Book Review: ‘Magic to the Bone’ by Devon Monk

Just finished a book, today, so here’s my review:

  Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

This book is the story of Allison Beckstrom, who works as a Hound in a modern Portland, Oregon with a twist. Her Portland is a city full of magic (except on the North side of the tracks). Yes, the cast spells and do wondrous things sort of magic. But magic in Allison’s world is a little different from the sort of magic we’re used to in books. Oh, sure, there’s hand waving, chanting and casting. But Magic only can be used at a price… the price can be a migraine, the flu, crippling pain… or even, as sometimes happens in Allison’s case, at the cost of parts of your memory.

Her world is very similar to ours, complete with all the modern trappings of science and technology, just add in magic (with that price mentioned), as another one of the technologies. Seems magic was ‘discovered’ about 30 years before the time of the story. And that Allison’s father is the holder of the patents on the technology that allows the storage and transport of magical energy.

Don’t want to pay the price for the magic you cast? Well, then Offload it onto a Proxy. Let someone ELSE pain the price for your miracles. It’s only recently that laws have been put in place to make it so you have to pay people for being your Proxy. And there are still bad people that don’t obey that law. That’s where Allison’s job as a Hound comes in. A Hound has the skills and ability with magic to ‘smell’ and otherwise perceive the signature of a spell, especially a Offload, and trace that signature back to the caster. Allison’s very good at it. But so are others. Think of Hounds as mercenaries or Private Investigators combined with a Bounty Hunter and you won’t be far off.

As you can tell, Devon Monk does a fine job of weaving her tale of Ms Beckstrom and her world, and that it is a rich world with intrigue and interesting times. Her main character is well thought out, and has good motivations and felt very comfortable reading about, at least for me. And this book easily fits into the modern science fiction fantasy niche of paranormal romance, even if the spine calls it Fantasy. Must be all that magic.

If you like urban fantasy with a touch of sex and romance, and a lot of secrets and a rich world (though VERY focused on Portland, not the rest of the world, really… there’s little described outside the city and the things the main character is directly interested in) with magic that has a real cost, then I strongly recommend this book to you. I know I will be interested should there be sequels… for the real story is far from complete.

For those interested in more reviews and a bit from the author other than just the author’s website, I found an interesting blog called The First Book, a website that does Interviews with first time novelists. And they have one with Devon Monk about Magic to the Bone. I found this after reading the book and writing my review. From it I learned it’s the first book in a 3-book deal, and the second book, called Magic in the Blood is coming in May of 2009.

The link I have under the title of the book at the beginning of this review is to Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon, one of my favorite bookstores, even though I have only been there once. But if they are out of stock, here’s the link to it at Fantastic Fiction, and they’re sure to have other sales links for the book. Or you can do your own Google Search.

That’s all for this review. I’ll write more, either on their own like this one, or as part of my regular weekly blog. Thanks for reading.