Friday, November 18, 2011

Magic on the Line by Devon Monk

The seventh in the Allie Beckstrom series, Magic on the Line seems like a transitional novel, part of a longer volume marking the change in leadership of the Authority from the old guard to the young turks, perhaps. After the battle with Leander and Isabelle and their minions at the Life Well, Allie's convalescence is cut short by her interview with Bartholomew Wray, the outsider who has been placed in charge of the Authority after the crisis. Wray and his cronies rub Allie the wrong way from the beginning, seeming to be more interested in a political coverup than actually getting to the bottom of the problem and protecting the public from the evildoers.

At the end of Wray's "investigation", his hand-picked team is primarily put in charge in Portland, and the former leaders are Closed (have their magical memories and abilities wiped), including Shamus' mother, Maeve, plus most of the magic users from Seattle who had come to help out the Portland Authority during the recent magic storm and resulting crises. Zayvion, of course, was forced to Close them, and he goes into a guilt-ridden funk for a time, which Allie has to work through with him.

The Veiled are now infected with a magical plague, and when one is able to escape from the wells where they have been confined, they infect the living with the disease, causing a horrible death among magic users, and merely flu-like symptoms among normals. Allie's friend and fellow Hound, Davy Silvers is bitten and infected by one, and a great deal of the time in this story is spent dealing with his illness, while trying to understand how it is spreading and how it may be stopped.

Allie is still possessed by her dad's ghost, but they seem to have worked their way to an uneasy yet handy alliance - he always seems to come up with some magical tidbit or contact she needs when the going gets rough. Allie, herself, becomes violently ill whenever she works any significant magic, though for some reason she really doesn't do a lot of investigation into why that might be. Stone, the gargoyle, also seems to be stricken with an odd malady, but Allie isn't all that curious about that situation, either. I think Monk was just overwhelmed with all the necessary plot elements to move the story in the direction it's going, and didn't have enough room in the paperback format to deal with all of it in Magic on the Line. The way the book winds things up makes it obvious that resolution on these and other issues will take some time.

Allie and her friends must rebel against the authority of the new Authority in order to save the city from the plague and malicious magic. We've seen this coming for a while now, as the old ways of doing business were getting a bit raveled around the edges. For the preternatural branch of the police to deal with some of the new threats, they're going to need to know more about magic than they've been allowed, and for Allie's Hounds to help her avoid getting killed, she's going to have to clue them in on reality, plus she's going to have to stop keeping secrets from her best friend, Nola, or lose that relationship. Change is in the wind.

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