Full disclosure: I met Pat at the Milwaukee Area Writer's Guild in Milwaukee. I helped critique this novel, Advice from Pigeons, and I'm even mentioned in the dedication to the book. I'm one of Pat's biggest fans.
Over the years, she's been working on a series of novels and short stories set at the Royal Academy at Osyth. In her universe, magic, wizardry, sorcery, and alchemy are real, and universities teach those skills. Insurance companies have their would-be customers' futures scried before setting rates. Housewares manufacturers ask alchemists to invent new metals for pots and pans.
The novel Advice from Pigeons focuses on Osyth's Demonology Department, especially on Hiram Rho, a new member whose specialty is natural philosophy — he talks to animals and investigates the demons that they attract. Warren Oldham is the current department administrator. Two of his predecessors had been dismembered by demons: dangerous work, investigating demons. It gets worse when a demon starts investigating Hiram Rho.
Pat holds a Ph.D. in Zoology and teaches at a small college. She knows the academic world:
"Rho could not define his situation, but he was sure of three things. First, he would dislike it even more when he figured out what it was; second, it would not count toward tenure; third, it was someone else’s fault. He’d done the right thing, after all. He’d stopped the demon before it could kill any of them, or at least tried to."
"With three magicians gone and three more involved in her asinine plotting, they'd close the program down. And the last time they closed magic down, she reminded herself, they burnt all the magicians. But that was just her being dramatic again. They only burned alchemists in this day and age. People like herself were too ineffectual to bother killing."
I love the way the magic works. If you try to approach the Alchemy Building unbidden, you simply get lost. Although you're looking right at the building, the path somehow takes you somewhere else again and again, and soon you realize you didn't really want to go there anyway.
Osyth has been described as Harry Potter for grown-ups. I've always believed that adults have more fun than kids.
Advice from Pigeons by Patricia S. Bowne
available as an e-book at:
P.S. Double Dragon's books come in many formats without DRM, and it was a pleasure to buy e-books from them.
— Sue Burke