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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.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom Book 1) by Devon Monk


Magic to the Bone is the first book of the Allie Beckstrom series. So far there are no supernatural mythological creatures - no vampires or werewolves or fairies. In Allie's world, humans have discovered Magic, and they use it in similar ways as we humans have harnessed and used electricity. Human have found ways to harness magic from storms (lightning rod type things) and they've found ways to run it around the city with iron and glass conduits. The trick is that Magic requires a personal cost, you use Magic, it uses you back. Some people found ways to Offload the kickback, to divert it to innocents. So now there are laws against that, and there are people called Hounds, who can track magic back to the original caster. And that is what Allie does - she's a Hound.

Wow, it's taking a lot of set up for me to begin to review the book, isn't it? And that's part of the problem with the book. The complex rules in this world, the relationships between people... most of the book is taken up with explanations and not action. And even with all of the explanations, I feel like we know less than a tenth of the rules of this world.

I did not love this book while I was reading it. I didn't even like it very much. I set it aside a few times, almost didn't finish it. Now that I've finished it I like it a little better, but I'm debating about whether I'll read the second book. Or not. Here's the blurb:

"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."

Everything has a cost. And every act of magic exacts a price from its user--maybe a two-day migraine, or losing the memory of your first kiss. But some people want to use magic without paying, and they offload the cost onto an innocent. When that happens, it falls to a Hound to identify the spell's caster--and Allison Beckstrom's the best there is.

Daughter of a prominent Portland businessman, Allie would rather moonlight as a Hound than accept the family fortune--and the many strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magical offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.

Now, Allie's out for the truth--and the forces she finds herself calling on will overturn everything she knows, change her in ways she could never imagine...and make her capable of things that powerful people will do anything to control.

There is a lot of action, but with the already mentioned explanations and history needed for the story and the world, the pacing just isn't quite there. And I get really annoyed by the fact that a major plot device is going to be Allie's memory loss issues.

I don't really know how to rate Magic to the Bone. I'm mostly okay with the ending (minus the memory loss stuff), but I really didn't enjoy a lot of it while it was happening. I think I'm going to give it a 6 of 10. I've read a lot of new series over the last couple of months, and most of them have been a pleasant surprise. This isn't really a new series, but it's new to me... and Magic to the Bone fell short for me.

One final note: There is a sex scene - not physical sex, but magical sex - that is a very good read. Great imagination, great use of the magic available in this world.

Book Rating: Magic to the Bone:
6 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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