“You’re Heavy Jake Sullivan, aren’t you?”
“I was afraid of that.”
Larry Correia delivers another exciting magical alternate history with Spellbound, the second of his GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES. After Jake Sullivan and the gang took care of the German zombies, the Japanese Iron Guard, and Nikola Tesla’s peace ray in Hard Magic, the magicals are needed again to thwart new threats to the country. This is hard to do, though, after they’ve been framed for the attempted assassination of President Roosevelt. Public approval for magicals is low and opposition groups are organizing to march on Washington. FDR decides that magic must be regulated and proposes a new-deal-type law that will require all magicals to register with the government and wear an identification badge.
Meanwhile, after receiving a phone call from Hell, the Grimnoir recognize that there’s a much greater magical threat that the American citizens are unaware of. Only the Grimnoir are equipped to handle it. Frustrated, they must take care of this alien evil while hiding from the government. Fortunately, they do have some really awesome magical powers, an unexpected powerful ally, and a lot of guns.
Once again, I’m surprised to find myself enjoying Larry Correia’s testosterone-pumping, gun-toting, blood-spurting, heads-rolling story, but there’s a lot more here than guns, guts and gore. There’s a large diverse set of likeable and fully-developed fictional and real historical characters, an interesting historical backdrop, plenty of action and suspense, some blood-chilling moments, and a few quirky elements, too, such as an army of robots and a black hole.
There’s also quite a bit of dark humor, which blends perfectly to lighten the mood just a bit when things get scary. I was always entertained by the scenes in which Lance takes over the body of an animal. I also love the adapted quotes at the beginning of the chapters, which put the story in its historical context. For example, one is from the New York Commissioner of Boxing who explains how, after Jack Johnson beat the Great White Hope, they bribed a referee and snuck in a Brute to end Johnson’s career (“Gotta keep the sport pure, y’know?”).
Bronson Pinchot’s performance in the audio version of Spellbound is nothing short of brilliant. There’s a large international cast here and Pinchot handles all of those accents with ease. He perfectly captures the excitement, horror, and humor of Spellbound. If you don’t read audiobooks, you might consider starting with this series. It’s a perfect example of how good audio can get.
There’s danger on the horizon, American opinion about magicals is unstable (are they public heroes or public enemies?), and many questions remain about the Power, its motives, and Faye’s ties to it. I’m looking forward to the next GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES book.