Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review: Magic on the Hunt by Devon Monk

Allie Beckstrom is back, ready to fight against magical evil and I, for one, was… underwhelmed. Too be honest,  I am getting tired of this series, which is a shame 'cause the first book had so much promise.

Magic on the Hunt picks up shortly after the previous book, Magic at the Gate.  Allie and Zayvion have just spent the last three days in bed, ahem, reaffirming their relationship.  That’s pretty damn good considering Zay only came out of a coma four days ago.  I guess nothing says hot sexy time like waking up from a coma.  (Which is weird ‘cause when my mom woke up from her coma, all she wanted was a cigarette.)  Anyway, their fun is interrupted by rogue Authority member, Dane, looking for information from Allie’s father.  (You remember Allie’s dad, right?  The dude who has taken up a post-death vacation share in Allie’s body?)  What follows is a major ass kicking by Dane and his minions in order to force Allie’s dad to reveal the whereabouts of JingoJingo, who has kidnapped the local Authority leader, Sedra.  Zay gets the crap beaten out of him, Allie is shot twice, and things are looking pretty dire.  Luckily, Allie has her own personal deus ex machina, aka her dad; he bangs out some super spell stuff and the bad guys are forced to flee.  Meanwhile, the shadowy Leander has made it topside and is looking for a body to inhabit so that he can unleash a shitload of crazy on the world because... he’s bonkers and -as we have learned from comic books- the insane are all about world domination. Everyone is still vying for possession of the magic discs created by Allie’s father and everything seems very important, with folks disregarding orders left and right - because dammit, there’s a madman running loose!  This is no time for rules! - and I am like, wtf is going on again?  And do I care?

So, I'm gonna be a whiny complainer about this book.
Mostly because what started out so uniquely promising has become almost ordinary within the urban fantasy genre.  The elements that made this series different have taken a backseat to the same old same old – y’know, mysterious, magical group fighting against magical villains bent on uber-evil. Been there done that.  Hey!  What about the Hounds? I want more Hounds.  The Hounds are awesome.  A group of misfits with the ability to bloodhound a spell back to its origin.  How cool is that?  The Hound mythos was one of the things that drew me to this series.  The Hounds are not your average citizens, they are outsiders with a unique skill that takes a physical toll.  Most of them self-medicate and addiction is not uncommon.  At this point in the series, through Allie’s efforts, the Hounds have morphed from lone wolves into a community.  I wanted to spend time with this group. I wanted to see this group in action.  I wanted some payoff.  Instead, the Hounds have become Allie’s Baker Street Irregulars, glorified errand boys, who spend most of their time in the background or off-page.

Another thing I dig about this series is that using magic comes with a painful physical price, from hangover size to serious illness... but our heroes sure recover awfully quick from using magic.  It doesn’t seem like the price they pay is very high.  Our heroes speedy recoveries extend to damage sustained during physical fights as well.  Being shot twice in the first chapter doesn’t slow Allie down.  Zayvion is running around town with broken ribs, kicking evil-doer ass, no problem.  Then again, this is the dude who was getting his groove on the day after he came out of a coma. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Speaking of Zayvion, am I the only one who finds him to be a big old beefcake bore?  When we first met the character, he was an intriguing, sexy, man of mystery.  I was looking forward to Monk exploring his hidden depths.  Turns out he doesn’t have any.  He’s either zen-calm or intense, with an occasional dash of Billy Dee Williams.  He’s a flat character and I have lost interest.  

Then there is Allie's relationship with her dad which is Fucked up. The dude has done so many uncool things to her, including Closing her, which is to say removing parts of her memory:
 "Your father Closed you many times.  Used you. He's been taking your memories away since the accident when you were five years old."
A high ringing started in my ears; my heartbeat thrummed behind it.  I was breathing too fast.   I didn't know if I was angry, panicked, or about to be sick.  I didn't remember an accident.  I didn't remember my dad Closing me.

Not only did he erase her memories but in doing so, he created a pathway that allowed him to possess her. (Am I the only one who gets squicked during the love scenes, knowing that Allie is possessed by her father?  Yuck.  I couldn’t even make out in front of my dad, let alone fuck someone while my dad is possessing me.) 

Now, don’t get me wrong, Allie has ever right to be angry at and even hate her dad, but I'm ready for some kind of resolution. Whether she makes her peace with him or makes her peace with hating him, I am ready for there to be some forward motion in this relationship.  In fact, I think that is part of my problem with this series.  I want it to move forward character-wise and story-wise. Instead, I feel like we are treading in place.  The whole Leannder storyline feels tacked on and a distraction from the important story - what the hell is Allie's dad up to and who was he working with?  This is book six of the series.  We should be further along in terms of the long term story arc.  Instead this series is spending time on psychos I could not care less about.

Magic on the Hunt drove me a little crazy.  What I got in this story, I wasn't interested in and the things I wanted to know more about, stayed in the background. There are two more books contracted in this series so I’ll stick it out and hope for a resolution.  But if it turns out that the series is opened ended, I’m done. 
Grade: C

* I received Magic on the Hunt via

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