Book Review: Magic Without Mercy by Devon Monk

Posted June 10, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Magic Without Mercy 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 Without Mercy by Devon Monk
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Roc on April 3, 2012
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Magic itself has been poisoned, and Allie’s undead father may have left the only cure in the hands of a madman. Hunted by the Authority–the secret council that enforces magic’s laws–wanted by the police, and unable to use magic, she’s got to find the cure before the sickness spreads beyond any power to stop it.

But when a Death magic user seeks to destroy the only antidote, Allie and her fellow renegades must stand and fight to defend the innocent and save all magic…

Also by this author: Hell Bent, Magic to the Bone, Magic at the Gate, Magic on the Line, Magic for a Price, House Immortal, Dirty Deeds

Eighth in the Allie Beckstrom urban fantasy series and revolving around the annoying Allie, a Hound. The story is based in Portland.

Don’t even start this series if you don’t like stupid protagonists. Allie starts out irritating and is quite consistent in remaining irritating. So why am I still reading it? I wanna know what her dad is up to, god help me. I also want to know the secret of St. John’s. Supposedly, there is no magic in this neighborhood, but Monk keeps dropping hints about it.

My Take

Keep in mind that I hate Allie, the whiny bitch, and it might *eye roll* taint my review. That out of the way, I see no reason for Allie to become the “leader” of this band of rebels other than Monk wrote that Allie is the leader. Allie does take charge and tell people what to do, and it is out of character for her to be this intelligent and knowledgable about what needs to be done. It’s also unusual for her to be this calm and decisive. Nothing in the past books has led me to believe that she would be a leader. Nor do I understand how people with TONS more experience aren’t the ones issuing the orders and making the decisions. They were the decisive ones in past stories, so why are they wimping out now? Yeah, yeah, I know. Allie is the protagonist, and she has to lead. I’m sorry. That’s not good enough. Build a character who will take charge. Who will be believable as a leader. Instead, let me count the ways in which I find Allie annoying.

She charges in without thought. She thinks of her own wants…no, it’s not wants, but she doesn’t want to hold back. I can appreciate that she wants to be helpful and participate. But she refuses to consider her weaknesses. Like the fact that using or being around magic makes her so sick that she can become unconscious. Yep, the ideal person you want around if using magic isn’t enough and you have to beat a quick retreat, using both hands to protect yourself. *sorry, must pull tongue out of cheek…nnnngh*

Ooh, Allie can’t use a gun! How awful to kill a person using a gun. Ooh, ick, ick. Swords are so much better *eye roll*. Dead is dead. How is using a sword any different from using a gun? Other than, ahem, bullets are quicker than magic and give you a better chance for survival? Christ, my eyes are rolling so hard and fast, I’m getting dizzy. At the park, she decides to go off and reconnoiter. Alone. ‘Cause, yeah, she can protect herself without magic. She’ll talk ’em to death.

Nothing Monk has written can convince me that Allie is a leader; if anyone can find such evidence, please comment. It’s quite possible I’m prejudiced. No, really??

If Allie is so proud of her Hounds’ loyalty, why does she think for one minute that the Hounds would consent to work with the police to find her?

How can so many magic users who have worked with Allie, Zay, Shame, Terric, Maeve, and Hayden go against them now and side with Jingo Jingo? How has anyone not seen how evil Jingo is? This was stupid. Even more stupid, when Jingo is slinging his “truths” at Allie, he also reveals that he knows that Daniel is inside Allie. All this time, he’s been claiming there’s no one inside her. Now, he’s changed his mind? How does no one catch this? It’s like Monk wants what she wants (hmmm, just like Allie…), and how events play out doesn’t have to make sense. Ya just gotta write it that way. How stupid does she think her readers are?

I will give Daniel credit for thinking and planning ahead. That recording device was brilliant, although I do wonder what all his yelling was about when he splatted that bit of black magic on Stone’s head. It’s as if he knew that he could use Stone to bring magic back together. What is it about that gun Collins gave Allie that is so special?

There’s that variant on the don’t-give-anyone-information trope when Allie keeps refusing to take the time to tell Stotts the names of the Authority. Yeah, ’cause it would take all day and all night to give him a few names to start with. Why do that when you can keep re-using this trope to create tension and drama. Oooh.

And I’ve never agreed with that stupid idea of preventing Stotts from knowing about the Authority and magic. It would have been useful to have a cop “on the payroll”, so to speak. No, instead the Authority would rather Close his memories every time he stumbles over a magical incident. The fact that he’s the head of the division that investigates magical crime is no excuse to give him any weapons to use in that battle.

Another twisted trope is the one where one simply must lurch from one battle to the next with no rest in between. The drama. The tension. Thank god Allie is surrounded by more intelligent people. Well, more intelligent sometimes at least. Another trope is how it’s all Allie’s fault. Yep, every single negative thing that happened. It’s as if Monk had a list of tropes she had to incorporate. Maybe it was a bet.

I would think that Nola knows that Allie is wanted by the police. So, why would she call Paul and tell him where Allie was?

They are fairly confident that the wells are tainted, poisoned. This is likely to be their only chance to visit the well. Do they consider that they might want samples? That they might need a container for those samples? Why, no. It’s Allie in charge — and back to her usual stupid self. Why would she think ahead? And be so practical? If Monk wanted an excuse to use Stone, why not have them bring a container that couldn’t hold the taint? Make it more dramatic and then think of using Stone? No, it’s so much more consistent to do the Allie-thing and be stupid.

Well, after the way Victor Uncloses Eli, I’m not sure I’ll cry in the next book.

I actually do like the rest of the core characters in this series. Monk has created a complex world of magic — a definite twist on how most of us think of magic — with some nasty side effects. Now, if she’d only killed off Allie…

The Story

Magic is poisoned, and it’s killing people. It’s only destroying Portland, so far. It will soon spread throughout the world if our intrepid team of rebels can’t discover an antidote and save the world.

The Characters

Allie Beckstrom is a Hound who can no longer use magic and is possessed by her dead father, Daniel. Daniel is a complex guy and a major jerk. Sometimes he seems like he actually loves his daughter, but all the evidence points to him being a megalomaniac. And selfish at that. Violet Beckstrom is his widow, and she had Daniel’s baby, Daniel Jr., in Magic on the Hunt, 6. Kevin Cooper is Violet’s bodyguard and secretly in love with her. Stone is a stone gargoyle, an Animate who loves to stack things. Anything. Nola Robbins is Allie’s best friend and doesn’t use magic. She’s dating Stotts and cares for the non-magic, mentally challenged half of the Closed Cody Miller.

The rest of our band of rebels includes…
Zayvion Jones, Allie’s Soul Complement and a Closer — all Zen smooth and deadly — and was once the Guardian of the Gates using all magics until he rebelled against the Authority. Shamus Flynn uses Death magic, and I’m surprised this boy is still alive. Terric Conley is his Soul Complement, and Jingo Jingo appointed Terric as the Voice of Faith.

Shame’s mother, Maeve Flynn, the former Voice for Blood, was Closed and Unclosed by the rebels along with Victor Forsythe, the former head of the Closers and Voice of Faith. Hugh is the husband Daniel killed. Hayden Kellerman is Maeve’s boyfriend from Alaska (at least in the last few books). Roman Grimshaw, the last guardian of the gate, was one of the prisoners who escaped in Magic on the Hunt. He’d been imprisoned by “Sedra”.

The Authority is…
…the secretive underground magic organization that supposedly polices all magic users. The Ward is the power over a region. Margaret Stafford, the current Overseer, is the head of all Authorities throughout the world. Jingo Jingo, an evil Death magic user, was appointed the head of the Portland Authority in spite of his many crimes.

Authority members who show up to fight against the rebels include Ethan Katz, Allie’s accountant; Carl and La, the twins; the three Georgia sisters: Savannah, Atlanta, and ??; Nick Pavloski and Joshua Romero, who are Closers using Faith magic; Mike Barham, who thinks Daniel was a good man is Life magic; Paige Iwamoto is Blood magic; Dr. Fisher is the Authority’s medic; Sunny is Davy’s girlfriend; and, Melissa Whit, the Blood truth bitch.

The Hounds are…
…magic users who can smell magic, take it apart, and trace it back to its original caster. Some of the Hounds include the dying Davy Silvers being treated by Eli Collins, Sid Westerly, Bea Lufkin who’s dating Jack Quinn, Jamar Legare, Theresa Garcia, and the new Hound, Karl.

Martin Pike was a legend as a Hound. He also cared about his fellow Hounds and started up a support group which Allie took over after he died in Magic in the Blood, 2. Lately he’s been popping in as a ghost with information.

Detective Paul Stotts heads the Magical Enforcement Response Corps division of the Portland PD which is responsible for crimes involving magic.

Mama Rositto runs a restaurant in St. John’s. Boy(s) is/are the name she gives every boy Mama takes in. Perry Hoskil had been her husband and Daniel’s partner before Daniel forced him out and into bankruptcy. Their son, James Hoskil, had tried to kill one of her Boys and frame Daniel for it (Magic to the Bone, 1). Cody Miller‘s spiritual half has attached himself to her. He’s the more adult half who remembers. He is also the man, the Hand, who created Stone. His parents were Sedra and Mikhail. Both dead now. Dr. Ed Tullis will help heal the wounded. An artist friend of Mama’s, Mrs. Stanley, converted a church into a house.

Grant Rhine owns and runs Get Mugged, Allie’s favorite coffee shop. He’s also proven himself to be a loyal friend.

Eli “Collins the Cutter” is a sadistic torturer who experimented on people and was Closed for it by Victor.

Leander and Isabelle were the Soul Complements who went rogue five hundred years ago and forced the Authority of their time to split magic. They are trying to return and take over the world.

The Veiled are fragments of magic users that are still hanging around and are attracted to magic, to eat it. There are five kinds of magic: Life, Death, Blood, Faith, and Flux. Magic was split hundreds of years ago into dark and light after a pair of Soul Complements, a couple who enhance each other’s magic, went rogue. Closers are the assassins. They also Close people’s minds, able to select memories, remove the ability to do magic, kill, and open gates. To Proxy a spell is to cause someone else to endure the pain of the magic you are using. A Disbursement is a spell the user casts choosing what kind of pain to suffer for using magic. A Focal is a person who must hold light and dark magic long enough to heal it.

The Cover and Title

The cover is black, grays, and white with a cocky Allie in her low-rise black jeans, black cropped tank top, and black leather jacket, one hand holds a gun pointing at the ground while the other holds a sword, pointing up. The background is a stormy sky with highway overpasses framing Allie at odd angles.

It’s Magic Without Mercy as both sides battle for supremacy.

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2 responses to “Book Review: Magic Without Mercy by Devon Monk

  1. Yeah, I haven’t been enjoying this whole series, but I’m too curious to find out more about Allie’s father to give up. And to find out what happens to magic at the end. Sigh…

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