David J. Schwartz’s Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib is a serial in what I consider a more traditional format that of The Human Division: that is, each segment is not a self-contained story but is instead clearly a chapter in a longer piece. Additionally, the episodes are coming out at a slower rate (every two weeks) and the overall cost of the story is lower. A major disadvantage is that it’s only available for Kindle. I’m not sure if it’ll be available in print or not when it’s complete.
The first four episodes–a total of five chapters–have been released so far and it’s a lot of fun. Joy Wilkins is an undercover agent in the federal Bureau of Magical Affairs and she’s investigating the disappearance of a professor at Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic as well as teaching her classes–the disappearance may possibly be related to a series of bizarre murders known as Heartstoppers.
There’s a pretty large cast of characters–all delightfully weird and quirky–and while it can be a bit difficult to pick up the thread of the story between episodes, there’s just enough clueing in happening so one isn’t completely lost.
This is a combination of a police procedural with magic but in a slightly more serious vein than Ben Aaronovich’s Peter Grant books. There’s also a whiff of Harry Potter but if Harry Potter were about the professors instead of the students. The setting feels very solid and everything is clearly well thought out. The main character is really interesting in no small part because she’s face-blind so her POV sections are entirely free of descriptions of what people look like and concentrate more on their auras, voices, and clothing. It’s a fascinating choice for a protagonist and I’m looking forward to seeing how things develop.
Lots of neat things going on–there are characters who are literally haunted and cursed, there’s apparently a whole discipline of magic related to libraries which I just love.
I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for, well, this kind of thing.