I’ve recently started reading this series of books called the Allie Beckstrom novels, by Devon Monk. Currently there are nine books and I’m not sure if a tenth is coming out or not. I’ve finished the first three books and since I’ll be going overseas for three weeks, I can’t take the remaining books with me. I don’t want to lose them.
WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD
The whole series is based on magic being an energy resource for anyone to use, as opposed to an ability only some people possess. Magic is shaped by glyphs drawn in the air by the castor and that determines how the magic will manifest itself. However, there is a price to pay: pain. The more magic you use, the more pain you have to take. Setting a Disbursement spell allows the castor to control when and how the pain will manifest; a headache, muscle ache, etc. The more magic you use, the longer the pain will last.
Allison “Allie” Beckstrom is the protagonist here. She’s a Hound, a sort of detective that uses magic. She’s able to trace spells back to their castors by reading the spell’s signature. How these signatures look like isn’t explained much, but I imagine that it looks like handwriting. Two people can draw the same glyph but it would appear differently, just like different people have different styles of handwriting. The term “Hound” literally references dog or wolf-like abilities. Even without magic enhancing her senses, Allie has acute hearing and a very good sense of smell. Smells are part of the castors signature as well and each person has a different smell.
In book four, I learnt that different types of magic have different smells as well. Also, perhaps not defining what glyphs look like keeps the design space open for Monk to explore. Good move.
For Allie, sometimes the price of the magic she uses takes away parts of her memory, when she forgets to set Disbursements. This is kinda annoying because she has to recount what happened and I feel it’s pretty repetitive.
After reading three books, I get the impression that the series is completely continuous, making each book seem like chapters in a big story, rather than individual stories themselves. Usually when a novel series is named after a character, I tend to take it as many different stories that don’t reference each other but just happen to have the same character. Like Hercule Poirot in the Agatha Chistie mystery novels. But this series makes a lot of references to the past novels. I feel the story is a little too detailed and slow paced. But then since it’s all part of one big story, it’s understandable. The books are also just the right physical size to carry around.
Monk does a really good job of setting up many unanswered questions to be answered in future books. I would think it would be a little confusing if someone started reading from one of the middle books though. There’s also no official list or indication of the book order within any of the books, so it’s a little confusing to sort out.
I like the story and the concept of magic being a resource you have to pay to use, but I don’t really like Allie. I have a thing for women who save the world and she does it several times, but she’s really too stubborn for a own good. That stubbornness sometimes aggravates a situation even further.
These are young adult novels and there are erotic scenes and some vulgarities. I’d have appreciated little to no vulgarities because I think it’s crass, but that’s just me. At least Monk doesn’t overuse it. Her style of writing is slightly informal and I think that’s great for a YA series.
At the time of writing this post, I was almost done with book four, but I had to return books four to seven to the library before I could finish reading them. Ah well, I’ll borrow them again when I return to Singapore and maybe do another review once I read the last book.