Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman

Title: Hard Magic (Paranormal Scene Investigations #1)
Author: Laura Anne Gilman
Release Date: 5/1/2010
Publisher:  Luna
Number of pages:  352

ISBN: 0373803133

Copy received from Net Galley

Description from publisher:

My name’s Bonnie Torres. Recent college grad, magic-user and severely unemployed—until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn’t applied for. It smelled fishy, but the brutal truth was I needed the work,so off I went. Two days later, I’m part of the Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations (PUPI) team with four other twenty-somethings, thrown into an entirely new career in forensic magic. The first job we get is a doozy: proving that the deaths of two Talents were murder, not suicide. Worse, there are high-profile people who want us to close up shop and go away.  Looks like this job is gonna get interesting. The only problem is, we’re making it up as we go along.…

My thoughts:

In Hard Magic the people who have the ability to use current to make magic are known as Talents. The current can be found within their own core or borrowed from man made sources. Even though they live in the same world we do they have a separate community with different rules and ways of life. This community is referred to as Cosa Nostradamus. This will sound familiar to those who have read Laura Anne Gilman’s Retrievers series. I have not read this series but hope to at some point. The main character, Bonnie was first introduced in the Retrievers series. Bonnie is a twenty something Talent who is struggling to become independent from her mentor, J. He became like a father to her after her own father’s death and is supporting her financially while she looks for a job. As much as she appreciates his kindness she wants to stand on her own two feet for a change. Joining PUPI seems like a perfect way for her to achieve the independence she is seeking.

Hard Magic read kind of like an episode of CSI but the investigators in the book get to use magic to help find the perpetrator. The focus is pretty heavy on the techy side of crime scene investigating. The PUPI team need to learn to lift prints, expose blood splatter, and extract trace evidence using their magical abilities. The author really went all out to create a complex world for her characters to live and work in. With it being the first book of a new series the author had to focus a good chunk of the story on explaining the world and briefing us on the backstories of the characters.  It took me about 75 pages to really grasp everything that was going on. By the half way point I finally felt at home in the Cosa Nostradamus community and I was fully invested in the characters lives and struggles.

I will definitely read the next book in the series because I’m curious to see what happens next with Bonnie and the rest of the PUPI team. This is a solid start to what I think will be a fascinating urban fantasy series.

Laura Anne Gilman’s website has an excellent FAQ section about the Retriever and Paranormal Scene Investigations series that I wish I would have read prior to starting Hard Magic. It might be helpful for others that plan to read Hard Magic without having first read the Retrievers series.

Want to find out more about Laura Anne Gilman and her books.
Website | LiveJournal

Hard Magic will be release on May 1st.
It’s available for pre-order on Amazon.


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  2. Well, the premise to the story definitely sounds interesting to me. I LOVE crime scene investigation stuff - it's so interesting! And with a magical, paranormal element to it, it just sounds all the more intriguing.

  3. It was good and different from what I usually read. I’ve heard the Retrievers series has more action. Definitely going to check that one out soon.

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