Book Review: Hell Bent by Devon Monk

January 3, 2014 Book Reviews 0

Book Review:  Hell Bent by Devon MonkHell Bent by Devon Monk
Series: Broken Magic, #1
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Roc on November 5, 2013
Pages: 348
Format: Paperback
Source: the library
Goodreads

Instead of the deadly force it once was, magic is now a useless novelty. But not for Shame Flynn and Terric Conley, “breakers” who have the gift for reverting magic back to its full-throttle power. In the magic-dense city of Portland, Oregon, keeping a low profile means keeping their gifts quiet. After three years of dealing with disgruntled magic users, Shame and Terric have had enough of politics, petty magic, and, frankly, each other. It’s time to call it quits.

When the government discovers the breakers’ secret—and its potential as a weapon—Shame and Terric suddenly become wanted men, the only ones who can stop the deadly gift from landing in the wrong hands. If only a pair of those wrong hands didn’t belong to a drop-dead-gorgeous assassin Shame is falling for as if it were the end of the world. And if he gets too close to her, it very well could be...

Also by this author: Magic to the Bone, Magic at the Gate, Magic on the Line, Magic Without Mercy, Magic for a Price, House Immortal

First in the Broken Magic urban fantasy series based in Portland, Oregon. The couple focus is on Shamus and Terric with a view to introducing the series.

I keep meaning to read the Allie Beckstrom series and hadn’t realized this took up from it. I don’t think you need to read it to read this.

My Take
Well this is different. For one, the tale is about two guys paired up. No, not like that. Only one of them is gay while the other partner is straight. It’s more a study of contrasts which complement the other: life and death. Literally. Soul Complements who are in danger from governments wanting to use them.

It’s a tough talent to deal with, a constant struggle to not consume life. Of course, it doesn’t seem to be any picnic to carry life magic either. You never think how an ability to encourage life could be bad.

You’d think Shamus would be smarter than to accept a drink from an assassin…nor that the two of them could be so bloody stupid later on. Especially with all the information they go in with. Duhhh.

I do like the twist Monk has given magic, and the addition of the government conspiracy certainly makes it terrifying, but it’s odd. There’s a disorganized feel to this, even though it really isn’t. It reads more like an introduction that is just getting started. Not like a complete story by itself. And the government conspiracy angle, while frightening, seems clichéd. I suspect the greatest interest in Hell Bent will be in its being a subseries to Allie Beckstrom. We’ll see where Stone Cold goes when it comes out in April.

Then there’s the whole question about what happened to magic that required it to be healed. It’s vague, which is irritating. At one point, Monk says that Soul Complements almost destroyed the world. She also talks about Cody healing it even as it destroys his brain. That this event, which occurred three years ago, revealed magic’s existence to the world. I guess it’s part of what annoys me. The vagueness which I assume is meant to intrigue and make me want to read the next in the series.

The Story
God, he’s a whiny thing, this Shamus who has abdicated all responsibility. And he’s not so happy when he finds he’s officially losing all responsibility.

It only gets worse for Shamus as he comes back to life and discovers all that he cares about.

The Characters
Shamus “Shame” Flynn lives at his mum’s inn and wields death magic. Eleanor Roth is the ghost of a woman whom Shame drained. Terric Conley wields life. Together they’re Soul Complements and the head of the Authority in Portland. Even if Shamus avoids the whole thing. Maeve, Shamus’ mum, and Hayden have been staying in Alaska.

Dessa Leeds is an an assassin sniper, looking for a killer. Her brother, Thomas Leeds, is a Closer, a magic user who takes people’s memories away. Jinkies is the name of her ferret. Krogher was Dessa’s boss.

Detective Paul Stotts is human and very moral; his girlfriend, Nola, is Allie’s best friend. Detective Mackanie Love has a long history with Shamus.

The Authority is the law enforcement organization which chases down illegal magic and deadly creatures. The Overseer Salvatore Moretti is in charge of the world.

The local magic users include Zayvion Jones, a former Guardian of the gates, who is Shame’s best friend and a real goody-goody; the newly pregnant Allie Beckstrom, a former Hound, is his girl (see the Allie Beckstrom series). Stone is a construction of stone and gears powered by magic, Allie’s loyal companion, and created by Cody. Kevin Cooper used to be Violet Beckstrom-Cooper‘s bodyguard before she took over her husband’s magic and tech enterprise; now they’re married with a son, Daniel.

Victor Forsythe is old-school and was one of Shamus’ teachers, with some very dirty tricks; Clyde Turner handles Blood magic and becomes the new Head of Authority in Portland; Melba Maide seems to be a lawyer; and, Ethan Katz is the Beckstrom accountant. Dashiell Spade is the Authority assistant in Portland. He’s got a hidden passion for Terric. Joshua Romero was a Closer, who had been counseling magic users.

Those who aren’t local include three Soul Complement couples: Doug and Nancy Williams, legends; Simone Latchly and Brian Welling from San Diego; and, Anthony Pardes and Holly Doyle from Arizona.

Davy Silvers is a Hound and the head of the entire Portland network. Hounds track illegal spells back to the caster. Martin Pike had been a Hound and Davy’s mentor. Gillian is another Hound. Sunny is a Blood magic user and seems to lead the Hounds.

Eli “the Cutter” Collins is a sociopath who likes to cut people. He used to be Allie’s boyfriend and had worked experimental magic and technology integrations with her very dead, very disturbed father. His Soul half is the lost Brandy Scott. Cody Miller had some hot skills that were too dangerous for words; he was broken several times and still stepped up when needed.

Black Crane Syndicate
Jeremy Wilson is Terric’s boyfriend [convenient if you have stage three brain cancer] and tied into a family of Blood magic users (and how Terric can be so blind, I’ll never know). Phillip Soto is the leader while Rene Schuller is the second-in-command.

When magic was broken, and the light and dark were rejoined, all magic broke, including the spells put on people to remove their memories. Memories that came flooding back. Soul Complements, a.k.a., Breakers, are the only ones who can still wield strong magic if they do it together. The only problem is, the more they wield it, the more it binds them together.

The Cover
The cover is is yellows and yellow-greens in a stark contrast of bright and dark under a bridge with Dessa walking in the light with her gun out as Shamus waits for her, peering around a bridge support, his gun up.

The title is Shamus, for he’s Hell Bent on revenge.

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