Title: Hard Magic
Author: Laura Anne Gilman
Release Date: May 1, 2010
Publisher: Luna Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Bonita Torres has just graduated from college and is unemployed. She’s currently living in a hotel in New York City, courtesy of her wealthy mentor. Bonnie is Talented, which means she has the ability to use magic, but so far that hasn’t helped her to find a job. One day, Bonnie receives a cryptic phone call instructing her to be somewhere at a certain time and place, and she decides to go along, not realizing her life is about to be changed forever.
One of my goals for 2011 was to read more urban fantasy, since I really enjoyed what little paranormal fantasy fiction I read in 2010. Hard Magic was a book I’ve been wanting to read for awhile, especially since the next book in the series Pack of Lies was released in January. I picked it up, eager to immerse myself in a new fantasy version of the world we live in.
Laura Anne Gilman’s worldbuilding was definitely solid in Hard Magic. I’m still left with many questions, but she did a great job setting up the basics of the world – how magic works, how it can be manipulated, and whether there is any governing body setting the rules of magic. I appreciated her vivid descriptions of the processes of using magic; I could close my eyes and picture exactly what Bonnie was doing when she was practicing.
Bonnie was an interesting character, though I have to admit she bothered me at times. Gilman spent a lot of the story setting up her character and personality, so I have a feeling those rough edges will be smoothed over in coming novels. The entire book actually suffers from the “first book in a series” problem – there isn’t a lot going on over the course of the novel. It’s clear that Gilman intended this to be a series from the beginning, so the majority of this book is devoted to setting up the characters, relationships, and organizations that will be put into action in future books. As a result, I think I’ll probably enjoy the next book more than this one.
Despite my mixed feelings about Hard Magic, I do recommend it for those interested in urban fantasy. I think that the next books in the series will be great, now that everything has been set up with this book. I’m sure I’ll be picking up Pack of Lies soon.