- Title: Magic to the Bone
- Author: Devon Monk
- Series: Allie Beckstrom #1
- Genre: UF, PNR
- Format: Audio Book
- Source: Overdrive Library
- Reviewed by: Sonja
- Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Description: 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 innocents. 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 strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magic Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.
Now Allie’s out for the truth – and must call upon forces that will challenge 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.
Review: This is one of those books for which I never should have read reviews. The premise intrigued me – that using magic extracted a price: in Allie’s case, memories – but the reviews were all kind of – meh. They also gave me the impression that this book was more romance than urban fantasy. Since I buy most of the books I read, I was hesitant to start this series with such mediocre reviews. I did, however, find the audio book at the library, so I thought I would give it a try. I am so glad I did – I loved it. Now, make no mistake, this is very much a ‘first book’, but the world it builds leaves much promise. I checked the 2nd audio book out of the library, them purchased the remaining books – I read through the last 7 books of the series in less than a week. A week that included a trip to Disney World. It is THAT good.
Allie is a hound. She is able to trace magic back to the person who used it. The price of using her magic to often results in the loss of her memories – not always, sometimes it is pain, and she tries to set a disbursement to result in the pain of her choosing . Because she does so frequently lose her memories, she keeps a notebook to note things that happen and conclusions she has reached so that when her memories are lost, she has a way of retrieving at least some of them. She also has a friend, Nola, with whom she keeps in close contact that she shares much of the same information. She jokes that Nola has more of her memories than she does.
The book begins as an old acquaintance of Allie’s calls with a sick child and asks Allie to come determine who has done this to him. Allie traces the magic back to her father from whom she is estranged. She hasn’t seen the man in years. Nonetheless, she wastes no time making tracks to her father’s office and accusing him of hurting ‘the boy’. Even when her father encourages her to use blood magic to determine the truth of his denial, she refuses to believe he is innocent of the charge. When he is found dead shortly thereafter, the police trace the magic back to her and thus begins our journey into Allie’s world.
As is usual in a ‘first book’, there is quite a bit of world building going on here. We see how magic affects its users and how the world uses magic for both good and bad. We see the relationships around Allie that affect her both positively and negatively. But, in addition to that, there is a mystery. There is the mystery of who hurt boy and killed Allie’s father. My one gripe with the mystery is that we are not given the clues to unravel the mystery for ourselves.
The reader for this book is amazing. She does such a good job that as I read further in the series instead of listening, I still heard her intonations and characterizations. She handles the snark and sarcasm just right for me and does just enough voice changing to keep up with who is saying what. In addition, the ‘Cody’ chapters (arguably my least favorite and, I felt, most intrusive parts of the book) were obvious and well done.
I did not like the way it ended. Oh, not that it did or didn’t end happily ever after. Not even that it is so obviously the beginning of a series. It was the way everything is finished and concluded, and then there is more. It felt like an addendum. That people and situations were brought in right at the last minute just so that it could be the first book in a series rather than as a standalone book. And, maybe the author felt like, “Ooh, I shouldn’t have done that so now let me mostly undo it.” I found it a tad annoying. Did not stop me from moving forward in the series, but it certainly did not encourage it either.
It is amazing to me that I enjoyed this book as much as I did when it starts out with such a too stupid to live moment. I mean, seriously. Allie doesn’t question her father’s guilt. Not even when the blood magic points to him being truthful. Nor does she begin to suspect something is fishy when hounding points to her guilt in the death of her father. I usually do not tolerate this level of stupidity. However, there is just something loveable about Allie. Maybe it is just her level of snark. Maybe it is the absence of vampires and werewolves. Maybe it is her friendship with Nola. Or, it could be Cody’s darn kitten. Mostly, I think, it is Allie. Her love, devotion, and protection of those around her. As usual, it is this type of heroine with which I empathize. At any rate, I loved the story and I loved the characters.
I give this one 3.5 stars – rounded up to 4. It gets graded down for the ‘Cody’ chapters, the stupid added on ending and the TSTL beginning. But, it gets rounded up because I just loved it anyway.