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Magic to the Bone (An Allie Beckstrom Novel) Paperback – October 13, 2011
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"Using magic, meant it used you back. Forget the fairytale hocus pocus, sparkles and pixie dust crap. Magic, like booze, sex, and drugs, gave as good as it got"
Everything has a cost. And every act of magic exacts a price from its user, maybe a two-day migraine, or losing the memory of your first kiss. But some people want to use magic without paying and they Offload the cost onto innocents. When that happens, it falls to a Hound to identify the spell's caster - and Allie Beckstrom is the best there is.
Daughter of a prominent Portland businessman, Allie would rather moonlight as a Hound than accept the family fortune - and the strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magic Offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown into the high stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic . . .
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- Publisher : Penguin (October 13, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0241956617
- ISBN-13 : 978-0241956618
- Item Weight : 8.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.08 x 0.91 x 7.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,651,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Gah. Just my stupid issue with this story so far, But maybe that's just me.lol But, yes ide recommend this book.
I am, however, not a huge fan of Allie. It's hard to pin down why but I think it's because she freezes up too much and makes a lot of bad decisions for no reason other than she wants to. She lacks drive in a lot of ways, and seems to stumble through life in a state if constant shock. I would have preferred her to have more agency.
Also, the romance moved way too fast. I honestly almost gave up on the series because it felt like another poor, thoughtless decision on Allie's part. I wasn't impressed with her frequent yoyo-ing because she couldn't take a few seconds to evaluate if she was making a good decision. She felt like an impulsive child rather than an adult in those moments.
The story does suffer from repitition which wasn't needed, and spent a little too much time in Allie's head. I am going to go ahead and give book 2 a try and hope I enjoy it more.
There are a lot of challenges for the MC Allies, and in this one she has to prove the evidence was altered to implicate her in multiple crimes. I especially liked the Oregon locales in the story. The only hindrance to buying more of the series is these were originally print books, and the big print houses sell ebooks for twice the price of current ebooks. I have 8 in paperback, but it would cost almost $100 to get most of the series, and I'm on a budget.
HIGH LEVEL: This was hard to warm up to- urban fantasy that has a strong romance theme to it. I found that I had a hard time staying engaged in this book- I actually started it three times in the last 8 months before finally just reading it. So- not the most gripping story, then. But it does have some interesting ideas and the magic is thick and heady and permeates the very atmosphere of the book. I'm giving it three stars instead of two because of the creative world and approach to magic.
PLOT: Confusing and convoluted, but as it starts to come together it pulled me in. As I said, the pacing was slow and somewhat disjointed. Our girl kept passing out and since it was told from her perspective, this seriously limited our view of what the heck was going on. Also, the perspective shifted from the main character, Allie, to a supporting character- but not the romantic interest. Instead it shifted to a boy who was psychologically damaged and while this must have been fun to write and offered an interesting perspective briefly, it was odd in the scheme of things and frustrating to have such limited insight.
ATMOSPHERE & MYTHOS: Bleak, cold, distanced. Since the main character was sick or tired the entire time, this was the general feeling for me as a reader. I have to say that I really enjoyed the magic and the overall concepts of the world Ms. Monk created. It was imaginative and graceful- brilliant really. Enough that I might just read another one when I'm in the mood. The only complaint I have with the magical rules is around the idea that Allie loses memory as part of the price of using magic. As cool as that is as a plot device, it is ENORMOUSLY frustrating to read a first person narrative from a character who forgets things. It made the ending anti-climactic at best.
CHARACTERS: Vague. I didn't get much of a sense of anyone. Allie seems weaker than she is supposed to be. I have no idea how the heck she was surviving on her own- though maybe it wasn't so farfetched since she was essentially starving unless someone took pity on her and fed her. Zayvion was a man of mystery, which was a little sexy but made it hard to warm up to him. Almost everyone else was pretty much wraith-like in their presentation, except for one or two but you began to realize that Allie didn't know anything about them halfway through the book.
BOTTOM LINE: It was intriguing, but not necessarily a great read. Like I said, I liked the magic enough to try another one to see if it improves, but if not, I don't have the patience for this series.
1. Ilona Andrew's gritty, post-apocalyptic magic vs technology world: Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)
2. Jocelyn Drake's vampire/were/demon centric series full of grit: Nightwalker (Dark Days, Book 1)
3. Jennifer Estep's stone-magic wielding, hard, cold, vicious assassin Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1)
4. Jeaniene Frost's vamp mystery packed with action Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 1)
5. Faith Hunter's more ethereal, less tangible, but still riveting series Bloodring (Rogue Mage, Book 1)
6. Marjorie Liu's cold and murky, though somewhat abstract series of inherited heroism The Iron Hunt (Hunter Kiss, Book 1)
7. Seanan McGuire's fae-private eye series Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, Book 1)
8. Lilith Saintcrow's two series, dark & gritty Night Shift (Jill Kismet, Hunter, Book 1) and Working for the Devil (Dante Valentine, Book 1)
9. Nalini Singh's creative use of angels and vampires in Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter)
As I read Devon Monk's Magic to the Bone, I felt the emotions of Allie, I smelled the smells of the area, the vivid colors, and could almost taste the soup. If you want an author who can transport you to another world and be able to feel the rain as it beats down, I would recommend a Devon Monk book (any of them)
Top reviews from other countries
This book is built on a great premise - magic in the modern world is almost like electricity - used by all - but it comes at a price. It's definitely what I'd class as 'urban fantasy' and it's not like anything I've ever read before (I tend either towards the 'true' fantasy or crime/thriller types of books). The world is well thought out and fascinating in its darkness and it certainly draws the reader in.
I did find it hard to warm to the characters - especially Allie. For some reason I felt as though I was being kept at arm's length from really getting to know the people being written about. That may be part of what the author was trying to get across (i.e. the characters are very self-preservationist types) but Allie is written from the first person perspective and therefore you would expect to at least be able to 'get' her. It took me at least two, if not three books in the series to really start to understand what she was about and to warm to her. She is a flawed heroine, but that by itself shouldn't prevent the reader from getting close to the protagonist - in fact, if anything the opposite should be the case.
Still, I'd say it is worth persevering. This is a nine-book series in all and the story unfolds over the entire nine books. This book does have a storyline in its own right, but a lot of questions are left unanswered and you really do need to invest in the full series to get the best out of this fantasy setting and the characters therein. Having done so myself I would definitely recommend getting all of the Allie Beckstrom books and getting stuck in - the overall story is great, each book is well-written and the characters do come to life over time.
I like the premised that magic use isn't free - you use magic and you could end up with a migraine, sore throat, stomach aches of memory loss. And with magic being freely available for anyone to use the world Devon sets up has possibilities. However, I didn't quite take to the main character Allie. She spends a lot of this book reacting to things and not necessarily sensible. I didn't feel she drove the action much - indeed after the confrontation with her father near the start of the book she doesn't really initiate any further actions, just spends her time being chased and running away. Having said that the ride was enjoyable - I liked the love interest and how he remains as much of a mystery at the end as he did at the beginning. In fact he's even more mysterious and intriguing. The best friend, Nola was also good and I would have liked more on her. Overall, the book was a good introduction to the world and I think I will be looking out for the sequel `Magic in the Blood'...but I probably won't rush out for it.
In a world where anyone can use magic but it always has a price the more unscrupulous people out there try to find a way to force that price onto unsuspecting victims. When the price for even the smallest magic use can be a migraine that lasts for days, serious bruising or even memory loss it's no surprise that people who are messing with nasty spells don't want to take their own backlash. Although there are legal ways to disperse the effects using proxies people often want to take the free, more illegal, option. Allie Beckstrom is the daughter of one of the most famous and powerful magic users but rather than be forced into joining the family business she would rather go it alone. Working as a Hound it is her job to investigate the illegal dispersal of magical effects and track down the source of magic so that the user can be punished. When she is asked to investigate the illegal use of a spell against a young child she tracks the source straight back to the father she hasn't seen for seven years. But things aren't always what they first appear and the more she investigates the deeper the hole she digs for herself.
Magic to the Bone is an interesting start to a new urban fantasy series, this is a series I've heard a lot about from US bloggers but it is fairly new to the UK with only the first two titles in the series currently available from a UK publisher (hopefully the rest of the series will be following soon). I really like the world that Devon Monk has created, the idea that using magic has a price was really interesting and I loved the fact that the magic can be tapped into thanks to underground magical cabling. This was made even better by the fact that the poorest parts of town didn't have the required cabling so become kind of like magical dead zones.
I liked Allie and it was interesting that her use of magic nearly always caused physical pain as well as memory loss, she had to carry around a notebook with her to write down important events in case she couldn't remember them after her next attempt at using magic. I have to say that apart from the curiosity of her memory loss she doesn't really stand out as a kick ass urban fantasy heroine yet but hopefully that means she has plenty of room to grow as the series continues. I'm looking forward to seeing how her character shapes up in the next few books.
While I'm very curious about love interest Zayvion I haven't fallen for him yet. I felt the relationship with him and Allie kind of came out of nowhere and was a bit too rushed. I would have really liked it if the sexual tension from the beginning of the story could have continued a bit longer as it would have made things more believable. Zayvion is still quite a mystery, in fact I think he's more of a mystery at the end of the book than he was at the beginning! I am looking forward to finding out more about him but I'm still not sure if he is 100% trustworthy. I did really like Allie's friend Nola though and I really hope we see more of both her and Cody as the series continues.
I think Magic to the Bone was a solid start to a series that has a lot of potential if the characters really start to develop in the next installment. I already have a copy of Magic in the Blood and am looking forward to getting stuck into it.
I can see it becoming a favourite if the following happens:
The plot isn't allowed to wander off aimlessly during important scenes,
the link between scenes is more understandable and less hop skip jump,
the characters are given more depth and structure,
the author maintains steam and ideas throughout and doesn't give up just before the end.
Now that might seem harsh, but I liked the book and the characters within it. It wasn't anything new when it comes to the genre, but it could become a solid favourite amongst fans. It needs more oomph and the author needs to be more confident about the storyline she has and is creating. Perhaps that is why the end seemed to taper off, as if the author wasn't sure where the end was.
The creativity and eye for magical ideas is obviously there and the book was a pleasant read, but I am hoping for a more daring second book in the series.