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Monday, December 21, 2009:
Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk (2008) - quickie review
"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 an innocent. 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 many strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magical offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.

Now, Allie's out for the truth--and the forces she finds herself calling on will overturn 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.

One of my Twitter pals, Susi Sunshine, had recommended these books to me via her comments via, and I admit, being in my Urban Fantasy phase, I was quite intrigued. I admit I'd not heard much of Devon Monk before, and I'm not sure why, but it doesn't fail to surprise me very much, as I tend to live in a bubble from time to time. Thank God for readers who care *g*

Allie Beckstrom hails from a rich and influential family, but she turned her back on that to practice magic her way. Allie is good at finding magic trails, hence the her ability as a Hound. On the day of her 25th birthday, all set to enjoy a cup of coffee and forget her money woes for a short while, Allie is called to the establishment of Mama, a woman he's helped in the past. All set to decline the offer, Allie cannot ignore the frantic pleas of the woman asking for her help. Sighing in defeat, she makes her way to the bad part of the city, and discovers what has Mama so upset: one of her boys, only a small child, is unconscious, the cause being an Offload of magic; someone had used this boy as a conduit to perform illegal magic, and because magic always takes its price, now his life is threatened because of the amount of magic used.
Allie is furious that anyone would deliberately harm a child, and even moreso when it becomes evident that the person whose signature she tracks belongs to her own father. Though she hasn't seen him in years, Allie has no reluctance about confronting him.
Coming along for the ride is Zayvion Jones, a mysterious man who may or may not be working for her father. Allie doesn't know much about Zayvion, other than he's a fine-looking man and fairly new to the area. She's not sure she can trust him, but she feels a bit better knowing she's not going alone, especially when she's low on cash and doesn't relish the idea of walking all the way across town.

Allie comes face to face with her father after several years, and attacks him for harming a child. Yet he willingly submits to a truth spell, which he passes, and this development frustrates Allie. She knows he's guilty; how else could his signature be on all over that boy? After several angry words, Allie storms out, never to see her father again....

My thoughts:

As much as I enjoyed the concept of the story, it was slow going for me in the beginning. Ms. Monk has quite a background here, and to develop it by showing the reader versus telling us took some time. But once it started moving for me, I as hooked.

I loved the whole idea of paying a price for magic. Like anything, you couldn't just use it at will; you had to sacrifice for it, sometimes the pain could be excruciating, dependent upon the spell. This story was really fresh, and kept me wondering what was going to happen next.

Allie is a typical urban fantasy heroine: in good shape, tall and not too curvy, her looks more striking that beautiful. She didn't put a lot of stock in material things, tended to always be low on cash. She loved coffee and tended to fall into bed with guys on a whim. But of course the kicker is that she is "special". Otherwise, why would we want to read about her? Now please don't get me wrong, because I like Allie very much. She's real. She's loyal to her friends, and doesn't like to see those more vulnerable being hurt. She's proven she'd give her last dollar to help someone in need. She's flawed but someone you'd want as your friend. Magic has left Allie without a lot of her memories, and she's also lonely, and it explains some of her behavior. Being special isn't always a wonderful thing.

Zayvion Jones, the man Allie is so strongly drawn to, though she doesn't even know whose side he's on, is a bit of a mystery. He tends to be someone she can depend on, but to what end? What are his motives? As the novel progresses, it's evident he cares more for her than he's comfortable with, and when things go really bad, he doesn't handle it very well. But I have a feeling we've not seen the last of Mr. Jones.

So far there are two more books in the series, and I have both of them. I'm so glad I bought them all at once. Though reading "Magic To the Bone" was a bit exhausting, so I've moved onto something less intense. But I will be getting back to the series soon. I just can't wait to find out what happens next.

Rating: **** out of *****

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  1. Sometimes a book can be like a just takes time to warm up and get going :) I have that experience quite often in the overall Fantasy genre and Susi got me interested in this author who I hadn't heard of either. Now that Mr.Jones sounds real good, enjoyed reading your thoughts on this book Stacy, thanks :)

  2. Hey hon!
    Yep, I think the first book is kind of slow going at the start!
    But OMG it kicks up in the next two!
    I totally agree that the magic system is great developed. I loved and hated that through the whole series!
    And I so know what you mean about taking a break with a book. Happens to me all the time.
    Can't wait what you think of the other ones!

    @Leontine Ms. Jones is just delicious!

    Have great day!

  3. Thank you Stacy!

    But of course the kicker is that she is "special".

    I've been dithering over this book and the whole 'special' thing is one of those reasons. I'm probably in a minority of one, but I'd like to read about a heroine who just 'is' for once, rather than someone upon whom rests the fate of the known (and unknown) universe...

    Saying that, I like the sound of the magic is this world, with consequences, and your review has tipped me off the fence. On the TBR list it goes :)

  4. What a gorgeous cover! I find that sometimes that first book in a series has so much to set up that sometimes it drags. I'm still intrigued and I think I'll add this to my to read pile. Nice review.

  5. For some reason a lot of UF books are slow to get into, but once you do, wow! I think I have this one on my to read list.

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