Monday, November 17, 2008

Magic To The Bone - Devon Monk


Magic To The Bone
Devon Monk
Roc

Urban Fantasy

In the thirty or so years since magic’s discovery, man has learned to collect it, store it, and use it. Of course, this has opened whole new areas of business and crime. Because any time someone uses magic, there’s a price to pay for it. Some users have discovered that they can Offload the consequences of magic use; some use hired Proxies, some use unsuspecting victims.

Allie Beckstrom makes her living as a Hound. When an innocent is hit with an illegal Offload, she can trace the magic’s signature back to its source. Usually, it’s some corporation trying to cut corners and not caring who gets hurt. The victim (or the victim’s survivors) can sue and collect damages. When Allie discovers a five-year-old child suffering from the effects of an Offload, it infuriates her. The magic traces back to someone she cut ties with years ago: her millionaire father.

While he denies Offloading onto a kid, he admits that he’s got someone watching Allie. That someone is Zayvion Jones. Allie feels a kinship with Zayvion that she can’t explain. Before she can explore that, the news is reporting that her father is dead. The timing of his death puts it just after Allie’s visit. The visit of an angry daughter who has been estranged for years. The police want to talk to her, and there are other, more unscrupulous people who would like to get their hands on her, too. Some might even want to talk first.

This is the first novel in a new urban fantasy series, and it sets the bar fairly high. The system of magical collection and use in this world is original, strange, and strangely plausible. The balance (magic gives and takes away) also makes sense. In Allie’s case, the price is often pain. Sometimes, without rhyme or reason, though, the magic takes part of her memory. She carries a notebook that contains her name and vital statistics, and notes of her current case, against the frightening and very real possibility that magic will take these memories.

The notebook really showcases her essential vulnerability. She’s no superwoman; she’s just a person who does what she believes is right, regardless of the consequences to herself. She makes mistakes, but she learns. Since the story is told from her point of view, the reader makes the journey of discovery right along with her. In short, she’s a real and likeable heroine in the midst of magic and mayhem. The plot is fairly complex, but moves along at a great pace. The ending leaves the door open for future volumes, and I’m hoping they appear soon.

Rating: 7 ½
November 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-46240-4 (paperback)

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