by Terrance V. Mc Arthur
Details on how to win a copy of Magic Without Mercy at the end of this review.
Magic Without Mercy, the eighth in Devon Monk’s Allie Beckworth series of urban fantasies set in Portland, Oregon, combines paranormal action, paranoid reality (they really are out to get you), romance, magic, and mayhem (Or is that mayhem and magic? Magical mayhem? Mayhemical magic?).
Allie can’t use magic without getting sick, her dead father is in her head (giving her advice that may help his own purposes more than the situation at hand), the city’s wells of magic are poisoned, and undead magic users are making people sick all over town. In the last book (Magic on the Line) Allie had to kill the leader of the Authority that ran magic in Portland, and now the clownishly-named Jingo Jingo is in charge, trying to track down Allie and her small band of renegades. Even the police are after Allie.
One of the interesting features of the Beckworth series is the concept that magic has a price and penalty for its use. It might be a temporary headache, or it might be in the form of a serpent that wraps around you and sinks its fangs into your neck. There are also Soul Complements, two magical persons whose spirits are so opposite that they mesh perfectly, creating a more powerful magic that has curious qualities for the casters which border on the sexual.
Devon’s writing has warmth, humor, and power, creating a magical society that interacts with the real world. This is not a last-in-the-series book, and suffers from some of the hammock qualities of in-between novels, so the climactic battle does not resolve all the problems. In fact, it sets up a higher-stakes, magical Armageddon for the characters in the next installment (Magic for a Price due in November). Because of Allie’s current magical allergy, she can’t rely on her powers of tracking magic, and she has to work with others to solve puzzles that face her and to survive combat. It makes her more…human. The bickering, the loving, the mistrust, and the sacrifices are all more real because of the imperfectness of the characters. They have to stand together, because that’s the way people—and ghosts and gargoyles and undead daddies—get along in this world, magical or not.
To enter to win a copy of Magic Without Mercy, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Mercy”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 18, 2012. U.S. residents only.