Hard Magic - a worthy mix of multiple genres
Hard Magic kicks off the Grimnoir Chronicles which turns out to be a difficult series to categorize. It takes elements of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Steampunk, and Alternate History and mashes them all into a noir style story worthy of a graphic novel. None of that really sounds like my kind of thing but I found this book compelling right from the start. Set in the 1930s, this alternate history has 1% of the population with some kind of magical ability, and the strongest of them are known as Actives. The World War is over, alcohol is still illegal in the US, and Jake Sullivan is down on his luck just trying to get out the hole he finds himself in. A former war hero and ex-con, Jake just has one more job to do for the government before his debt to society is paid and then he can go on with his life as a private investigator. Jake is also a Heavy, a powerful Active capable of manipulating gravity, so it is unlikely that the US government is just going to let him walk away when this job is over...
Jake is a plain spoken regular Joe who just wants a simple life, but he is about to get sucked into a shadow war between the power hungry Imperium and the Grimnoir Society, a secret group of Actives that have banded together to protect the world from evil. Although the magic in this series manifests itself in comic book style super powers, it also has a basic structure similar to the Allomancy system from the Mistborn series, which is saying something. Jake is just one of many interesting characters in this book and the overall plot turns out to be deeper than expected with some interesting twists along the way.
There are plenty of reasons why I wouldn't expect to like this series yet here I am eagerly moving on to the second book. If you are looking for something fun that is different from the myriad of similar Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels available then don't hesitate to give this one a chance. Bronson Pinchot narrates the audiobook version and he knocks it out of the park with his performance.