Magic at the Gate

 
Magic on the Hunt
by Devon Monk
(Roc, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-451-46391-3
****
Picking up a mere three days after the final scene of Magic at the Gate, Magic on the Hunt opens with yet another attempt on Allie Beckstrom's life – this time by the bodyguard of the head of the Authority.

The attack – just as Allie and Zay are finally climbing out of bed, really throws Zay, who ends up unconscious, into an angry tantrum. This is the first time readers have seen such an attitude out of Mr. Zen, as Allie likes to call him. Allie's in a bit of a snit herself; she's getting damned tired of people trying to kill her. Even more sick of how many near-misses are adding up. The pair is called to one of many meetings of Seattle's branch of the Authority, and it's decided to put Allie through a procedure to remove her deceased father's spirit from her mind.

Allie's been trying to convince them that Daniel Beckstrom was in there, chatting with her and generally bossing her around, since he was murdered – by the same man, Dane Lanister, who had attacked her that very morning. Now, after Daniel led her through Death in the last book, they finally believe her.

Zayvion's best friend, the Death magic user Shamus (yummy!) manages to wrangle Daniel into a spell that puts him under Allie's control, but it turns out that her father has dug so many niche's into her psyche that there's no way yet to remove him without killing her. Daniel's insight leads Allie to a device that can track down the Authority's kidnapped leader, Sedra.

Unfortunately for the entire magical region, Sedra's managed to either escape or has been re-kidnapped. Her last kidnapper, the traitorous Death magic teacher Jingo Jingo, lies boiling in his own body fluids. The scene leads to police and Allie being the go-between for the oh-so-secret authority and her bullheaded cop friend Paul Stotts. Fed up with the authorities and the Authority, Allie calls in her Hounds —magic users who professionally track spells and other magic users.

When her uber-conservative (not that you could tell by his attitude or his raggedy clothes) boyfriend allows Shamus to convince him to go rogue from the Authority, Allie's pretty sure all hell's about to break loose. When her father is the one with the valuable honest information, that becomes a fact — and tracking down the spirit of a man escaped from Death itself may very well be the end to not only Allie's merry band of magic users, but for humanity at large.

I don't know why I expect tie-up-the-loose-strings ending from Monk; Magic on the Hunt is just as much a cliffhanger as all of the other novels in the Allie Beckstrom series, and just as fantastic. Magic on the Hunt, like its predecessors, will drag readers in by their hair and keep hold of them even after they read the last sentence. The pace is non-stop and the delivery is dead-on. A big win in the Devon Monk column.

--Sarrah Knight


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