Magic on the Hunt, Devon Monk (Roc, 2011)
346 pp. At the time of this review (12/24/17), it holds a 4.3-star review on Amazon with 34 reviews.
Cover Design, no attribution given
Book Obtained By: Christmas gift because I loved her first books in the series and asked for the rest.
My Chocolate Rating on Scale of 5: 4.5 Ghirardelli Salty Caramels (just shy of perfection)
From the jacket
“In theory, I could call on enough magic to burn this place to the ground. But the price I’d have to pay would be as big as the spell I cast, and then I’d be nothing but ashes and burnt bones.”
There aren’t many girls who can say they’ve gone into the realm of death and lived to tell the tale. But to restore her lover Zayvion’s soul, Allison Beckstrom had to pay a bitter price—and things are about to get worse….
It turns out the leader of the Authority, the council that decides what can—and can’t—be done with magic, is being held hostage. But when the trail leads Allie and Zayvion to the secret prison where the Authority locks away magical criminals who are too dangerous to be held anywhere else, they find more than they bargained for. An undead magic user has possessed one of the prisoners, and he wants his freedom—and then some. Now Allie and Zayvion are the first line of defense against the chaos he’s about to unleash on the city of Portland….
Magic on the Hunt, Devon Monk (Roc, 2011)
***Contains spoilers from previous books in the series, but none from this book***
If you want a female character with her share of guts, concern for others above herself, and a fierce need to keep her dead dad from taking over her mind, look no farther than Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom. If she’s standing alongside the magic users she trusts, or her beloved “hounds” are in danger, she’s not backing down for any reason. As a hound, Allie chases cast spells back to magic users who have “offloaded” the price of the spell casting onto someone else—because casting magic always comes with a cost.
This book doesn’t see her hound a lot, but when she does, stakes make it important for her to find her targets. Monk guides me in the casting, making me feel like I’m next to Allie, seeing the intricate lines of a spell when she casts Sight; tasting the mark of the spell-caster as only a hound with a sensitive nose can.
If you like snarky comebacks, Allie deals them in spades, especially when one of her friends tries to keep her out of a fight: “Stand back, let you get the bruises, then ride to the rescue. Check.” She’ll have a sharp reply even when she’s up against a villain slinging Death magic. Her days of deferring to her father, Daniel, ended a long time ago, so a little thing like him hitching a ride in her brain isn’t going to stop her from giving him plenty of sass. With Daniel, I still never know when he’s doing something for his own ends, or to protect Allie for any reason other than he’s cheating death by the piece of his soul hitching a ride in her brain.
Stakes rise in this book from the last one, with Monk revealing the powers set to battle over Portland, over the magic that the Authority has long controlled. Prepare to have fun with Monk’s description of the magic surrounding the prison—she had me picturing an Escher drawing, laced with magic. And the folks locked up there? She’s got novel potential on his own when she gets to the villain.
You’ll worry for Allie’s friends on a whole new level, as Monk weaves in the characters we’ve grown to love in earlier books—her best friend Nola and adopted son Cody; Hound Davey Stivers; the pregnant Violet (her dad’s wife, and a woman about Allie’s own age).
The book may start with romance, but that aspect takes a back seat with all the action crammed in here. I don’t miss the romance, because I’m reading for Allie’s story, and I have no doubt of the depth of love Allie and Zayvion share. Monk is holding her characters to an incredibly tight time-line across the series. Tons happened in the previous book (5), and only a few days have elapsed. With all my favorite magic users running on empty, what will go right in their spell-casting, and what will go wrong? That sense of exhaustion comes through, and I worry at the cost of this battle for magic’s control. As Daniel Beckstrom says, “What matters is deciding what our enemy really wants, what his end goal is, and stopping that before it is too late.” Will they figure it out before it’s too late? And even if they do, are they strong enough to stop their enemy?
It may have taken me a month to read the book, but that comes from the chaos of the Christmas season. This is a solidly written book, lots of conflict, rising tension, dialogue that fits the characters, and characters who I love and hate, trust and mis-trust—the same as Allie. If you enjoy urban fantasy and haven’t read Monk yet, grab that first book in the series and see if it hooks you the way it hooked me.
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