Book Review: Magic for a Price by Devon Monk

Posted July 8, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Magic for a Price by Devon Monk

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.

Magic for a Price by Devon Monk
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Roc on November 6, 2012
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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For most of her life, Allison Beckstrom has used magic and accepted the heavy price it exacts. But now that all magic is poisoned, it’s no longer just using people—it’s killing them.

With Portland about to descend into chaos, Allie needs to find a way to purify the wells of tainted magic beneath the city. But the only options left to her are grim: attempt to close down all four magic wells, or follow her father’s plan to set magic into the right hands—even though she’s learned to never trust his word.

Now, Allie will have to make a choice and face the darkness of her own deepest fears, before time runs out for them all…

Also by this author: Hell Bent, Magic to the Bone, Magic at the Gate, Magic on the Line, Magic Without Mercy, House Immortal, Dirty Deeds

Ninth and, thank god, last in the Allie Beckstrom urban fantasy series and revolving around a young Hound who has found her Soul Complement. And the only one in the world who can save it…poor thing.

It’s been two days since Magic Without Mercy, 8.

My Take

Well, this was annoying. I’ve only been reading this series to find out how her father behaves at the end, and…what a letdown. The greatest intrigue in the whole series has been Dad shifting and shying away from telling Allie anything meaningful. She has to drag it out of him. Continually. And he’s always holding something back. When we finally do learn why Dad behaved as he did. Lame. I should have expected this. Being lame must be a genetic thing since I find Allie so lame.

You may have noticed that I can’t stand Allie. And I am consistent to the end. I still hate her. She behaves so stupidly. She doesn’t like that the Portland Authority is using Proxies again to push the pain of using magic onto others (who have signed up to do just that). Because, oh yeah, it’s so much more practical for those who must defend Portland against the enemies to be wracked with pain and not able to keep people alive. And even better, just being around magic makes Allie sick. So, hey, let’s make sure Allie has to use magic AND take the pain of it. How helpful would that be?? Sorry, sarcasm run amuck…

Allie just doesn’t stop handing me that ammunition to hate her. She gets sick if she uses magic. She’s practically dying after this second well. She’ll be needed on the third one. And she’s being pissy because no one is planning to let her attack and protect to get to that well. Even though it’s iffy that she can even seal that third one. And that she’s the only one of them all who can do it. No, she wants to play at everything. Wahhh. Slap that bitch for me!

She’s whining at everyone to do their job. To suck it up. And as soon as Zay takes off to help others, she starts whining about how she can’t do this without him. Wahhhh. Slap her some more. What? Zay is going to sacrifice himself? Not without her. No, she’d rather go die with him than do the job she’s supposed to be doing. Saving the people of Portland. The ones she’s been whinging on about it being a sacred trust for her to protect. Wahhh, some more. Okay, so it’s actually Allie’s dad doing the spells and using her body. It’s desperately beyond important that they get this job done. So what does Allie do? You got it. She wants to argue with her father about “what magic is doing to us”. Bugger me blind. Then she gets annoyed that daddy has told her to shut up and let him concentrate. Well, how dare he!

That’s Allie, consistent all the way. Shame lost control for a bit and drank down lives. He’s miserable about it, and Allie is pushing at him to talk about it. Oh, yeah. That’s the time you want to sit someone down and have a heart-to-heart, right in the middle of battle. We’ll just ask everyone to take a time-out, shall we?

It is an interesting world of magic that Monk has created. Such a powerful ability to fling magic about, but such a price to pay to use it. Having the five types of magic — Faith, Blood, Flux, Death, and Life — is another fascinating twist. More interesting is that the world has been using magic to replace electricity, natural gas, and oil for the past 30 years. Although, Allie does note that “it cost too much in pain to run your house on magic”. Which begs the question: so why is the world being run on magic? Oh, wait, it’s cheaper to use when you’re using taxes to pay for it, and it’s not coming out of your pocket. Settles that question.

At last! Shame and Terric finally work magic together to find out what they can and cannot do together. It’s an amazing end result, stunning in so many ways.

Interesting that Davy’s anger with Allie is all gone now. As if it had never been. Even more interesting is that revelation about Allie and Eli. Yuck.

It does annoy me greatly that Allie keeps jumping into leadership roles, especially since I still haven’t seen any great reason for it other than her money. She’s so easily distracted. But Zay’s reasoning on why Allie should lead this fight are excellent ones. Reasons I can finally get behind.

Yep, it’s life and death now. Does Allie pay attention to the spells her dad uses in case she has to step in? Naw. Why would she do that? I mean, life always goes as you plan, doesn’t it?

Finally, everyone in Portland is on the same page, magic-users and non-magic people. It only makes sense. And I do love how they work together using their individual strengths.

I don’t get these people. Why would each city’s Authority be so autonomous? So unwilling to ask hard questions? Someone says jump, and all they ask is how high? Gimme a break. Seattle and Portland obviously know each other. They’ve worked together. The fight a couple days ago included Seattle magic-users. Didn’t they report back to their own Authority? Don’t they know each other? Don’t they wonder???

Okay, I like getting the explanation about why Allie’s memories were lost. But it doesn’t explain why Allie kept losing her memories as an adult. Sure Monk claims it’s the magic, but considering how important this particular weakness has been, I think we deserved better than this one-off, vague explanation. Of course, I am prejudiced against the series.

The Story

Magic is still poisoned. The Veiled are still attacking the living. And Seattle has been ordered to kill every magic-user in Portland.

The Portland Authority will need the help of the entire city to enable everyone to survive. And they’re all ready to step up.

Luckily, Roman Grimshaw locked down gate travel when he died.

The Characters

Allie Beckstrom is a Hound and a magic-user. Daniel Beckstrom is the dead father possessing her mind. The one with the plans for his immortality and how magic should be used. Violet Beckstrom is her stepmother and her father’s widow. She’s also the new mother for Daniel Beckstrom, Jr. Kevin Cooper has been Violet’s bodyguard from the beginning, and we find out that he’s incredibly wealthy with his own estate. So, why has he been playing bodyguard? He’s also secretly in love with Violet. Stone is the Animate gargoyle who adores Allie.

Nola Robbins is Allie’s best friend, a full-human with no magic who has always kept Allie on track. And she takes her frustrations out in baking. I could use a friend like this… Cody Miller is the young man she had taken in some time ago when his self was split in two, although he has been put back together. The son of Mikhale and Sedra Miller, two Soul Complements, Cody is a savant, “an artist whose ability with magic is even more rare than Soul Complements”. Detective Paul Stotts heads up the Magical Enforcement Response Corps within the Portland PD. He’s in love with Nola. His MERC team includes Roberts, Garnett, and Julian.

Zayvion Jones can use all magics and is Portland’s Gate Guardian. He and Allie are in love and Soul Complements.

The Hounds are…
…magic-users who can follow the scent of magic to the person who cast it. While they usually work for the police and anyone who can pay them, for the past few stories they have been working for Allie. Davy Silvers is Allie’s righthand man in the Pack. Yep, he’s still around although he has to work hard to stay solid. On the positive side, he wields magic like a frickin’ demon. Sunny is a Blood magic user and Davy’s girlfriend. Jack Quinn and Bea, Jamar Legare, and Sid are some of the other Hounds.

The Authority is…

…the policing organization that governs the use of magic throughout the world. Leander and Isabelle are still “alive” (they were the first two Soul Complements and because of them magic had to be broken) and possessing the Overseer, the most powerful person within the Authority, Margaret Stafford. Sam Arch is the Ward, the regional director.

The Portland Authority has been…
…in a war. Jingo Jingo is dead. The walking wounded include Victor Forsythe, the former Voice for Faith, and Maeve Flynn, the former Voice for Blood, who have had their memories restored. Maeve is also Shamus Flynn’s mother. Hayden Kellerman is Maeve’s boyfriend who lost a hand in Magic Without Mercy, 8. Thomas is overseeing the Proxy pool. Grace has returned from an assignment in Canada. Dr. Fischer is their medic. Brant, Irene, and Ethan Katz are there.

Shame Flynn wields Death magic like a master, and he is the Life-magic-using Terric Conley‘s Soul Complement. No matter how strongly Shame denies it. In past stories, they have sacrificed themselves over and over for the other, and those sacrifices have done something to them, to their magic.

We first met Mama Rossitto in Magic to the Bone, 1, when she asked for Allie’s help. She’s spent her life rescuing young boys — and they’re all named Boy. Now we’ve come full circle to the truth about her and Daniel Beckstrom.

The Seattle Authority is being…
…sent to kill every magic user in Portland and includes Rodney and Eleanor Roth.

I guess Carl and La are helping Portland.

George and Lorraine were Soul Complements in Wales; John and Cherie in France; and, Alessandro and Anna in Italy. Hector and Chloe in New York. Michael and Lark are the first willing to listen.

Grant runs Get Mugged, Allie’s favorite coffee shop.

Dr. Eli “the Cutter” Collins had been Closed and kicked out years ago for his torturous experimentations. He’s also saved Davy’s life and stood with them against Jingo Jingo.

Soul Complements are two magic users who are linked to each other and can make magic bend the rules. Using magic is painful, so magic-users can choose a Proxy, someone who is paid to bear the pain for them. Void stones tamp down your magic.

The Cover and Title

The cover is Allie in her black leather jacket and jeans, her katana behind her head, both hands on the hilt. She’s looking at us with intent, ready to swing as the world erupts in swirls of fire behind her, a bridge above her and the city of Portland behind.

The title is the deal Daniel made, the Magic for a Price to save what he held most dear.

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2 responses to “Book Review: Magic for a Price by Devon Monk

  1. Great review. Sorry it didn’t give you what you hoped for in the end. Especially when you couldn’t stand Allie. That takes perseverance to continue.

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