Friday, December 17, 2010

Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk

Magic at the Gate: An Allie Beckstrom Novel
There are just some things that just go directly to the pleasure center of the brain, such as that first plunge into the hot tub on a snowy winter evening, or the first gulp of Gatorade after a strenuous workout on the racquetball court. Getting to finally crack the covers on my new copy of Magic at the Gate, the latest in the Allie Beckstrom series, was one of those things.

The story picks up right where Magic on the Storm left us hanging on the edge of the cliff, with Allie stepping through the gate into Death, trying to rescue her lover, Zayvion's soul. Most days, the living can't, this side of the gate, but Allie is fortunate in two ways. First, she's accompanied by Stone, her "pet" gargoyle, and by touching him constantly, she can actually breath the air in Death, for a time. Second, her father's spirit lives inside of her head, and he is also able to lend her some of his power to survive on the other side.

Her journey, while strange, is fairly uneventful until she reaches the place where Zayvion's soul is held in chains by Mikhail, a dead magician, while a crowd of the Veiled, other dead magic users, feeds on his energy. There are plots afoot, which her father has been a part of, on this side of the gate, too, as even the dead seem to have an agenda, including a return to power in the land of the living...Portland. Make what you will of that.

Allie is able to bargain with Mikhail to take Z's soul back, but she has to pay a steep price to do so. I kept thinking Monk was going to pull a trick out of ancient mythology, and let Allie lose the soul forever because she looked back at the wrong moment, but tradition was not satisfied. After getting Zayvion's soul back in his body, he still is in a coma, which allows the author some time to let Allie get to know the survivors of the battle during the wild magic storm a bit better, and to begin to work with them to deal with the latest threats to the city.

Dozens of the magic storage disks that her father invented were stolen by the folks who betrayed the Council during the battle, and someone has been using them to give the Veiled an energy source that makes them able to manifest more solidly on this side of the gate, and to work magic here, as well. Gates are opening up all over town, and the remaining good guys are being run ragged trying to close them down before creepy crawlie nasties get through.

Lots of great action, a few good reveals, and plenty of conflicts left to resolve, mysteries to solve. My only gripe is that it was over too soon.

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