Book Review – Magic in the Blood

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Title: Magic in the Blood
Author: Devon Monk
Publisher: ROC Fantasy
Edition: Paperback
Year: 2009

Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk, is the second book in the Allie Beckstrom series. It is not as good as its predecessor, but did that stop me from reading it 20 times faster than I read the first one?

Nope, not in the slightest.

Allie is having a rough time at the beginning of the novel. She’s still missing three weeks of memory from her run-in with magic at the end of Magic to the Bone, and so much happened in those three weeks she’s having a hard time picking up on everything that happens around her. She’s also even less trustworthy than before, in great deal because her body remembers what she doesn’t. This is particularly difficult around Zayvion.

And there is my biggest problem with the novel. There is not enough Zay for my liking. I love that boy, I wish Zay was my best guy friend in the world. Heck yes, I’d date Zay. And yet Allie’s distrust of Zay and other issues that we don’t learn about until the last chapter keep Zay from Allie’s side for the majority of the book. My absolute favorite scenes are when Zay shows up at her house with a box of pizza, determined to play protector whether she likes it or not. Those scenes were an absolute riot, and the goldmine of these books thus far have been the interaction between Allie and Zay. The third book seems to promise much more Zay again, I hope that’s true.

The book also creeps a little deeper into popular urban fantasy. Still no vampires or werewolves, but there is a very definite ghost presence, which Allie has not come even close to resolving by the end of the book. I do like how everyone has their own level of ghost belief, though, very much like we have in our society today. However, many of Allie’s encounters with ghosts and the Veiled creeped me out. This is not the best book to be reading past midnight after you heard the gate on your patio creak loudly.

Not that I did that or anything.

What I still love most about Monk’s writing is her sensory details. I’d say about 80% of her descriptions are taste or smell. Yes, everyone uses them both from time to time, but when Allie Hounds a spell and sticks her tongue out to taste it, it creates such a different image, invoking a much deeper understanding of a skill and technology that doesn’t exist. You start to sense things with Allie by the end of the book, you’re recognizing the smells, know what she is worried about without Monk having to write it. You keep hoping she’ll smell pine and feel mint and you cringe when she smells wintergreen and leather. It’s a fabulous use of the senses.

You also get a much better sense of Allie and where Allie fits in her Portland setting. You meet many of the other Hounds in the city—Hounds that don’t want to kill her—and you see how she interacts with them and the Police. Allie’s place in society makes more sense than it did in the first book, and you get to see a great deal more of her at work on the job, and you realize just how good she is.

So, don’t read this without reading Magic to the Bone. You wouldn’t do yourself any favors. It was a solid book, but not as good as the first. That said, though, the last few chapters promise a much better third book. And it’s sitting on my “to-read” pile waiting for me.

Grade: B

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