Book Review: Devon Monk’s Magic in the Shadows

Posted April 4, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Devon Monk’s Magic in the Shadows

Magic in the Shadows


Devon Monk

It is part of the Allie Beckstrom #3 series and is a urban fantasy that was published by ROC on November 3, 2009 and has 363 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Dead Iron, Tin Swift, Hell Bent, Magic to the Bone, Magic in the Blood, Magic on the Storm, Magic at the Gate, Magic on the Hunt, Magic on the Line, Magic Without Mercy, Stone Cold, Magic for a Price, Cold Copper, House Immortal, Infinity Bell

Third in the Allie Beckstrom urban fantasy series set in an alternate Portland, Oregon, and revolving around a unique Hound who tracks magic spells.

My Take

The premise of the Allie Beckstrom series is fascinating, and I have differing levels of enjoyment for the characters. I am conflicted about Allie herself. I appreciate her morals, her dilemma, but I hate her stubborn stupidity. It’s that push-my-way-into-danger trope that really irritates me. She has no skills, can’t take instruction, and ends up putting people in danger because of her insistence on being included. She refuses to learn self-defense, because she knows it all.

One of the conflicts Monk has introduced is Allie’s father possessing her because he wants to come back to life. He wants to be immortal. And Allie never forgets how he treated her, how he prevented her learning anything about magic. It makes everything her father whispers to her suspect. Allie never knows if he’s helping or hindering.

At one point, Daniel takes over Allie’s body to try to save them both — because dumbbell doesn’t know what she’s doing — and she’s ticked off at him for doing it. Sure, I can understand not wanting to give up control of one’s body. Especially to a man like her father. But, duhhh. Learn the magic. Learn the self-defense. Don’t put yourself into stupid situations.

It’s both sweet, creepy, and sad that Daniel finally realizes what he lost with his death. That he wishes he had told Violet how much he loved her. The reactions that Allie feels within herself that her father is projecting! His reaction to seeing Kevin’s behavior around Violet. Eeek!

Zay tells Allie a lot more about magic and how it came to be public.

What is with Chase? I get that she hates Daniel Beckstrom. Why does she feel a need to take it out on Allie? I think she needs to be Closed. Then there’s that test. WHAT is with that? She knows nothing, and they intend to test her? Hasn’t Zayvion told them what Chase did at that abandoned building?

Allie and Monk’s stupid contradictions bug the heck out of me. Supposedly, Allie can use any of her skills, abilities, to win the test. Then she gets penalized for it. No one tells her what the rules are, and she breaks them to win. They want to penalize her for that. Duh, what? Then again, Monk does provide some interesting conflicts. Having to suffer for using magic is an interesting twist.

The characters around Allie are intriguing. Zayvion is a little bit whipped, but also strong in himself. The Hounds present a conflict of nature, common practice, and Allie trying to honor Price’s request. (Davy is such a sweetheart.) The questions raised about Jingo Jingo and his possible involvement in what happened to Daniel. I’m certainly curious as to why he’s referred to as a betrayer and there’s the question of those ghosts who surround him.

All those people who hate Daniel and therefore Allie. Surely if they know Daniel they know that Allie has avoided him most of her adult life? Why are supposedly intelligent people falling into this one? It would have been more interesting if they were merely very cautious around her. Curious even. But they’re ready to lash out and kill her. WTF? And if they’re willing to kill off Allie for being a Beckstrom, why aren’t they going after Violet? After all, she married one.

I’m intrigued enough to continue reading. I want to know more about how Allie battles her way into the Authority. How she gets on with Detective Stotts. How her relationship with Zay proceeds. If Kevin ever gets off his duff about Violet, lol. I like Shame. He’s a cheeky bugger, and I think he’ll be fun. I also want to know how caring for the Hounds will go.

Yeah, there are plenty of questions to which I want answers, and with luck, I’ll be able to tolerate Allie.

The Story

Even dead, her father is damned pushy, insisting that she find those stolen disks. Disks that can store magic and be used by anyone. Still, this is Allie’s first date with Zayvion, and she’s determined to concentrate on a good time. No magic. No father peeping through her eyes!

It might help that her best friend in the whole world has just shown up on her doorstep, intent on an errand of mercy.

It’s a time for revelations as Zayvion reveals what he believes about the two of them, Stotts has a proposition for her as does her father, Violet laying down the defense law with Allie, and the contradictions about and from her father.

The Characters

Allison Beckstrom is a Hound with a unique ability: her body holds magic. At a cost. A cost of holes in her memory and magical tattoos marking her body. She has inherited her mostly-dead father’s successful company, Beckstrom Enterprises. The one he stole out from under his partner, Perry Hoskil. Daniel Beckstrom’s body has been buried, but her father’s spirit has taken up residence in his daughter. He’s determined to come back from the dead with a body — it doesn’t have to be his own, and he’s crazy powerful in his magic, even as a spirit. Violet Beckstrom is his pregnant widow whose bodyguard, Kevin Cooper, is secretly in love with her.

Zayvion Jones is someone very interested in Allie and a Closer for the Authority. He’s also a guardian and the best one to close the gate.

Nola Robbins is Allie’s best friend and runs a farm in Burns, 300 miles from any hint of magic. Jupe is her dog. Stone is a gargoyle Allie brings to life. Grant runs Allie’s favorite coffee shop, Get Mugged. Mama Rossitto runs a restaurant in St. Johns; Boy is one of her kids and works the counter.

Cody Miller is a Hand gone wrong in Magic to the Bone, 1, and is now in a state mental hospital. The police believe that James Hoskil was the brains behind Cody’s crimes.

The Hounds are…
…a unique group of magic users whose ability lies in tracking spells back to the person who cast them. It costs them, and they use alcohol, drugs, pain, and more to ease their pain. Allie is their new leader after events in Magic in the Blood, 2, with Martin Pike. Tomi Nowlan, a loner Hound who cuts, has dumped Davy Silvers, Pike’s righthand man and another Hound. Jack Quinn, the bubbly Bea, and Sid are more of the Hounds in this story.

Portland PD and the MERCs
Detective Paul Stotts is the head of the Magical Enforcement Response Corps (MERCs) and has hired Allie in the past to Hound for him. His wife, Aryanna, died a year ago. Officers Garnet, Roberts, and Julian are Stotts’ MERC crew.

The Authority is…
…an underground organization that has been around for thousands of years and polices magic users. Unfortunately, few of them agree on how to use magic and a war is brewing. Maeve Flynn uses Blood Magic and will be Allie’s teacher. Her husband was killed by Daniel. She runs Feile San Fhomher, a railway station-turned-restaurant that sits on top of one of Portland’s four magic wells. Jingo Jingo is a Death magic user (Allie sees a sadly terrifying visual surrounding him), Liddy‘s second, and Shamus “Shame” Flynn‘s boss. The mouthy Shame is also Maeve’s son. Chase Warren, another Closer, was Zay’s old girlfriend who dumped Zay for Greyson. Victor was Zay and Chase’s teacher. Kevin and her dad’s accountant, Mr. Katz, are part of the test and of the Authority.

Sunny and Terric are Grounders.

The half-man, half-beast Greyson was Chase’s boyfriend and is unkillable, trapped in-between both life and death — and one of the magic-users allied with Dr. Gordon. Dr. Frank Gordon was part of the Authority with his own ideas of how to use magic. Including digging up the body of Allie’s father, so he could kill him (see Magic in the Blood). Mikhail was the leader of the Authority before he died; now Sedra, Mikhail’s widow, is the current leader. I got the impression that Cody was their son.

The Veiled are the remnants of magic users; when they see magic being used, they eat it. The Hungers are creatures released through the gate.

A Closer is an assassin, a memory eraser. Magic demands payment in pain, so for every bit of magic a person uses, they will suffer for it. An Offload is a technique they can use to push that pain onto someone else. Some people accept it for remuneration, some groups are designated as involuntary Offloads, some have no choice.

Complements are two magic users who can work magic together; Soul Complements go a step further with the ability to step into each other’s minds, emotions, pains. If they go too far, they forget who they are as individuals and go insane. Contrasts are magic users who can never use magic together as it screws up the spell.

A Hand can forge a caster’s signature, make you believe that someone else did the magic. Disbursement is a way of dictating how the user will suffer the backlash. Disks are a way to make magic portable. A Necromorph is a magic user who uses magic to transform from being human to…being something else.

Binding forces someone to do as the caster says. Influence allows the caster to dominate a person. Wells tap into the magic deep inside the earth. Void stones project a calming or negating effect on magic. Swamp-walking is a type of tracking that uses emotion-imbued objects. St. Johns is a neighborhood in Portland that has no magic. Allie says it has an honesty.

There are five disciplines of magic: Death (the balance to Life draws the life energy out of a living thing), Blood, Faith, Life (the oldest), and Flux (most recent; appeared after magic went public).

The Cover and Title

The cover appears to have a background of a fire escape against a smoggy sky with Allie in another midriff- and arm-baring red tank top that exposes her colorful tattoos, wearing black pants, and bearing a long machete. There’s another bubble in this one with arcane symbols glowing against its smoky orange-red and green background.

I’m thinking the title is about the Authority, the Magic in the Shadows with the power of life and death.