When I interviewed Larry Correia a couple of months ago, I had read some of his Monster Hunter International books, but I had not read any of the Grimnoir Chronicles series. I didn’t know much about the series, but based on the cover of the first book, Hard Magic, I guessed it was a 1930s hard-boiled detective novel, plus magic, and that didn’t really pique my interest. But since I’ve recently been listening to audiobooks at a rate of more than one per week, and the first two books in the series had won Audie awards, I decided to give the first one a try.
I’m glad I did. I listened to the entire trilogy in short order, and I loved the Grimnoir Chronicles even more than the MHI series. It’s part fantasy, part science fiction, part alternate history, part superhero — and completely awesome.
The books take place in the 1930s, but in a timeline in which people (referred to as Actives) started gaining magical powers in the 1800s. They follow the adventures of Jake Sullivan, an unjustly imprisoned war-hero/private-eye with the power to manipulate gravity; Faye Vierra, a whip-smart teenage refugee from the Dust Bowl with the power to teleport; and various other characters with magical powers who make up the Grimnoir Society, which is dedicated to protecting Actives from regular humans and vice versa.
I thought all the major characters were distinctive and memorable (in part due to Bronson Pinchot’s excellent narration — there’s a reason the audiobooks have won awards), and I enjoyed spotting the names of some people I know in more minor roles. The explanation for why magic exists in this world is fascinating, with major plot implications for the course of the trilogy. The books are filled with humor and action, but also have some interesting things to say about free will, among other philosophical issues.