Over at the RRRC group on Goodreads the 4th Reading Tournament has just begun. Run by the amazing D.G. this tournament is a version of snakes and ladders were players roll a dice, move to a square and have to select a book from the particular shelf in goodreads. First one to square 144 wins…
A different take on magic, a (realistically) strong heroine, hints of a larger and intriguing plot line, fantastic use of the amnesia plot device
Quote that best sums up the lead (female) character:
It was strange to have my entire life, or at least the important bits I didn’t want to forget, recorded by hand and backed up electronically. It made sense to do it for the jobs I Hounded, but sometimes when going through the book I ran across a detail, like ‘‘always take the right trail in the park’’ or ‘‘parrots don’t work’’ that were obviously personal experiences I no longer retained.
Sometimes I felt like a ghost in my own life.
There’s so much urban fiction out there that it really takes something special to stand out from the crowd. For me Magic to the Bone is one of those books. I didn’t think so at first, but as the book went on and the plotline(s) developed I grew more and more interested in the world Devon Monk has created. There’s solid world building, detailed enough to give a good background to the book and yet retaining areas of mystery (an essential quality in a first-in-series book). And there’s a strong heroine who isn’t perfect and doesn’t know what’s going on most of the time but is determined to just get through life the best way she knows how.
The strong characterisation extends to the secondary characters as well. There’s a hero (of course) and one who has an obviously interesting back story that we have yet to hear about but that we didn’t get hit over the head with all the time and a refreshingly normal non-magical best friend. The heroine’s difficult relationship with her father is a complicated mix of dis-trust and hope that is refreshingly real in a world of where magic not only exists but is in fact big business.
However it is the use of the amnesia plot that makes this book special. In the Allie Beckstrom world the use of magic takes a physical toll. The toll of using magic and be painful and long-lasting. There’s bruising, illness, migraines, insomnia and, in Allie’s case, amnesia. The amnesia plot device is rarely used to great effect. Most authors use it to drive relationship re-building or fish-out-of-water plots. Devon Monk however has used it so effectively that it makes me wonder if she knows someone with Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t make Allie weaker as a heroine in fact it’s one of the character attributes that makes her so strong. Not remember parts of your past should be scary and for many, it has the effect of shutting them down emotionally and physically. The fact however is that Allie doesn’t have that choice and so tackles it with grit and determination.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the narration of this book, some areas came across as stilted and awkward. The book’s pacing however really suited the audiobook format so hopefully the narration will get better as the series progresses.