“All I had wanted was a frickin’ cup of coffee. Couldn’t a girl go downtown without having to deal with undead mutated murderers on the way?”
When that girl is Allie Beckstrom… no. As Magic in the Shadows begins, Allie is hoping for a nice, normal date with her boyfriend Zayvion. Unfortunately, her father’s ghost has taken up residence in her head, and then there’s that grisly crime scene she and Zayvion find on the way to the restaurant…
Things only get more complicated from there. And, fortunately, this time we don’t have to suffer as much vicarious pain as we follow Allie through her adventures. There’s a lot less focus on the physical after-effects of magic in Magic in the Shadows than there is in the two previous books, and there’s no amnesia. In fact, Allie learns a chilling fact that just might explain why her magic use has so often resulted in memory loss. I think this trend (away from the focus on physical pain) will continue, since Allie is learning to control her magic and planning to enroll in good old-fashioned non-magical self-defense lessons.
Magic in the Shadows, like previous installments, incorporates several important plotlines. There’s the paternal possession issue and the aforementioned mutated murderer, along with Allie’s encounters with the Authority and developments in her relationship with Zayvion. Some of these plots are resolved here, and some promise to return in forthcoming books. Magic in the Shadows also provides a lot of character development for Allie, Zayvion, and Allie’s father, Daniel Beckstrom. You know you have a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship when being possessed by Dad’s ghost actually improves your rapport!
Devon Monk fills out Allie’s world with plenty of delightful secondary characters. Zayvion’s friend Shamus is lots of fun, and then there’s Stone the gargoyle. I want one! In addition, we see more of Nola, Detective Paul Stotts, Davy Silvers, and others.
I do wish Allie had taken Tomi’s threats more seriously and passed on a stronger warning to Davy. Davy, being stubborn, would probably have taken the same actions anyway. So, Allie comes off as a little unnecessarily clueless in this one scene.
Overall, Magic in the Shadows was enjoyable. I found it superior to Magic in the Blood, and roughly tied with Magic to the Bone. There’s a lot of set-up here, but it’s interesting enough that I didn’t mind. Monk now has plenty of plot hooks to explore in future books. Best of all, Allie is developing into a character who is more able to withstand the trouble that lies ahead. I recommend the Allison Beckstrom series to urban fantasy fans who want something fresh and original, with a snarky sense of humor.
Allie Beckstrom — (2008-2013) Publisher: Using magic means it uses you back — and every spell exacts a price from the user. Some people, however, get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent, then Allison Beckstrom’s job is 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 she is thrown back into the world of his black magic.