Fantasy

Dark Alchemy (HarperCollins, Voyager Impulse, 2015, Dark Alchemy trilogy) by Laura Bickle

Magic at the Gate (ROC, 2010, Allie Beckstrom Book 5) by Devon Monk

Magic in the Blood (ROC, May 2010, Allie Beckstrom Book 4) by Devon Monk

Magic in the Shadows (ROC, 2009, Allie Beckstrom Book 3) by Devon Monk

A Promise of Fire (Sourcebooks Casablanca 2017) by Amanda Bouchet

Magic in the Blood (ROC, 2009, Allie Beckstrom Book 2) by Devon Monk

From the jacket: “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. But 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….”

 

Magic in the Blood (ROC, 2009) is book 2 of Devon Monk’s urban fantasy series about Hound Allie Beckstrom. It picks up her story not long after the conclusion of book 1. In Monk’s version of Seattle, magic flows through the world in lighting, through the ground, and through the manufactured conduits meant to trap it for use. It’s not necessary to have read book one, as Monk builds her world quickly and incorporates the details of magic into Allie’s everyday life, such as choosing to live in an apartment where the decaying smell of old magic doesn’t seep out of the walls. In this world, magic will bite you in the ass, hard, for using it.

As a Hound, Allie makes her living tracing spells back to find the caster who avoided that consequence by “offloading” it on an innocent. Meanwhile, to do her job, Allie often needs to use magic. She keeps a journal because magic also steals pieces of her memory, on top of the other physical costs. No matter her need, she resists using the abusive Influence she inherited from her bad-ass (now deceased) power-mongering father. Her view of their relationship reveals her character, and is just one of the many reasons I admire her. Her tell-it-like-it-is attitude and down-to-earth nature are two others.

Magic has mixed things up for her because of book one, showing her a side that few know about, and even fewer understand. The one person who might, sexy bodyguard Zayvion Jones (Zay), might once have been her boyfriend, but she doesn’t remember other than what she wrote in her journal, and what he said to her near the end of book one.

The first-person narration drew me in. Allie’s got a no-nonsense attitude, paired with a lone-wolf style of working. I knew she’d get in over her head, and that’s when the story would sizzle.

Monk kept raising the stakes for Allie, pulling in more and more characters from book one. Between an event in the first page of the book and a scene in the second chapter, Monk set the pace fast and kept it driving through the novel. Even when Allie seems to catch a break, I know Monk’s going to make her pay for any moment of happiness, friendship, or even the fine cup of coffee at her favorite place, Get Mugged.

If you’ve read book one, you’ll bring some knowledge to the table that it seems Allie has forgotten, and colors how I’m looking at the magical community. In this book, Monk delivered in spades on it. Since Zay seems like he’ll be a recurring character in the series, it’s possible he’ll have that “forgotten” conversation with her in another book. Then again, since he doesn’t know she’s forgotten it….

Monk plays with that memory loss, sometimes making it fun, and sometimes using it to increase the tension. When Allie’s in trouble, she’s not always sure who she can trust.

As a foil, Zay is great with the magic he brings to the table. I’m still not sure what it costs when he uses magic. I’m hoping Monk will show me in a future book.

If you want a solid urban fantasy, a strong female, pick up book two of the Allie Beckstrom series.