Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk

  • Magic to the Bone
  • Magic in the Blood
  • Magic in the Shadows
  • Magic on the Storm

Reviewed by Deborah Blake

Allison Beckstrom knows better than most that using magic comes with a cost. She’s a Hound—someone who traces illegal spells back to their casters—and she’s paid the price in lost memories and two-day migraines. But she isn’t about to give up the career she loves, or the chance to stay independent from her influential (and slightly shady) businessman father.

Over the course of these four books, Allie gets caught up in an illegal magical Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, corporate espionage, deadly blood magic, energy-eating ghosts, the city police force’s magical enforcement division, the Authority (a secret organization of magic users that wants her to join—or else), and the mysterious Zayvion Jones. Who may or may not be on her side, but is darned attractive either way.

MAGIC TO THE BONE is a the first book in the series, and introduces the reader to Allie and the Portland she lives in, where magic is real and can be harnessed by those with talent or the money to buy it. Allie has spent her adult life keeping her distance from her prominent businessman father and all that he stands for, even if that means living hand-to-mouth and taking on jobs she doesn’t much like. But when her father is implicated in a horrible crime, Allie must call on all her Hounding skills to find out the truth—even if she isn’t sure she’s going to like the answers she gets.

In MAGIC IN THE BLOOD, Allie is dealing with the gaping hole in her memories, an after-effect from a major magical working that almost killed her. She’s pretty sure she’s missing some important information, especially about the man she supposedly fell in love with, Zayvion Jones. But that mystery has to be put on the back burner when the city’s magical enforcement division pulls her into a missing-persons case that is much more complicated than it seems.

MAGIC IN THE SHADOWS finds Allie coping with even more lost memories and a loss of another kind. But the loss isn’t as final as she’d hoped, and having another person inside her mind drives her to seek the help of the Authority and Zayvion Jones. Unfortunately, failure to learn to control her abilities isn’t an option, since the alternative would strip her of everything she holds dear.

MAGIC ON THE STORM ramps up the action, the risks, and the price of using magic even more, putting Allie on the front lines of a battle where no one and nothing is what it seems, and losing the war could mean the end of the city of Portland—and everyone in it.

Allie lives in an alternative future Portland, and the city is almost as vital a character as her father, her love interest, and her fellow Hounds. The protagonist herself is realistically delineated and easy to like, despite her flaws. And the world-building in this series is second to none.

I was fortunate enough to discover these books when the third one was about to be released. I devoured the first two back to back, ordered the third as soon as it came out, and then waited with baited breath for the fourth. I give them my highest recommendation.

If you like urban fantasy that is gritty but not so dark you want to hide under the covers after reading it, and don’t mind getting so caught up in the characters’ lives that you think you know them personally, this series should immediately go to the top of your “to be read list.”

About the Reviewer

Deborah Blake is an award-winning author with five books on modern Witchcraft. Two of these are coming out this year: EVERYDAY WITCH A TO Z SPELLBOOK (Llewellyn, July) and WITCHCRAFT ON A SHOESTRING (Llewellyn, September). She also writes Urban Fantasy and is represented by Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency. Deborah gives a number of highly successful online writing workshops and has a loop, THE CREATIVITY CAULDRON, for paranormal authors. Her website is www.deborahblakehps.com.