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on 22 February 2011
Allie Beckstrom has walked in to Death to save her lover Zayvion Jones, who currently lies in a coma. Alongside her is her dead father, who may or may not still have a part of himself inside her head. Death is a dangerous place for Allie to be. Her chances of making it out alive, with Zayvion's soul, and in one piece, is almost zero. But Allie is a fighter, and stubborn as well, so if it can be done, she'll do it. With the gate having been opened though, there is no guarantee things won't be just as bad, or worse, back on the other side.

Magic at the Gate picks up exactly where Magic on the Storm left off, thankfully. It was a heck of a cliff hanger and left so much to be explored and explained. I liked that it just slipped straight back in, a quick reminder of what had just happened, then on with the story without missing a beat. Devon's depiction of death is just as clever and thought out as the living world. It's got it's own rules and magic twists. Not to mention some scary critters that just help give it that darker, creepier edge that it should have.

This is an excellent continuation of the series. It's got all the same greatness about it as the previous ones: great twists, engaging plot, fantastic characters who continue to grow and change, and great extension to the already impressive world building. Allie may have had magic at her fingertips (literally) her whole life, but she's still got a lot to learn. Just when you think there can't be any more big secrets to come from the Authority, there are. And not only are they big, they're Huge, completely eclipsing those that have come before. Magic at the Gate is no exception. There are some major issues finally revealed, giving just a glimpse of what is really going on for the first time. Not that, that makes anything more predictable or straight forward. In fact it makes it almost less so I think. But it is nice to have a few answers at last.

One of my favourite aspects of this series is the Hounds, and how Allie is now trying to take care of them as well. I was glad to see a bit more of them in the second half of the book, and I'm really hoping they'll get to play a bigger role still in the next book (Magic on the Hunt due out April 2011). I particularly love Davy. There is just something about him I really enjoy. His dogged determination to take care of Allie despite all her insistence that she doesn't need a keeper maybe.

My favourite character of the series though is Shame. Well, him and Terric. They're just so fantastic together. The way they play off each other, their issues with each other. I want to hug them both and smack them both and make them see sense. I love them both, but they're both so damaged as well. Their relationship so complicated. And they both have fantastic personalities. I would adore to see them have their own book, or even novella. Every time Shame or Terric was around I was just glued to them. Don't get me wrong, I love the rest of the book, Allie, Zay and everyone else as well, but Shame and Terric tend to steal the show a bit for me. Which I'm very happy for them to do. They've got some huge new obstacles facing them in this book and I really enjoyed watching them deal with them and how they both changed a bit as a result. For me, there wasn't nearly enough of them. I always want more of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It's got so many twists it was hard to put down because I needed to know what happened next. The ending was great, with no killer cliff hanger (which I have to say I'm kind of glad of, the previous one was bad enough!) but still with a lot left open. I think the book is a great bridge from the previous one, to the next. It's got that kind of feel to it. Plenty happens here, lots of important things and like I said, a few much needed answers. But towards the end it's also got the feel of a set up for the next big conflict/issue. But I still think this could be my favourite of the series so far. And that what comes next will be even better, very excited for Magic on the Hunt!!
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on 18 May 2011

Well, okay, now that we've got that out of the way. "Magic At The Gate" starts IMMEDIATELY where the novel "Magic On The Storm" ends. Allie Beckstom is a Hound, she initially practiced her magic by using her olfactory senses, although though her character has substantially evolved since her first novel. In the middle of the big magical firefight that was in progress in the last novel, a gateway to the realm of death is opened, and Allie's lover and soul compliment Zayvion Jones' soul is wrenched out of "our" plane of existence and dragged into that one leaving his corporeal body behind.

Without hesitation and thought to her well being, Allie and her pet gargoyle Stone, jump through the gate after him. There she finds that the only way to survive is keep in physical contact with Stone, while the ghost of her father separates from her mind and takes on a substantial presence of his own. However, to Allie's horror, there are now two of her father's here, a younger Daniel, who had to die early in his career as step toward becoming the master magician that eventually he would become, and the older, later murdered Daniel, and whose death got Allie involved in the Authority's business in the first place.

Eventually, she comes into contact with Mikhail and finds Zayvion's imprisoned soul, and to free him, she finds out just what a snake her father really was. While alive, he had made a deal with Mikhail to deliver Allie to him, and to free Zayvion she has to sacrifice that little bit of magic in herself that makes her special and unique.

Mikhail releases Zayvion's soul, but has to use Stone as a vessel to store it and transport it back to the land of the living. Mikhael then sends Allie back to the world of the living with Daniel reintegrated into her mind, and it is up to her to be able to transfer Zayvion's soul from Stone to Zayvion's comatose body.

While Allie recuperates, she finds out that she has been gone for a week, and that after the firefight, Chase (Zayvion's ex-lover) and Greyson (a necromorph, and Chase's soul compliment) have been imprisoned, Jingo Jingo, Mike Barham, and Dane Lannister have disappeared, Sedra has been kidnapped by Jingo Jingo, and that Liddy (one of Allie's teachers) is dead. She is also informed that Maeve Flynn, Allie's primary teacher (master of Blood magic, and whose husband was killed by Daniel) has been crippled, and that Shamus "Shame" Flynn, Zayvion's best friend, Maeve's child, and master of Death magic was almost killed by the traitor Jingo Jingo who was Shamus' primary teacher. To her surprise she also finds out that Shamus and Terric have become psychically bound together.

Then things start going from bad to worse as Allie and the Authority find out that somebody is implanting the magical discs that Daniel had invented, before his murder, into the watercolor people, or the veiled dead. These non-corporeal people, who were once magi who were part of the Authority are now corporeal, and damn near invincible. This trouble starts when dead (executed?) Authority member Truance Stimple almost kills Allie and Terric, and what's worse, Frank Gordon is back from the dead, and he's hungry.

As I said in the beginning of this review, this is not a stand-alone novel. You simply CANNOT read this novel without having read the previous novels. Monk likes to write the novels in this series in two novel serial arcs, and this novel, not only cannot be read without having read the previous NOVELS in this series, it cannot be read without having read the previous NOVEL in this series. While Allie has shown considerable growth as a character since her first novel, she is still a little Betty Badass with (for good reason) extreme daddy issues. We learn more of how the Authority works, more of Daniel's weaselly ways, and just who might be behind all of the actions against the Authority. The series also takes a quantum leap, as even though they take a backseat through most this novel, Allie's Hound pack are finally brought into the battle. They get into the Authority's confidences through Davy, who is contacted by the dead Martin Pike, Allie's Hound friend, and founder of the pack, who was murdered several novels ago. There are even hints that Det. Stott and his MERC team are soon going to be called on to be brought into the Authority's confidence.

There's a battle scene at the end of the novel that just rocks, as Monk is not one of those literary types who are afraid of getting her hands dirty when it comes to the action, as many writers seem to want to just obliquely avoid this stuff as much as possible. You go girl.

By this time Monk has given us a huge cast of colorful characters and returning this time around are Authority figures Allie, Zayvion, Shamus, Maeve, Victor, Terric (whose problems with Shamus are finally (?) working themselves out at the risk of "simultaneous murder charges"), Violet Beckstom (Allie's younger Mom-in-law [don't ask]), her bodyguard Kevin Cooper, and Walter Hayden (Maeve's possible lover). Hounds Davy Silvers (who has been altered by Death & Blood magic), Martin Pike (who is dead, but doesn't let that stop him), Jamar, Jack, Sid, and others of the pack. Also making return visits are evildoers Jingo Jingo, Mikhail, Daniel Beckstrom, Frank Gordon, gooddoer Detective Paul Stotts, and of course, Stone. I'd like to see Tomi (named after Junji Ito's character?) and the sociopath Bonnie Sherman make return appearances in the future.

All series novels should rise and fall as stand-alones, but this one doesn't. For newbies, this is probably a two star book, for us long time readers, this is a five. Monk can be a very manipulative author, and that's fine, that's what I read fiction for. Maybe sometime when Spielberg gets around to making these things into movies, Monk will then revise them, and turn these two story arcs into the long novels that they really are.

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
2.) Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom Novels) a sequel to 'The Sweet Smell Of Cherries'.
3.) Magic in the Shadows (Allie Beckstrom)
4.) Magic on the Storm (Allie Beckstrom Novels)
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on 17 December 2011
A rather lacklustre entry to the series. I had high hopes that the new setting, the trip into Death, would revive my waning interest in this series. Nothing like a change of scenery to perk you up, right?


Well, in Monk's hands it's wrong, anyway. The descriptions of the World of the Dead were so unimaginative it was almost laughable. Crumbling buildings was about the extent of it. Wow. So very vivid, it's like I can taste it.....only not.

The great rescue attempt of her lover, Zayvion was completed fairly early on so I was thinking we'd at least wrap that up and move on to a new mystery plot, but then he was in a coma for much of the book and without him, Allie really doesn't know her arse from her elbow, so she was pretty much just kicking around with Shame for the rest of the book.

In terms of plot- what little there was of it- there are previously dead folks walking around looking suspiciously more corporeal than they should. So it looks like the missing magic discs from the end of the last book have wandered into enemy hands. From here the plot was driven slowly and clumpily to the big end scene that wasn't. It had all the impact of a wet party popper.

This is where I get off the Allie Beckstom bus. I tried. Made it though five books and for once this one didn't end on a cliffhanger (big mistake there hey, Monk?) So I'm outie. See ya. Bye, bye. Adios. Don't call me, I'll call you.
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on 4 August 2012
*** There are spoilers here for the earlier instalments of this series. ***

Things are getting darker for Allie and her friends. Right from the start, Allie is faced with the most difficult of tasks - tracking down the soul of her lover and attempting to free him from Death.

There are dark, desperate, vengeful creatures out there in the darkness, determined to break the laws of magic and life to get back what they have lost. Allie, Shame and the remnants of the Authority are all that stands between them and the people of Portland.

I'm still struggling to like Allie as much as I want to. She's such a petulant child at times that I really want to shake some sense into her every other page. She really needs to learn that sometimes other people really do know better than her. She's also very self-centred. Take for instance the time when she decides to bitch and moan about being locked in a car instead of helping an injured friend in the aftermath of a fierce magical battle. Allie, love, it's not all about you all the time.

Shame, on the other hand, is a magnificent character. He is stroppy, stubborn and angry at times, but he is also fiercely loyal, astoundingly selfless and awesomely powerful. So far, he is the stand out character in this series for me. I also find myself wanting to know more and more about his relationship (or lack of) with Terric. Their relationship is far more interesting to me than that of Allie and Zayvion.

No cliffhanger for this book, unlike the last one. But onto book 6 it is.
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on 22 January 2011
I bought this on my kindle because of an amazon recommendation. About 40 pages in I am struggling to keep any attention. I don't care about the characters, I don't get the situation, and I am not drawn along by the story. Will probably delete off my Kindle. That's a pretty drastic statement from me. Shame because I need new authors to read and this looked promising.
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on 10 December 2012
Overall the book is very good and continuing the adventures of Allie Beckstrom. However the description of how and where she gets her magic from are getting a bit repetitive.
I will see the series through to the end but not as quick as reading those so far
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on 3 November 2015
Can't wait for the next episode many thanks. Love the story's of each character and how they complement each other and how the combine each book.
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on 7 June 2013
Allie is back again and i could not wait to find out what happened in her story. I am wizszing through the entire series. Highly recommend!
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on 12 February 2013
Very enjoyable read, liked enough to want to read the whole series and hope that Allie Bekstrom returns for further adventures in the future
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on 18 March 2011
The saga of Allison Beckstrom is an intriguing one. Author Devon Monk must be going somewhere with the overarching storyline in these books; it's not a "continuing adventures of Ally Beckstrom" kind of series. The story is moving toward some sort of conclusion, but at what pace? Magic at the Gate, the latest novel in the saga and also the best of the ones I've read (I missed the first two), perfectly blends the storytelling, character and atmosphere that I'm sure Monk has been going for all along.

Allie's lover and fellow magic-user, Zayvion Jones, lies soulless after a battle with a rival faction of wizards that has sundered the Authority (a group of wizards who govern how magic is used). Allie has gone through the gate that Zayvion's soul was banished to, a realm of death and darkness. In order to save Zayvion's life and soul, she may have to give up something else of great importance to her. When she gets back, she discovers that evil hasn't taken a break. Dead souls walk the earth again, hungry for magical energy.

Once again, there are two parts to the novel: the beginning and the rest of it. The beginning of the previous books has been kind of slow: character build-up, relationship building, that sort of thing. This time, Monk starts with a bang. Allie is already in Death's realm, looking for Zayvion's soul and trying to figure out how to rescue it. She has to depend a bit more on her father than she would like, since this is his world. Her moral dilemma when finally offered a chance to succeed is almost heartbreaking.

Things get even better when Allie returns from that realm. The action heats up, but so does the characterization. The interaction between Allie and Shame is wonderful, a kind of brother-sister camaraderie with a hint of flirting. Shame's got his own issues: he's magically bonded to another wizard in the Authority, and he's not happy about it. The relationships among various characters veritably sing off the page.

Monk does a great job switching between action and characterization as well as mingling the two. The final breathtaking battle moves the story forward in ways that whet the appetitte to see how Monk will adjust. The action is hot, the spells fly, and Allie learns a lot about herself in the process. Others do, too, since they've mainly been trying to keep her in the background, unsure if she can handle herself. Yes, she's too impulsive at times (actually jumping through a gate into the death realm without really thinking), but she's good at what she does. I foresee some major characterization shifts in future books as other characters come to terms with that.

Monk's prose here is the strongest I've seen so far. She really gets the reader into the action, or caring about the characters if it's a slow scene. She mixes up the plot, hinting at a possible traitor in the mix or perhaps a secret that one of the characters is holding back. She keeps the hook in the reader, wiggling on the line and unable to get away. Any negatives regarding Magic at the Gate are pretty negligible and don't detract at all from how fun it is.

If you're not already reading about Allie Beckstrom, you should start. This is another great entry in the series.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book © Dave Roy, 2011
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