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4.0 out of 5 stars
Magic in the Blood (An Allie Beckstrom Novel)
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on 14 June 2010
Magic in the Blood is the second Allie Beckstorm book from Devon Monk. It picks up a couple of weeks after the events of book 1, Magic to the Bone, which left Allie missing several weeks worth of memories, her father dead, her body marked by a massive amount of magic and her not knowing the man she apparently fell in love with, the very mysterious Zayvion Jones. But despite being scared by the amount of memories missing, Allie isn't about to give up magic or Hounding. She's working this new case for the police, for a supposedly cursed cop, but she's suddenly started seeing ghosts as well. And they're demanding as much of her attention as the case is, without being polite about it.

I really loved the first book in this series and was really looking forward to this second installment. But I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It's not bad, by any stretch, and not even a let down exactly. It's got a good plot and doesn't ignore things from the previous book, but in many ways it felt more like a set up for the next book or two more than anything else. It is still a good read, but I wasn't as gripped by it as book one. I'd been warned that the ending was a bit of a cliff hanger, but I saw the ending coming from a chapter or two previous so it didn't have the impact I think was intended. It did leave me hanging, but not so badly that I needed to pick up the next book instantly. I did like this book, I just preferred book 1.

There are some great moments in this book and we get to see more of what Hounding work, and it's cost, is like. We get to know Allie a little better, and meet some very interesting new side characters as well, who I'm hoping we see more of in the next book. One of my favourite things about this series, is the cost of using magic. How it works and works the user. Nothing like that should come without a cost, and it has a huge cost in this series. Seeing the different ways people deal with that cost was intriguing. The build up to the end was good, and it got pretty tense, but I think there was more power in the ending of book one. Still a good read, but this isn't going to be my favourite of the series. Hoping for a little more from the next book.
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on 13 July 2017
Loved it.
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on 10 June 2009
Imagine living in a world where magic was a utility, extracted from the natural world and piped throughout your city, and usable by anyone with the right training - to light their home, cook their dinner, improve their appearance, or steal someone's knowledge, twist someone's mind, or even kill an enemy - as long as they can pay the price - a headache, a cold, a fever, or a life. This is the world of Allie Beckstrom, the feisty heroine of Devon Monk's follow up to last year's Magic to the Bone, Magic in the Blood.

Allie is a Hound, a person with the magical gift to literally scent the traces left by a person using magic, and track them to back to the user, which makes her a much in demand for hunting down rogue magic users, and also someone who suffers more than usual from the effects of her own magic use. Since the events of Magic to the Bone, she has also become a living reservoir of magic, something which is supposed to be impossible, and bears the signs of it in elaborate, tattoo-like marks upon her body. Unfortunately, she finds herself unable to remember much about how, or why, this happened, as the price exacted upon her by magic for a major use of it at the end of the last book was the loss of a large part of her recent memory - including of falling in love with a mysterious stranger, Zayvion Jones.

It is at this point that Magic in the Blood begins, with Allie being asked to undertake a new Hounding job for the police, investigating magical involvement in the disappearance of a number of young women, despite such jobs often having fatal results for the Hound. At the same time, a drug and blood-magic lord, whom she had believed to be safely serving a thirty year sentence, is back on the street and out for revenge, and her recently deceased father, a magical magnate with many secrets, begins to make ghostly appearances, and instructing her to `Seek.'

Monk's vision of magic use and its costs makes for an interesting addition to the urban fantasy genre, and Allie, headstrong, opinionated and heedless of her own well-being, makes for an attractive protagonist. The loss of her memory of the events of the last book places the reader in the unusual position of knowing more about her world and the events surrounding her than she does, and seeing how much she discovers, or recovers, is part of the attraction of the novel, as is Allie's confused exploration of her feelings for the mysterious - to her - Zayvion Jones. The writing and description is reasonably entertaining, and Monk keeps the plot moving rapidly and smoothly. She also leaves more than enough unanswered questions, about both Allie and Zayvion's relationship and larger events, to leave the reader eager for the next instalment, the forthcoming Magic in the Shadows (Allie Beckstrom) - a book I've already got on preorder.
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on 16 June 2012
*Spoiler free but may contain spoilers for first book Magic to the Bone (An Allie Beckstrom Novel)*

Another fast paced and exciting read, Magic in the Blood picks up almost immediately after the events of Magic to the Bone. Allie is still recovering from the coma, trying to cope with the large memory loss and to top it all off, she's just been mauled in the shower by her father's ghost....

Once again the world building is one of the strongest elements of this series. If magic was discovered tomorrow I could see this being the way it would have affected society over a 30 years period. It doesn't change what people do but how people do things. Monk manages to make it so that magic only ever aids in acts we would see today, the good and the bad, so it makes it incredibly easy to slip into the world she has created. Saying that, she does manage to inject some para into Allie's idea of normal, building on some of the mysteries surrounding Allie's relationship with magic.

The plot is... well, hectic would be a good way to describe it. Nearly the whole book takes place over a 36 hour period so there is very little downtime involved! Whilst I found the multiple threads a bit difficult to keep track of in the beginning of the book they came together nicely and made an exciting (if slightly rushed) climax.

For me the characters were the best thing in Magic in the Blood. Cops, special task forces, mobsters, Hounds and secret societies, make for a very dynamic mix. Allie felt quite isolated in Magic to the Bone and while there is a element of that due to her trust issues it was fun to see her interacting with some many different people. After reading so many books where I just didn't understand why the main character was being so secretive or didn't talk to anyone about what was going on, it was refreshing to see Allie do both. The fact she was also trying to stop herself from succumbing to hysteria during some of the more brutal moments and not just taking it all in her stride was refreshing and quite endearing. She is shaping up to be a great lead, brave and witty but still flawed and vulnerable at times.

The introduction of so many new characters pushes Zayvion slightly to the background but in true form he always pops up at just the right moment. There's almost a `restore to factory settings' vibe to the relationship due to Allie's memory loss. I was glad they decide to take things slower this time, the tentative and sweet moments that follow felt much more in keeping with the characters.

Magic in the Blood is a great follow-up to the series opener, ironing out some of the issues from Magic to the Bone and upping the action stakes. Set in a gritty and exciting world, with witty tight writing, believable characters and bags of supernatural subterfuge, it has all the elements that make a fantastic Urban Fantasy.
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on 10 December 2011
This was a pretty decent follow up to the first book and went some way to improving on the characterization that I felt was lacking in book one, Magic to the Bone.

Having the main character, Allie Beckstom, have her memories reset back to her back to her 25th birthday, which was the opening scene of book one, was both a blessing and a curse for us as a reader. A blessing because it gave us a chance to get to know the love interest, Zayvion Jones' character a little more, and for them to try and build a relationship on something other than just "magic sex". And, I admit, I did soften towards him a little more in this book. He can be very sweet and endearing at times and I think it's good that they have slowed things down. It's how it should have been in the first place.

But it was a curse because Allie can't remember anything that happened in book one, so the amount of recapping and the feeling of being right back at square one was slightly overwhelming.

Allie gets drafted in by the police's magic enforcement division (MERC) to Hound a job involving a possible serial killer and six missing girls. She also starts to experience weird happenings whenever she taps into her magic.

There were several new characters introduced in this one, none of whom made any great impact, still, it was nice to widen the cast a little since most of book one featured only Allie and Zayvion.

Going back to Zayvion for a second, I'm finding the whole "Man of Mystery" persona slightly annoying at the moment. I'm all for characters being mysterious if it's done well, and if they are dropping clues without actually meaning or wanting to, but with this one it feels more like he's saying "I have loads of secrets! Neener neener neener!" If he can't talk about his job or say who he works for because he's not allowed, then fine, just stop mentioning it!

I'm going to give book three a chance because...well because I have it here right next to me, but this series really needs to step it up a notch to hold my interest for much longer.
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on 18 May 2011
Allie Beckstrom's life is in turmoil. Nothing new here, but this time it's just a mess. Allie is a "Hound", that is, she is a practitioner of magic, and she uses her olfactory senses to detect and use magic. After "Magic To The Bone"'s ending where she expends an extreme amount of magic, Allie is now recuperating from a magic induced coma. It seems that for every time that somebody uses magic, that magic will demand an equal payment from the users, and that this payment takes the form of physical and psychic abuse. This time, the magic expended by Allie in "Magic To The Bone" has not only put Allie into a coma, but when she wakes she finds that most of the events of the previous month, including her affair with Zayvion Jones, has been scrubbed from her mind.

And here is where the story starts. After being released from the hospital, and while taking a bus to the police station to give her statement, an old enemy accosts her. "Magic In The Blood" is a direct sequel to 'The Sweet Smell Of Cherries' in the anthology "Crime Spells" that was edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Loren L. Coleman. In that story Allie had saved the granddaughter of influential Hound Martin Pike, and had put Lou Trager, the local drug lord, who had tortured and raped her in jail. Well, guess what, he's out, and after taking a blood sample from her, he tells her that she had better deliver to him Martin Pike by the next midnight or else she's dead meat.

Shaken by not stopped, she continues to the station where she is introduced to Detective Paul Stotts, who heads up the city's elite Magical Enforcement Response Corp (MERC) who, after she gives him her statement, wants her to do a job for him. This is to investigate a series of disappearances of young girls, they are being disappeared in broad daylight, in front of witnesses, and blood magic is involved. A sub-plot to this is that sixteen Hounds in six years have suspiciously died while in Stotts employ, and by the novel's ending there will be seventeen dead. Will that seventeenth be Allie?

If that wasn't enough, Martin Pike finds and convinces her to attend a meeting of Pike's Hounds, a loose confederation of Hounds that meet every week to pass on information about jobs, and to be of help to others. Here she meets Davy Silvers, Pike's right hand man, and Tomi, Davy's ex-girlfriend who's a cutter and is nursing one gigantic chip on her shoulder. It is after her initial meeting with his loose coterie of hounds that she informs Pike that Trager is gunning for him.

Allie's love interest in the last novel was the tall, dark and handsome practitioner of magic Zayvian Jones who is also a troubleshooter and problem solver. Because she has lost all memories involving him, so for the first half of the novel he's regulated to a minor role with only a few cameos. Zayvion becomes more important later on, and as such, his character becomes more dominate in the second half. Because Jones is regulated to cameos in the first half of the novel, the attraction between Allie and Zayvion is forced to be toned down from the more passionate previous relationship. Now, because of her loss of memories, their relationship has to be rebuilt, and while Allie's panties are on fire, Zayvian is wearing his underpants of steel and wants to rebuild the relationship slowly.

Monk takes the time to introduce and develop a number of important, and soon to be important, characters. Like Pike, a ready to retire Hound, Davy, Pike's loyal lieutenant, her younger mother-in-law Violet, the creepy next door neighbor Frank Gordon, and most importantly, we find out more about her dead father Daniel Beckstrom.

Daniel Beckstrom being the man, before his death, behind the technology that allowed people to obtain and use, in a minor way, the great wells of magic that rest beneath the ground. In "Magic To The Bone" Daniel was killed mysteriously through blood magic. Daniel is now appearing, spectrelike to Allie to deliver some fairly obtuse epithets. And along with his ghost, Allie is seeing other, and different ghosts, and these, the "watercolor" people, are dangerous as they want to viciously and hungrily feed on Allie and her magic.

Life is complicated, and Allie's is a mess, and before the novel's ending there will be death, destruction, betrayal, torture, blood, pain, and some very, very bad coffee. And like the first book in this series, this book can be read as a stand-alone, but it is also the first story in a two-novel arc. Allie's life will now take a new direction as circumstances will force Allie to abandon her lone wolf persona and take an active interest in Pike's Hounds, her father's corporation, and Stott's MERC group.

Allie character is full of dark, cynical, and self-depreciating commentary, the novel is dark and hard, a testament to Monk's sense of realism. She doesn't shy away from either the blood or the violence of the storyline, but neither is she needlessly gory or exploitive.

Monk is becoming a better and more confident novelist. Her novel this time around has a more complex storyline, and her writing is more cinematic, combining the genres of horror, urban fantasy, crime, occult comic book, and action, much more than her previous novel, all while furthering the development of her characters. Also hints of the epic storyline that the series will have a start appearing in this novel. And Monk further develops magic-as-a-metaphor for drug abuse. Dumb cover, and it illustrates nothing.

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

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

The novels:

1.) Magic to the Bone
3.) Magic in the Shadows (Allie Beckstrom)
4.) Magic on the Storm (Allie Beckstrom Novels)
5.) Magic at the Gate (Allie Beckstrom Novels)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 19 January 2012
Magic in the Blood picks up Allie's story not long after the ending of Magic to the Bone. After events at the end of the first book forced her to use a great deal of magic Allie is still recovering both physically and mentally from the after effects. She has very few memories from the past few weeks and is trying to piece together everything from the death of her father to her strange new magical abilities, not to mention her possible relationship with Zayvion. It's not long before she has more important things to worry about though, the Magical Enforcement Response Corps (MERC) need her help Hounding a case and she is being followed by gang members working for the criminal magic user Lon Trager. Trager was put behind bars thanks to Allie's testimony but has been released early due to a technicality. It's no surprise to Allie that he wants revenge but he isn't the only one and Allie isn't quite sure who is going to attack first.

Although I enjoyed the first book in the series I liked Magic in the Blood even more, we are getting to know Allie a bit better now and she's becoming quite a strong character. She isn't some kind of superhero who never gets hurt - she ends up in pain every time she uses her magic - but she is tough enough to put the pain to one side and carry on with the task at hand. You have to admire her determination to get things done. The memory loss she suffers as another side effect of using magic is an interesting idea and allows for some unusual plot devices because we know so much more than she does. I do hope she retains at least some memory of the events in this book though or it could start to get a bit tedious. It isn't surprising that she has trust issues because for most of the book she doesn't seem to get a straight answer from anyone, people always seem to give her part answers or avoid her questions altogether so the poor girl never really has a chance to find out what is really going on.

I mentioned in my review of Magic to the Bone that I was curious about Zayvion but hadn't really fallen for him and I felt that his relationship with Allie was rather rushed. I was glad to see them take a step back in this installment and I've found that Zay is starting to grow on me, there are a few really sweet moments when he is trying to woo Allie and I'm looking forward to seeing more of that in future books. There were more than few occasions when I was just about ready to strangle him though - that man is a master at avoiding giving a straight answer and I think if I was Allie I would have completely given up on him. I'm all for a man of mystery but at least give her something to go on!

I enjoyed meeting more of the Hounds and finding out about the kind of jobs they do and how they deal with the effects of the magic that they use. It will be interesting to see how things progress with the Pack as the series continues and I think there is a lot of potential for interesting story lines involving MERC too. The plot is a little slow moving in the first half but I'm interested enough in the world Devon Monk has created that it didn't really bother me and the pace really picks up towards the end of the book. I'm looking forward to seeing Allie deal with her new magical abilities, I want to see more of Zay (although he'd better start giving away a bit more information about himself!) and I'm curious to find out more about the mysterious group who have been following Allie. This series has a lot of potential and is one I would recommend to urban fantasy fans.
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on 4 August 2012
Ms Monk has drawn me into the magical world of Allie Beckstrom. Allie is having a bad day, a really bad day, and it just keeps getting worse. Following directly on from Magic in the Bone, Allie's not in the best of shape at the start of this book, but she's one resilient girl and no slouch in the kickass stakes either.

This book is darker and bloodier than the previous one. It deals with ghosts, blood magic and death magic and Allie has a rough ride over the couple of days this book covers. I rattled through this and I'm now on book 3 of this series because I really want to know more about this world, the mysterious Zayvion Jones and what Allie will do next.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 February 2015
In book 2 of this dark urban fantasy series, Allie has paid the price for the magic she wielded in book 1 "Magic to the Bone". She has no memory of the man she fell in love with; the mysterious Zayvion Jones. Allie has recovered somewhat from the events in book 1, but magic has left an obvious mark on her. She's wielding magic that shouldn't be possible, seeing other people wield magic that shouldn't be possible, and at risk of becoming a snack for the hungry dead people she sees when she now uses her magic.

Zayvion proves to be even more mysterious; whilst his courtship of Allie takes a step back into the getting to know you stage that they seemed to skip in book 1. Allie may have some snippets of memories around him, but she doesn't know him, so I'm glad the author took this approach to their relationship.

Allie not only faces dark magic in this book, she also discovers she is under the careful scrutiny of a powerful but secret magic organisation. She's establishing unexpected relationships with other Hounds and her step-mother, and of course Zayvion, plus she has to rely on her acute Hound senses and magic when she faces some unexpected enemies. There are some gruesome parts as this author doesn't take a stand back when someone is killed and a steady rise in tension as the dramatic finale unfolds. The ending is just plain creepy, but I look forward to finding out how Allie deals with her latest situation.
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on 12 August 2010
I bought books 1 and 2 of this series, and only read the second because I owned it and had nothing else to read. For those looking for an urban fantasy series with a bit of romance, there are MUCH better offerings out there.

The lead character is whiny and irritating with Daddy issues. She suffers from memory loss which lead to a lot of tedious repetition. The hero is a pain - the strong silent type is all very well and good, but not when he tends towards fake mystery and lies.

Really didn't enjoy this, and wouldn't recommend it.
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