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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom Book 2) by Devon Monk


When I finished the first book in the Allie Beckstrom series, Magic to the Bone, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read the second book, Magic in the Blood.

But something told me to give it another shot. I spent all of that time learning the rules of this world in the first book, perhaps the second book, where we already know the rules, will be better.

It was better. The pacing was much better, and the plot was good without being quite so convoluted.

First, the two things that bothered me, then I'll talk about the good stuff.

I have figured out one of the things that makes these books so tiresome for me: There is no downtime, there is no telling, it's all showing. I know the writer's mantra is supposed to be "show, don't tell", but there are some things it's better to tell. It's okay to tell us she took a cab from her apartment to the police station - showing us the cab ride and letting us be privy to the small talk between Allie and the cab driver is not necessary.

And one of my pet peeves in a book? When an author uses some cheap or hoakie plot devise to keep two people who should be together, apart from each other. The very worst is when two people just miscommunicate, and thankfully we don't have that here. But what we do have is some memory loss that means Allie has to keep getting to know Zayvion all over again. As a reader, I find it tiresome for them to have to go through the same conversations they've already had. I find it tiresome to have to repeat conversations with my mother-in-law, too.

Those are the things I didn't care for. Before I get to the parts I liked, here's the blurb:

"Magic stirred in me, offering whatever I wanted. With little more than a thought and a gesture or two, I could make magic do anything. So long as I was willing to pay the price..."

Allison Beckstrom knows better than most that when magic's involved, nothing is free. She's had to pay its price of migraines and forgetfulness while working as a Hound, tracing illegal spells back to their casters. And even though magic has stolen her recent memory--including her history with the man she supposedly fell in love with--Allie isn't about to give up on Hounding or the city she cares about.

Then the police's magic enforcement division asks her to consult on what seems to be a straightforward missing-persons case. What begins as a way to make rent leads Allie into grave danger when the trail she's following draws her into the dark underworld of criminals, ghosts, and blood magic. There, Allie discovers it will take more than just magic to survive....

I like Allie. She knows what she believes in, and she knows who she is. She knows right from wrong, and she's not afraid to stick up for what's right. She's also got a nice sense of humor - when she has to choose between laugh or cry, she usually chooses laugh.

I also like that she's being an adult with her father's latest wife, and that she is going to... hmmm, I'm heading too close to spoiler territory there, so I'll just say there is a situation there that she handled with grace and tact and I'm very happy for all involved that Allie is going to view things the way she is.

I think I'm going to rate Magic in the Blood an 8 of 10. I'm not really sure about a series rating at this point, so I'll split the difference and give the series a 7 of 10 at this point in time.

Book Rating: Magic in the Blood: 8 of 10
Series Rating: Allie Beckstrom: 7 of 10

1. Magic to the Bone
2. Magic in the Blood
3. Magic in the Shadows
4. Magic on the Storm (May 4, 2010)
5. Magic at the Gate (Nov 2, 2010)

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