Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Magic in the Blood, by Devon Monk

Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom)
One of the things I like about this book, the second in the Allie Beckstrom series by Monk, is that it very closely reflects something that I've noticed is true about life. If you have a set of problems or challenges, and you begin to work your way through them, you can probably overcome or eliminate a certain subset of those problems, but in the meantime, some other ones will come along, and you'll end up, in any given short time period, with a new set of problems, consisting of a few of the old, plus a few of the new, with another subset of both new and old problems solved. At least, that's how it appears to me, most days.

So Allie begins this book with some old problems, such as her memory loss from overuse of magic, the ambiguous nature of her relationship with Zayvion, getting settled in a new apartment after the old one was trashed in Magic to the Bone, figuring out where she fits in the business empire her father created and willed her a controlling interest in, meeting with the police to clear up some details surrounding her last case, deciding what type of relationship she may have with her father's widowed fifth wife, and so forth.

And then we have the new problems. One of them is actually an old problem which resurfaces, when a criminal named Trager, who Allie testified against to put away in prison for thirty years, is released early. He corners her on a bus, and threatens her life if she doesn't bring him a man named Pike, a fellow Hound who was also instrumental in convicting Trager. He also works blood magic on her which connects and binds her to him, so he can summon her whenever he wants.

Allie also has an encounter of the strange kind with her father's ghost, who warns her about mystical things which are happening in the city. She also begins to encounter some other, more malicious, ghosts, which show up whenever she's working magic and "eat" her magical energy.

At her meeting with the police, Stott, the head of a somewhat secret special department within the police force which deals strictly with magical crimes recruits her to help him solve the mystery of the abductions of several young girls. Her old Hound friend, Pike, recruits her to help him lead The Pack, a loosely bound group of fellow Hounds who try to provide each other with backup and support.

Despite her challenges, however, Allie begins to rethink her lone wolf stance, and to realize that she has some friends and allies, which may perhaps counter the opponents that just keep cropping up. She risks becoming a pawn in a political and magical struggle, and must learn some new coping skills quickly to survive the coming battles. This second book in the series is, I think, an improvement on the first, and I can only hope that the sequels continue to build.

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