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Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars "In the short time I've known you, you have been chased, shot, robbed, stabbed, drugged, and attacked with magic.", 18 May 2011
This review is from: Magic in the Shadows (Allie Beckstrom Novels) (Mass Market Paperback)
*******THERE WILL BE SPOILERS******** Not so much of this novel, but definitely of the last one.

And you better have read the previous novel before you read this one as the storyline is a direct continuation of the climax of "Magic In The Blood", the second novel in the Allie Beckstrom series. And the climax of the previous novel didn't work, because while Frank Gordon is dead, and while her father body has been recovered and is to be buried, he's still not gone.

Allie is a Hound, she is able to detect and track magic through her olfactory senses, and she is unique in her world in that she can also store magic in her bones, her use of magic has also scarred her with bizarre tattoos that allow her to tap this store of magic. And while her life has become a mess, lately it has become more chaotic than usual, as in the last couple of books, her father has been murdered, she has inherited his business empire, she's become a target for his enemies, and her wild talents have become even more wilder. And she has fallen in love and lust with the hunky Zayvion Jones, and has had that memory wiped from her mind. This is because the use of magic extracts a physical and mental toll from all those that use it, the more extreme the use, the more extreme the abuse. When she saved her lover from death in "Magic In The Bone" she is put into a coma, and in "Magic In The Blood" she is rebuilding her life, especially her affair with Zayvion Jones.

She has also taken over the operations of Pike's Hounds now that fellow Hound Pike has been murdered. Allie's life becomes even more complicated when a magically created demon called a necromorph has its sights on killing what is left of Daniel Beckstrom, which inhabiting Allie's mind, and if it has to kill Allie to do that, well. . .

And to top it all off she has come to the attention of The Authority, a group of extremely skilled magic users whose job it is to keep the balance of magic in the world on an even keel. Things go from complicated to bad, to worse when Davy Silvers, her second in command over at Pike's Hounds, comes to her with a problem. His ex, Tomi Nowlan has fallen in with the wrong crowd and is in deep trouble, and this trouble effects not only The Authority but Allie, and this trouble is going to get messy.

That said, Allie is given a choice to either become one of the Authority or to be "Closed" by one of the Authority's foot soldiers, one of whom is Zeyvion, another is Chase who is an extremely powerful magic user, and Zeyvion's ex-lover who has taken an extremely powerful hatred towards Allie.

Giving in to pressure, and prudence, Allie decides to become less a wild talent and to try to get her life in order through the Authority. The only trouble is that her future is entrusted to Maeve Flynn, a feisty Irish redhead whose husband was murdered by Allie's Dad, and whose son Shamus practices death magic under the powerful Jingo Jingo, who is somehow tied into Tomi's problems, which involve the destruction of The Authority.

As Allie slowly starts getting her life into order with this book, she realizes she's going to have to stop being a lone wolf. She's not only going to have to deal with the previously mentioned incidents, but she's also learning she's about to be a step-sister. She's also obtained a (don't ask) loyal pet gargoyle, and reignites her love affair with Zeyvion, which includes a hot shower scene that must have been fun for Ms. Monk to research.

Then as if to derail everything, Chase talks The Authority into giving Allie a life or death test, which she must pass or she will be closed. And, oh yes, there's the almost the end of the world (although if the world really ended, there wouldn't be a fourth volume in this series). And there's much more, as Monk keeps the story moving, and keeps it full of interesting characters and action, as she constantly reinvents and refines her Allieverse.

With this novel Monk draws less from the pulp crime novel, as she did in the last two, and more from sources like comic book serials, the internecine warfare of the Nakita series, and mixes it with modern urban fantasy, adventure, science fiction (the world building elements), erotica, action, and the occult superhero genres. Monk gives us two (TWO!) exciting climaxing endings, the first seemingly influenced by manga, the second in which the world almost ends seemingly influenced by American superhero comics, and comes close to being epic. Monk doesn't miss an opportunity to make this an entertaining read, and while fans of "serious fantasy fiction" will look upon this with disdain, I don't care, I loved it.

While Monk is becoming a better writer with each novel, she also has several continuing themes that she continues to include in her novels. The first is at least one great cinematic scene, another is that with progress comes pain, nothing comes for free; another is the breaking of one vulnerable person in each story, whether it be the already broken Cody The Hand in "Magic In The Bone", Pike's granddaughter in 'The Sweet Smell Of Cherries' in the anthology "Crime Spells", or Tomi in this novel. And she continues to equate the use of magic with the addiction to drugs. These are gritty hard-boiled urban fantasy fictions, but they are not without their optimism, and with each one we see a growth in the perpetually cynically snarky Allie, as she acts less and less like a petulant lone wolf child with daddy issues, and becomes more and more of a responsible adult. She becomes more willing to not ONLY help, but to be able to TAKE help from others. Still, some things hopefully will never change, and that is Allie's cynical snarkyness, and her inner independence. Which is part of her charm, because as she describes herself in one scene "I was nothing if not one stubborn bitch" (p 308).

For this site I have reviewed the previous Allie Beckstom appearances:

'The Sweet Smell Of Cherries' a short story in the anthology Crime Spells.

The novels:

1.) Magic to the Bone
2.) Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom Novels) (Which is a sequel to 'The Sweet Smell Of Cherries'.)
4.) Magic on the Storm (Allie Beckstrom Novels)
5.) Magic at the Gate (Allie Beckstrom Novels)
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Location: Michigan, USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 19,565