Stone Cold: A duology ends with a bang

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsStone Cold by Devon Monk urban fantasy book reviewsStone Cold by Devon Monk

Stone Cold is the second book in a spinoff series by Monk (from her ALLIE BECKSTROM series/world). I have to admit, the first book in this BROKEN MAGIC series, Hell Bent, actually hooked me so hard it made me give the ALLIE BECKSTROM books a try, which I also enjoyed so much I am having a hard time making myself finish the series (which is the best compliment this bookworm can ever give any series).

BROKEN MAGIC is a two part spinoff series, and Stone Cold ends impressively. This is important for readers because it gives a nice, round conclusion for both Shame, and Allie, in her own way. It’s nice to have a definitive ending to things, and what an ending this is. That being said, the journey to get to said conclusion is filled with emotional ups and downs, and plenty of tension.

Shame is a character that has really grown on me, not just because of his biting sarcasm and his don’t-give-a-shit attitude, which I absolutely love. The thing that really got me about this series, and about Shame himself, is how well Monk created the magic that he uses. It is so important for authors to balance their magic system with equal “good” points and “bad” points, and it is rare that I see it as well done in urban fantasy as I have seen Monk manage. The thing is, the magic is so much more than something that Shame uses, it actually uses him, and that’s never clearer than in this book. The tug-and-pull relationship between Shame and his magic is absolutely emotionally jarring, and will keep readers on the edge of their seats and plenty fascinated at the same time.

The plot moves quickly. In fact, Stone Cold moves so quickly you’ll probably finish this book before you really want to. The events move toward one impressive conclusion, and I sincerely hope that Monk revisits this world. I want to know more. I want to see what happens next. That being said, I can also see how this could be a nice ending point for the world in general. There’s a huge BANG at the end, but it leaves everything nicely tied so Monk can easily go onto new worlds and projects. I’m not sure I’d want a series that goes on and on. I feel like, after a while, the powerful story that Shame and Terric tell would be too watered down. Two books might be painful to readers who are fans of Monk’s world (they will inevitably want more; I want more) but sometimes it is nice to see an author go in, gut-punch the readers, and get out fast.

This duology, and indeed Monk’s writing in general, has taught me how absolutely wonderful urban fantasy can be. Shame is one of the most tortured, emotionally jarring characters I have read in urban fantasy, but it is balanced nicely by the characters that move through the events with him. His counterpoint, and in many ways, his “balance” of sorts, Terric, is also a fascinating character, and the two play off of each other really well, but the intense emotions that thread right under the novel’s surface that really got me. So much happens in Stone Cold, and so much is left unsaid. It is very powerfully written, and made an incredible impression on me.

Honestly, the world that Monk has created and her writing style, coupled with her complex characters and a magic system that is equal parts beneficial and negative, really makes her the author that has set the bar for all other urban fantasy authors in my mind. Check the BROKEN MAGIC series out. Stone Cold is a powerful conclusion to a series that has really affected me in ways I truly didn’t expect.

Broken Magic (Shame & Terric)  — (2013-2014) A spin-off from Allie Beckstrom. From Shame’s perspective. Instead of the deadly force it once was, magic is now a useless novelty. But not for Shame Flynn and Terric Conley, “breakers” who have the gift for reverting magic back to its full-throttle power. In the magic-dense city of Portland, Oregon, keeping a low profile means keeping their gifts quiet. After three years of dealing with disgruntled magic users, Shame and Terric have had enough of politics, petty magic, and, frankly, each other. It’s time to call it quits. When the government discovers the breakers’ secret—and its potential as a weapon—Shame and Terric suddenly become wanted men, the only ones who can stop the deadly gift from landing in the wrong hands. If only a pair of those wrong hands didn’t belong to a drop-dead-gorgeous assassin Shame is falling for as if it were the end of the world. And if he gets too close to her, it very well could be….

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SARAH CHORN, one of our regular guest reviewers, has been a compulsive reader her whole life, and early on found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a published photographer, world traveler and recent college graduate and mother. Sarah keeps a blog at Bookworm Blues.

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