Aug 11, 2008

Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

Review of Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk. (Roc, November 4, 2008).

The setting is Portland, Oregon where Allie Beckstrom lives in an old apartment she hates because the building stinks of used magic especially when it rains. Although her father is a prominent and wealthy business man, Allie's intense dislike for him means she would rather live in poverty than take any money from him.

She makes a tiny salary by working as a Hound, someone who can trace lines of magic back to its user. In this urban fantasy, magic had been discovered 30 years ago.

Here is what she has to say about magic. "Magic, like booze, sex, and drugs, gave as good as it got. But unlike booze and the rest, magic could do incredible good. In the right hands, used the right way, it could save lives, ease pain, and streamline the complexities of the modern world.... Using magic meant it used you back. Magic always takes its due from the user, and the price is always pain."
In her Hounding work Allie must use magic and she always suffers for it, often with a migraine and a loss of bits of her memory. This day she receives a call from Mama Rossitto who lives in a run down section of the city. One of her boys is hurt. When Allie arrives she finds that magic has been Offloaded to the innocent child while the user goes on without consequences. Allie also discovers that the line of magic has her father's signature.

This event touches off the adventure that comes to take over her life. She encounters the handsome Zayvion who she soon learns works for her father. She finds Zayvion very attractive but considering his employer how could she trust him? Then she sees a newspaper headline that her father has been murdered. The tension mounts when Allie learns she is the primary suspect and is being hunted by a sinister group on the wrong side of magic.

I loved Devon Monk's intricate description of magic and how it is used in this world. Here the magic has a darker aspect than is usually found in other novels of this genre. The characters, all of them, are interesting but not always fully realized. At times it was difficult to understand why certain personalities acted as they did. One exception is a young man named Cory. He has been used, brutalized and discarded by an evil entity, still Cody finds a strength within to survive.

Despite a few misgivings, I found a strong energy and momentum that kept me reading till the last page. I will most certainly read the sequel.

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