*******STOP! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS******* *******NOT SO MUCH OF THIS NOVEL, BUT OF THE PREVIOUS ONES******* *******ALSO, IF YOU HAVE NOT READ ANY OF THE PREVIOUS NOVELS IN THIS SERIES, PUT THIS NOVEL DOWN, AND WALK AWAY. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS HERE, AND ALMOST NOTHING IS EXPLAINED!*******
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.