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Review: Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman

26 Jan

Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman
Trade: $14.95
Harlequin-Luna (May 2010)
ISBN: 978-0-373-80313-2

Welcome to P.U.P.I.—Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations

A handpicked team trained to solve crimes the regular police can’t touch—crimes of magic.

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 a PUPI—me and Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr. Five twentysomethings, 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. We’re sniffing out things they’d rather keep buried.

Looks as if this job is gonna get interesting. The only problem is, we’re making it up as we go along….

Laura Anne Gilman’s newest series Paranormal Scene Investigations is a cute, out of the ordinary spin in the paranormal bookiverse. It’s set in the same world as her Retrievers series, but if this is your first foray into Gilman’s paranormal worlds you should be fine.

Hard Magic tells magic user Bonnie Torres’ story from a first person point of view. Bonnie grew up in two worlds: lonejacker and Council. Lonejackers wield magic on their own. They do what they want, when they want and are not policed. Council is the exact opposite. The two normally do not mix. They do for Bonnie who was born and raised for part of her life as the child of a lonejacker. After her father was murdered, she became the ward of her mentor who was Council all the way. Her experiences helped create a woman who can see more than one side and makes her a valuable asset to the team.

However it was her search for a job after college that  I related to. That initially drew me in. After a while, I don’t know what held me. It’s not like the story is packed with action or suspense, and there was no true love to be had at the end. No, it’s not a romance. It is an urban fantasy which creates an entirely fictional protocol for handling crimes committed with magic. It lives up to its CSI-like name, and that is why I continued reading the story.

I’m not too interested in Bonnie or her co-workers, but her bosses…yeah–I want to know it all. I want to know where they come from and what makes them tick. I want them to succeed at making the world a better place for everyone. I want the magical assholes of the world to deal with exposure just as the regular jerks do. This story is about making that possible. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get bored while reading about the PUPI’s search for a magical killer. Now it’s time for the only question that matters:

Would I recommend this book to a friend? I don’t know. It’s not exciting, but it does drag you in. When I finished the book I was curious enough to read book two, Pack of Lies. It was only after reading that book that I decided to continue the series. If you decide to read Hard Magic keep an open mind, think of it as an introduction to a new world and enjoy it.