public from finding out and flying into a full-blown panic.

And Keith loves his job. He understands that many people even within the NIAD consider his department a bit of a joke -- but it's not. Imagine what would happen if the guaranteed blood supply for all the vampires living in the United States turned bad, or was poisoned, or the production facility had to be shut down due to contamination? Or, what would happen if a diner that has been designated fae-safe turns out to have an iron problem? What if some of those magical supplements necessary to keep goblins alive on Earth suddenly started to appear in mundane supermarkets? What would happen to ordinary people who accidentally ate goblin food?

The Analysis: Grilled Cheese and Goblins chronicles some of Keith's more memorable adventures, both alone and with his boyfriend-turned-fiance, Gunther Heartman. For example, trying to figure out what a heavy metal band has to do with an underground cannibalism ring and a missing vampire. Or, digging into attacks on NIAD agents and discovering links to a mass pixie kidnapping. Or starting out on a case involving tainted blood packs and uncovering something much bigger and much nastier that leads to a secret military base in Colorado and sentient space planes.

(Gunther, by the way, is a goblin who was given human form in utero. He looks like a super model, adores his parents, eats cigarettes, chugs kerosene, and serves as a member of the NIAD's elite strike force. He's a sexy badass with a sword who likes to cuddle.)

Kimberling's world-building is wide-ranging and imaginative. She draws on every possible myth, fairy tale, or folk tale for inspiration -- but her monsters are never typical, and they are never just monsters. The vampires of this world are more definitely not sexy, and Keith meets at least one who is deathly afraid of humans. And, while goblins traditionally lead a human hunt on the solstice, they are also devoted family members and wonderful singers (really).

The characters are also well-rounded, with hidden depths that come out over the course of the book. Gunther is not just handsome and brave. He is also fiercely loyal to Keith and proud of Keith's work in the NIAD; he does not take it well when anyone speaks ill of his boyfriend. Keith himself comes across as average: middling attractive with a seemingly boring job. But personal tragedy drove him to the NIAD and he knows the importance of his work; and while he starts out thinking of extra-humans as monsters, his attitude evolves over time until he comes to see them as people, too -- different people, but still people with their own needs, thoughts, and cultures.

The Verdict: Grilled Cheese and Goblins is the first collection of the Keith Curry stories: "Cherries Worth Getting," "Cookie Jamboree," "The Little Golden Book of Goblin Stories," "Magically Delicious," "The Most Important Meal of the Day," and "Bring Out Your Best." Most of these have been published elsewhere, but the novella "Bring Out Your Best" is new to this anthology.

And it is a fun collection. There's action, mystery, magic, and even a bit of hanky panky. This is just the thing to beat back the blahs on a rainy afternoon.

Recommended to fans of Astrid Amara, Devon Monk, Helen Harper's The Lazy Girl's Guide to Magic, The Ledberg Runestone by Patrick Donovan, and Jake Bible's Black Box Inc. series.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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