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Review: Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

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Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom Series #1) by Devon Monk
Urban Fantasy, Magic
Mass Market Paperback (ROC, 368 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0451462408
Using magic means it uses you back, and every spell exacts a price from its user. But some people get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent. Then it’s Allison Beckstrom’s job to identify the spell-caster. Allie would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence than accept the family fortune—and the strings that come with it. But when she finds a boy dying from a magical Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into his world of black magic. And the forces she calls on in her quest for the truth will make her capable of things that some will do anything to control...
Author Site:

Every Little Thing She Does (5 stars)

Allie Beckstrom is a Hound, the best damn Hound running around Portland, Oregon. Magic use has a price to all who use it. Maybe something as simple as a week long sore throat but maybe something far more painful and potentially deadly. When someone isn't willing to pay the price an illegal Offload onto a stranger can prove useful. That's where Allie comes in and finds out who has done it. Tracking down the Offloader and making sure they get prosecuted for their crimes can be a dangerous line of work and in Allie's case not very profittable. But how can she turn down a little pro bono Hounding when a child is nearly killed by an illegal offload?

When her Hounding leads her back to her father's door after walking away seven years ago she falls into a side of magic she never knew existed. The hunter becomes the hunted and everything Allie knows about the fundamentals of magic begins to come into question. Could someone have forged her father's signature on the Offload? What does the man her father hired to follow her, Zayvion Jones, have to do with all of this? And just who can she trust in a world where magic can be both friend and foe?

It's not often I intentionally take a book a bit slow when I want to read it fast. Magic to the Bone was such a good read, never getting too slow or becoming so confusing I had to backtrack. Allie is impossible to compare to other heroines of the genre. One of the prices of her magic use is memory loss, something that really gives her depth and keeps her interesting. The contrast between she and her non-magic user friend Nola is a real treat. It isn't often that you get to enjoy a character who stands outside the realm of the wild and the weird confidently, Nola really balances Allie out and plays a great supporting role. The dynamic between these two was very refreshing! A relationship between friends that felt real.

Being a native of the Pacific Northwest I have to note that I loved how well Monk writes the locations she uses to the point that they feel like another character. There's nothing generic about them so it is easy to imagine yourself seeing what Allie sees.

One can't review this book without also commenting on Zayvion Jones. I liked him from the moment he showed up on the page. He's mysterious and cool, pretty much everything Allie isn't. He has a confidence that isn't easily shaken and makes for a great hero to Allie's heroine. Their relationship throughout the story did feel a tiny bit rushed but that's Allie's personality coming through. Like Nola I wanted to shout at her to be careful!

Overall it was an excellent read, one not to be missed. A well built mythos and magic system, characters that are likable but still leave some fleshing out for further novels and just overall smooth narration.

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