Review: Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk ★★★

Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk
Genre: Urban Fantasy (Alternate history, magic, spell casting, mystery, romantic elements)
Series: Book one in The Allie Beckstrom series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Roc
Country: United States of America
Publication Date: November 4, 2008
ISBN: 978-0451462404
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★


Devon Monk is casting a spell on the fantasy world...

Using magic means it uses you back, and every spell exacts a price from its user. But some people get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent. Then it’s Allison Beckstrom’s job to identify the spell-caster. Allie would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence than accept the family fortune—and the strings that come with it. But when she finds a boy dying from a magical Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into his world of black magic. And the forces she calls on in her quest for the truth will make her capable of things that some will do anything to control...


This was an okay start to a series. It definitely shows some potential but it has some quite major issues as well. For me, the problem with this one so far seems to be the characterization, or rather, the lack thereof.

Think about all of your favourite Urban Fantasy heroines. Add up all the brilliant things you love about them: their humour, their sarcastic wit, their strength of will, their fighting abilities, their sheer badassness. Whatever it is you love about them, add it all up. Have you done it? Good. Now take all that away and you'll be left with Allie Beckstrom.

Harsh? Maybe. True? That's for you to decide for yourself, I suppose.

I can, however, see potential for her to grow as a character, so it's not all doom and gloom. There has to be somewhere for your character to go. If they start out all shiny and awesome, there's no journey, and I totally get that. But, it's literally like the only interesting thing about Allie Beckstrom, is that she is not interesting in any way. She's just a regular girl. Daughter of a rich, powerful man, trying to make a go of things on her own in the big, wide, magic-filled world, and avoiding her father as much as possible. She seems to be doing this through sheer, childish stubbornness rather than because her father did anything particularly heinous. Okay, he used "Influence" to try and get her to go to the college of his choice. This is hardly the crime of the century now is it?

So you can safely add "stubborn" to her list of attributes. You can also add "Too Stupid To Live". Yup, we had a definite TSTL moment in this book. With consequences that will reach well into the next book and probably beyond. Good going, Allie!

There's also a love interest of sorts that was introduced. Now, I'm a bit confused here because I have this theory about a possible future plot that may explain my total lack of connection with this character. If that theory pans out in future books I will totally come back and eat all of these words because it will actually be really quite clever, but for the moment I can only comment on what I experienced in this book, and that was that I didn't understand how they ended up together. At all. He was kind of stalking her at the beginning of the book, he dresses like a "drifter", she tells him to go away and he won't, and then, whoops! She kisses him!

*insert nonplussed face here*

Looking at the positives now, the world-building and the actual plot I did enjoy. The idea of using magical glyphs to cast spells in the air with your hands was interesting. As was the idea that the common masses can all now draw on magic, which is fed into the city like electricity. I also liked learning about the different types of magical specialities people have developed since magic was introduced about thirty years back.

The hunt for the bad guy was fairly well written. There were just a couple instances where I was confused by the actions and decisions of one of the main characters. I found the small passages from Cody's point of view a good way of giving you a glimpse at the actions of the bad guy, without actually telling you any details.

Overall, it's a middle of the road 3 stars rating. I was intrigued enough by the events at the end of the book to pick up the next one straight away. I really hope to see an improvement with these characters and some much needed growth in the next book(s) to give me that connection that I'm currently missing and that's preventing me from truly being able to enjoy the story.

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