Book Review: Magic on the Storm

Magic on the Storm, Devon Monk (ROC, May 2010)

Cover of the book, Allie swinging a sword with lightning crackling around her

Cover by ROC, an imprint of New American Library

Book four of the Allie Beckstrom Chronicles, 344 pp. At the time of this review (4/3/17), it holds a 4.0-star review on Amazon.

Fantasy: Paranormal, Urban, and Paranormal Romance

Book Obtained By: Christmas Present

My Chocolate Rating: 4 Ghiradelli Salty Caramels (just shy of perfection)

From the jacket

“Magic stirred in me….I closed my eyes, wanting to lose myself to it. Wanting to use magic in every way I could. But that would be bad. I had enough magi inside me; I could burn down a city. And I didn’t want to do that….”

“Allison Beckstrom knows better than most that when magic’s involved, you always pay. Whether the price is migraines, amnesia, or muscle aches, she is committed to her work as a Hound, tracking illegal spells back to their casters. But her job is about to get much more dangerous.

“There’s a storm of apocalyptic force bearing down on Portland, and when it hits, all the magic in the area will turn unstable and destructive. To stop it from taking out the entire city, Allie and her lover, the mysterious Zayvion Jones, must work with the Authority—the enigmatic arbiters of all things magic—and make a stand against the magical wild storm that will obliterate all in its path.”

Review

Magic on the Storm (ROC, May 2010) is book 4 of Devon Monk’s urban fantasy series about Hound Allie Beckstrom. It picks up her story two months after the conclusion of book 3. Monk once more slips in a bunch of the necessary tidbits from book 3 to ground you where life is now in book 4. Sure, you could still jump into the series here, but this book so much springs from what happened in book 3, I’d recommend starting at book 1. Also, this book, while having a conclusion to the character arc warranting the definition of the book being done, still leaves you at a total crossroads because of another character. The ending of the book will clearly be the opening of book 5. ARGH! I’m never a fan when an author does that.

As Allie continues her training, still with the ghost remnants of her dead dad inhabiting her brain, she’s learning the depth of her power against the longtime members of the Authority. With her heritage, but her own resistance to authority, it’s only a matter of time before sparks fly—especially when some of the Authority love to tout, well, their authority!

Monk brings back the ruffian character Shamus, who appropriately goes by the nickname of Shame.  You can count on some great one-lines between Shame and Zay, even when the stake rise. Listen to this description:  “Shame did a fair job at that goth-rocker vibe. Black hair cut with the precision of dull garden shears shaded his eyes. Black T-shirt over a black long-sleeve shirt on top of black jeans, black boots. But behind all that black was a man who wasn’t as young as he looked.”

In the previous book, Monk abandoned one of the side effects to magic—that Allie would lose chunks of her memory. Given some of the tricks that the Authority pulled, this makes me continue to wonder if someone was causing that, and if so, to what end. I had hoped this book might explore that theme.  Nope, looks like we’ll have to dive deeper into the series to see if that story lines gets explained or abandoned, or if the side effect returns. Magic has rules, so I’m trusting Monk that one way or another, she’ll show me a pattern to the amnesia or she’ll explain why it happened and stopped happening or resumes happening.

The book zings along, a mix of action, adventure, Allie’s irreverent introspection and tell-it-like-she-sees it moxy, and sizzling scenes between her and Zayvion—sparring as part of her self-defense courses, getting to know each other, sex scenes, you name it. If you’re reading in public and might get in trouble (say, workplace policies), be prepared to put this book down if things turn remotely steamy, because you never know when Monk will send her characters deeper.

In this book, Monk explores more of what it is to be someone’s magical “soul complement,” a cool concept I enjoyed from the previous book. She explores what can happen when you’re a complement, because it’s typical of magic here—pros and cons together. Characters need to decide what they’ll risk versus what they could gain. Monk explores this theme in two other pairs of characters, giving a nice “big picture” view of why you might want to find that soul complement, and why you might run from it.

Another returning character I love, Stone, her gargoyle, makes a few appearances that, fun as they are, seem contrived because the purpose is to help Allie out of a bind. I’m torn about the effectiveness—I love that her sympathetic magic called the gargoyle to life in book 3; and it’s not a stretch to imagine that the creature is looking out for its “owner.” If you read Magic on the Storm, I’d be interested in how you view those rescues via Stone.

The end of the book, when the big storm hits, didn’t take me by surprise because Monk had been dropping clues about the storm’s magnitude and the positions of the Authority. But, during that scene, which lasted some thirty pages, too often Allie, as the point-of-view character, seemed to be narrating the action as if she were outside it.  I got mad at her, thinking, play an active part in this storm action. Plus, this scene pulled together the full cast of characters–around twenty who are named throughout the storm. It’s a tough road, I think when an author has several threads, and she’s both painting the scene through the first-person narration and the narrator should be kicking butt or getting her butt kicked—Allie does both with equal passion.

Monk weaves together sub-plots, so you’ll learn more about Allie’s method of helping out the Hounds she’s been tasked to help out. That’s never an easy challenge, giving Hounds’ solitary nature. Davy shadows Allie, whether she likes it or not, and that complicates the main story line nicely; as does the inclusion of pregnant Violet (Allie’s step-mother who’s about the same age as Allie) and those magical disks from the previous book that have the power to change magic as Seattle knows it.

I’m still hooked on this series, with at least four more queued up in the bookcase where my purchases and gifts hang out until I have time. If you’ve been hooked on urban fantasy, I hope you’ll give Devon Monk’s series about Allie Beckstrom a read.

Learn more about Devon Monk:

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