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Is the Allie Beckstrom series starting to move?
on 24 June 2012
Things really go from bad to worse in Allie Beckstrom's life, especially with Devon Monk telling the tale. The sixth novel in Allie's story, Magic on the Hunt, continues Allie's uneasy relationship with the Authority, the organization that regulates the use of magic in the world. It is not quite as strong as the previous Magic at the Gate, but that's due more to the strength of that book than to the weakness of this one, which is another outstanding addition to the series.
In the aftermath of the battle that may have ripped the Authority apart, Allie and her lover, Zayvion Jones, are looking for a little rest. Zayvion is still recovering from his time in Death's realm, saved only by Allie's jumping through the gate to save him and giving up a part of her natural magic. Unfortunately, rest is not what they're going to get. The leader of the Portland chapter of the Authority is being held hostage, and the search for her leads Allie, Zayvion, and their friends to a prison where only the worst and most powerful wizards are held. There, they find one of the prisoners possessed by a powerful undead wizard who wants to unleash all manner of chaos on the world. In trying to prevent that, Allie and the rest discover some unpleasant truths about the state of magic use and those who control it. The Authority may be coming apart at the seams.
I'm beginning to wonder if Monk will only stop this series when she runs out of "Magic [preposition] [noun]" titlesl. If Monk is making it up on the fly, she's doing a very good job of it. Each of these books moves the series forward beyond the specifics of each story. In Magic on the Hunt, we learn some uncomfortable things about the Authority in addition to a rollicking adventure where our heroes have to lay everything on the line to stop the unbearable evil.
Monk builds the relationships in this series with an intoxicating mix of humor and emotion, but that never gets in the way of the events in the story. These characters emerge through the action and the things they do to fight the bad guys. Relationships grow and change without a single sour note. Monk even humanizes Allie's father, whose ghostly essence uncomfortably resides in Allie's mind. Every character in this series is nuanced; while there is no doubt that the main heroes are the good guys, there's always a hint that the other characters, while still good, may have their own agendas.
The only minor issue I have with this book is that the conflict between Allie and her best friend over Allie trying too hard to keep her and the boy she's taking care of safe is resolved too quickly. One might say that true friends don't stay mad at each other that long unless the problem is serious, but the contretemps isn't that interesting. In Monk's defense, this could very well be setting something up for future novels, but it's still a black mark (okay, slightly gray) on this one.
Overall, Magic on the Hunt is an excellent novel with great prose, characters, and action. Monk has been doing a better job of informing new readers of events in previous books--one of my complaints about the first novel I read--without slowing things down for the readers who have been with Monk since the beginning.
New reader or old, I definitely recommend you pick up this series. If you can, start at the beginning. But if you can't, you can still get in on the action. It's well worth it.
Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book © Dave Roy, 2012