Magic for a Price by Devon Monk

Magic for a Price: An Allie Beckstrom Novel

Here it is, the end of the Allie Beckstrom series.  I’m sad to see it go.  For the past few years I’ve followed Allie and her friends and allies with great interest.  Magic for a Price wraps up the last dangling plot threads and delivers an explosive finish.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“For most of her life, Allison Beckstrom has used magic and accepted the heavy price it exacts. But now that all magic is poisoned, it’s no longer just using people—it’s killing them.

With Portland about to descend into chaos, Allie needs to find a way to purify the wells of tainted magic beneath the city. But the only options left to her are grim: attempt to close down magic forever, or follow her father’s plan to set magic into the right hands—even though she’s learned to never trust his word.

Now, Allie will have to make a choice and face the darkness of her own deepest fears, before time runs out for them all…”

I have some mixed feelings about this book.  One the good side, it was nice to see all of the characters that we’ve come to know over the course of the series come together in a final story.  In particular, I was glad to see Cody (the rogue magic user from early in the series) and Nora (Allie’s best friend) getting a part in the tale.  Nora was a much bigger part of Allie’s life before, and I missed her when events took Allie away from her.

That actually brings up something that I miss from earlier books: Allie’s memory loss from magic use.  That was one of the things that I originally liked about the premise, because it seemed like an element that could lead to a host of interesting stories.  At one point in this book, Allie finds her old notebook and suddenly starts writing in it again, and I thought “Oh yeah, we haven’t seen that for a while.”  It was actually a little jarring to have that pop up again at a random moment.

The main focus on this final novel is the confrontation with Leander and Isabelle, the Soul Complements who are trying to cheat death and take over all magic.  These two, while certainly pulling strings in previous books, haven’t been present all that much; as a result, I wasn’t as invested in the fight with them as I was in the last book’s confrontation with Jingo Jingo.  Think of it this way: In Lord of the Rings, I would argue that you’re less invested in Sauron’s downfall and more invested in the destruction of the One Ring, even though they amount to the same thing.  This principle applies here: while taking down Leander and Isabelle is the ultimate goal, seeing their helpers destroyed is more satisfying because they are the ones we’ve been watching more (in much the same way that we watch Frodo carrying the Ring).  So while the final battle was good, I wasn’t as emotionally invested in it as I was in the downfall of Jingo.

I also felt that there were some aspects that got a little repetitive: Shame and Terric waffling on their Soul Complement bond; Allie never getting a moment to rest and having to keep going no matter what; running around to the local magic wells to do arcane things.  They all make sense within the plot structure, but a lot of this is stuff that we’ve seen just recently in the past couple of books.  This may be amplified for me, since I read the final two books in the series back to back, so I can’t say for sure that this is a flaw.

However, the series certainly ends with a bang.  There’s no shortage of action, and as mentioned earlier, most everybody from the series shows up at one point or another.  There are secrets revealed about Allie’s past as well as her father’s.  In fact, that was my favorite part of the book, because some questions about Allie’s childhood are finally answered.

Armchair editor that I am (and isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?), I would probably have condensed much of the final three books in the series into one blockbuster, knock-your-socks-off showdown with all the forces of evil.  Even so, I did like Magic for a Price.  It’s a pretty good end to a strong urban fantasy series.  I’ve heard hints that there will be another series set in this world, so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for that!

Also by this author: Dead Iron, Magic at the Gate, Magic on the Hunt, Magic on the Line, Magic Without Mercy, Tin Swift

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on December 6, 2012.

Series: Allie Beckstrom
ISBN: 9780451464866
Publisher: Roc
Page Count: 368
Publication Date: November 6, 2012
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Author Website
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