Monday, May 24, 2010

Devon Monk - Allie Beckstrom series

Grade: A-
"Using magic meant it used you back. Forget the fairy tale hocus-pocus, wave a wand and bling-o sparkles and pixie dust crap.
Magic, like booze, sex, and drugs, gave as good as it got."

Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom)The above description of the first book applies to the series as well. This Urban Fantasy novel, the debut novel for the author, stands out from the crowd for its description of the laws of magic and details. Every time a magic user uses magic, there are repercussions - if the user is smart, you can set a "disbursement" and hence decide what the cost would be; for eg, an headache. If you don't, the magic decides for itself and takes whatever toll on you it wants, including memory losses. The world itself stays true to what I would imagine could happen if we suddenly discovered magic and magic users - a whole set of rules to establish what is legal/illegal in magic usage, committees to oversee, special departments to enforce. Oh, yes, and later, a secret organization with hidden intentions that operates outside those rules, and self-governs.

Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom)Magic in the Shadows: An Allie Beckstrom Novel
Our intrepid heroine, Allie Beckstrom, herself leads a complicated life, with a lot of memory holes. She comes from a priviledged background, but chooses to live only on what she earns as a Hound for the police, called in when there are magical implications in an open case. She is claustrophobic, headstrong, and loyal to a fault. Definitely a strong lead character. Her abilities also give us some insight into her special genes - she is the only one who might have magic within her, not just drawn into herself from outside.

In the first book,Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom), she discovers her father might be responsible for a murder she is Hounding,  finds and falls for her True Love, and then proceeds to forget this love as a result of uncontrolled magic usage. Fortunately, as the series progresses, she does learn to be more careful about her magic use. The romantic aspect plays a fairly significant role in the Devon Monk books, but the plot unfolds at a good pace across the novels and keeps you entertained throughout.                                Magic on the Storm: An Allie Beckstrom Novel

The second book,Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom), draws her deeper into the underbelly of crime and there are some good action scenes here. The magic gets darker and Allie blurs the line between human and other.
The third book, Magic in the Shadows: An Allie Beckstrom Novel,  felt a little bit like a filler book, and just bridged the gap between other books in the series for me.
The latest released earlier this month, Magic on the Storm: An Allie Beckstrom Novel, and having finished it this weekend, I have to recommend it!
Even though Allie is a bit too headstrong and panders to a standard cliche across urban fantasy, she is a charismatic heroine. The plot twists were predictable, but interesting anyway - Allie finds herself caught in the middle of internal politics in the secret organization she has just joined. The split of the two factions/beliefs is timed exactly when there is a tornado-esque storm bearing down on her city, and in order to save Portland Allie must discover how to use her inner abilities.

The series overall is really fast-paced, and delivers on its promise of an interesting, relatable heroine with plenty of action sequences. There are interesting sidekicks, like the adorable Stone (An animated stone gargoyle). While there are small quibbles - the love-interest is called Zayvion, a name that is too blatantly an attempt to be mysterious, or some predictabilty in the plot, each book is pretty damn good.
Recommended For: Readers of Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong, Ilona Andrews, Dresden files.
Other Reviews: Ink and Paper (Contrasting opinion), Waiting for Fairies

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  1. Thanks for linking to my review, I appreciate it! It's actually Ink and Paper, not Jo-Scrawls - that's just the URL, lol. I've linked to your review too :)


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