People ask me how I do it, and I say, “There’s nothing to it: You just stand there looking cute; and when something moves, you shoot!” Well, that quality of hunting skill is pretty representative of the level of competence on display in this book. Let’s go shoot ourselves a pure-bred Guernsey cow with Magic on the Hunt, by Devon Monk.
In the secret lockup of the Authority, the council that decides what can and can’t be done with magic, an undead magic user has possessed one of the prisoners. He wants his freedom-and then some. Now Allie Beckstrom and her lover, Zayvion, are the first line of defense against the chaos he’s about to unleash on the city of Portland…
Welcome back to the wonderful world of Allie Beckstrom. This novel begins with one of the villains, Dane Lanister, bursting into Allie’s apartment, knocking out Zayvion, and shooting Allie twice – in non-lethal locations, of course. Even though he has her dead to rights, could totally put a bullet through her head at any time, and indeed states that it is his desire and intention to do so, the conventions of the genre dictate that he bluster and posture and exposit about his evil plan until Allie’s ghost dad is able to come up with a way to turn the situation around. Seriously, he practically reaches Dr. Evil levels of supervillain self-parody, monologuing to Allie about how the smart thing to would be to kill her rather than stand around monologuing at her:
“You are a problem. And the easiest way to get rid of a problem is to kill it. Simple, efficient, gone. A gun to the back of the head, a knife through the spine, magic to boil your blood, crush your skull, stop your heart. The kind of death we gave your father, Greyson and I. The kind of death I will give you.”
– Dane Lanister, Chapter One
Now, I know what you’re going to say: it’s not Dane’s fault. Even though he wanted to kill Allie as quickly as possible, he couldn’t do it immediately; he needed to question her as to where Sedra was being imprisoned. Oh, dear kind-hearted reader, you give the book too much credit. For you see, Allie doesn’t end up telling him anything about where Sedra is imprisoned. And yet, Dane later manages to find the location all on his own, proving he never needed to question Allie in the first place. He could have just shot her in the head and been done with it. The real reason he didn’t is because Allie is the protagonist and this is still the first chapter of the book, meaning she is cocooned within impenetrable plot armor.
Well, after that shocking, action-packed first chapter where the villains broke into Allie’s own home, you’re no doubt thinking that this book is going to be an extremely fast-paced roller-coaster ride of one intense high-stakes fight scene after another. Lol, nope. First chapter aside, the first half of the book is dedicated to characters finding out thing which we, the reader, already know. For instance, Nola discovers Stone, Allie’s Gargoyle companion. A shock for Nola, to be sure, but we’ve already known about Stone for the past couple of novels. As another example: the Authority learns that Jingo Jingo is a serial killer who murders children and enslaves their ghosts to add to his magical power. And while they are all disturbed by this revelation, we the readers already knew it: it was pretty clear what Jingo Jingo was doing back when Allie saw him surrounded by the souls of dead children bound to him by chains. The characters also spend a lot of time discussing how a ton of weird magical stuff seems to have been going down in the St. Johns area, despite it not being connected to the magical grid; so we lucky readers, who remember from the first book that there is a secret reserve of natural magic beneath the area, get to watch them bumble around in the dark about this. They still haven’t figured it out by the end, so we can look forward to their ignorance continuing to be a plot point in future books – oh joy. And then there’s Stotts; since he recently had his memories of the Authority Closed, Allie has to re-explain everything to him – “everything” also being the amount of this stuff that we, the readers, already know.
Which is to say: BOOOOOORING! Get to the interesting stuff already!
It’s only halfway through the book, when the shade of Leander starts trying to steal a human body and sets off a prison break at the Authority’s super-special-double-secret prison, that the action actually starts to pick back up again. Say it with me, everyone: if the plot gets good halfway through the book, that’s half a book too late. The revelations which follow are fairly predictable: it looked like Sedra was the good guy and Mikhail was the bad guy; but Sedra is possessed by Isabelle, meaning Mikhail was actually the good guy all along! Except, you know, serial child-murderer Jingo Jingo was working for Mikhail, so clearly he’s not all that good. Big fight scene, Leander and Isabelle retreat but vow that they’ll be back, roll credits.
Let’s see, anything else to say about this book? Well, Cody Hand, nee Miller, returns as a character; but not as a POV character this time. It was his POV sections in the first book which made his character interesting to me; without that, just seeing him from Allie’s POV isn’t nearly as interesting. So, his return for this novel just isn’t recapturing any of the special qualities that made me like him so much in his first appearance. Sorry, kid; nice try, but not even you can save this mess.
Final Rating: 2/5