Pros: Love some of the new characters and plots
Cons: Make sure you’re reading the series in order now; Allie is TOO pig-headed, and kind of dumb sometimes
Rating: 3 out of 5
NOTE: Devon Monk’s Magic in the Shadows is book three of the Allie Beckstrom series. It’s a series with a very strong plot arc, so make sure you read it in order. Also, it will be impossible to avoid giving away details or hints about previous books in this review, so be warned. Check out our reviews of book one (Magic to the Bone) and book two (Magic in the Blood) first.
Allie Beckstrom is a Hound—she traces illegal magic use back to the caster for a fee, using her abnormally heightened senses as well as her own magic abilities. Unlike most magic users, however, she can carry magic in her body rather than always having to channel it from the stores beneath the city. She’s also the daughter of one of the most powerful magic users: inventor of many items that fuse technology and magic, and a high-ranking member of the Authority, a secret body of magic users governing how much ordinary mortals are allowed to know. Now that her father is dead and she knows about the Authority, they plan to see whether she can control the massive powers she can channel—and if not, they’ll Close her life, leaving her with no knowledge of or ability to use magic.
Of course, that alone would be too easy. There’s a horrific creature called a Necromorph stalking Allie, and one of the Hounds she’s agreed to protect has gotten in over her head with dark magics. There are creatures called Hungers pouring through gates to attack the city. and to top everything off, Zayvion’s ex-girlfriend, Chase, hates Allie—which might not be so bad if she wasn’t so deadly in her own right.
Magic in the Shadows introduces some fantastic new characters to the series. Shamus is by far my favorite—he’s a smart-ass guy who looks like your stereotypical goth kid, but that unimpressive exterior hides an incredible amount of will, skill, and talent. Allie gains an unusual and delightful companion/protector; while it’s easy to see coming, I loved the idea so much that I didn’t mind at all. Shamus’s mother, Maeve, displays a fantastic combination of deadly strength, calm authority, and motherly caring.
Here’s the problem, however. I’m all for lead characters who have flaws. Those flaws, however, cannot be so overblown that they make the character unlikable, nor can they go on for books and books without any learning curve/improvement whatsoever, particularly when they have repeatedly put people in danger. I get that Allie is overly stubborn and that this causes her to sometimes do stupid things; hell, I can relate. I even get that it’s a great way to connect her and her estranged father, who has similar issues. However, I can’t buy into the idea that we’re already in the third book and she still can’t listen to people to save her life—or theirs. There are multiple occasions where she nearly gets people killed because she insists on getting involved in situations that she doesn’t understand and for which she should be able to trust these people to do their jobs.
She should be learning from this and slowly improving, even if it’s by fits and starts. She should be seriously losing friends since she isn’t learning. She certainly shouldn’t whine about other people not trusting her to know what she’s doing or handle herself, since she doesn’t treat anyone else that way. I became entirely too frustrated with Allie in this installment; luckily I enjoyed the other characters enough, and was curious enough about the world and ongoing storyline, to want to continue the series anyway.
There are also some spots where Allie fails to pass on important information, or notices something important and then ignores it. It resulted in some facepalm moments where it was obvious to me that someone was a bad guy, but it’s clear the good guys aren’t going to put two and two together for a while yet. Argh!
I’m still continuing onward; I’m invested, and the world-building is fabulous. But I look forward to improvement.