After reading the previous Allie Beckstrom book by Devon Monk, Magic in the Shadows, I knew I had to keep up with the series, so picking up Magic on the Storm was a no-brainer. Unlike the earlier book, this one actually ends on a cliffhanger, but I didn’t mind at all. Monk’s writing is great and her story quite gripping.
After two months of relative peace, things are about to get a lot harder for Allison Beckstrom, She’s now part of the Authority, the organization of magic-users who rule how magic is used throughout the world so as to keep the extent of it hidden from the populace (though magic itself is quite common). Allie’s been training for two months even as she keeps at her job as the leader of a group of Hounds, who hunt down illegal magic-users. Now a magical storm is brewing, one of such intensity that it could destroy Portland if the Authority doesn’t band together and stop it. Too bad that the Authority is starting to splinter into rival factions. Sounds like this would be the perfect time for somebody to strike. Having Allie’s dead father reside in her head doesn’t make things any easier.
I felt a lot more grounded reading Magic on the Storm than I did the previous book, probably because this wasn’t my first. It helps to have a bit of historical knowledge in any series; I didn’t feel like a newbie this time around. While Monk makes these books accessible to new readers, parceling out just enough information about prior events that the reader doesn’t feel lost, it feels a lot better to know exactly what she’s talking about at any given time. The lack of emotional investment in prior events for new readers is probably still there, but there’s no getting around that in a series this tight. At least you know what happened, even if you don’t feel the importance.
Monk’s character work remains strong. Allie is sarcastic, always trying to do the best she can with what she’s given and extremely frustrated when both her lover Zayvion and the rest of the Authority try to keep her out of things to keep her “safe.” She also has a tendency to attract really bad things (though Monk does overuse classic “what else could go wrong?” writing, where the character says something like to that effect - and, of course, things do get worse). She’s driven to move beyond her limitations if she can, no matter how much others want to protect her.
The other characters are also extremely well done. Zayvion Jones more interesting here than in the last book, Shame is still his sarcastic yet caring self, cynical beyond belief but with a heart of gold, especially where Allie is concerned. He becomes even more interesting when Terric shows up, a man with whom Shame has some bad history. The members of the Authority also spring to life, at least to an extent. This is a good thing, since it helps create the tension that simmers beneath the Authority, waiting to explode.
Yes, the first part of the book is a bit slow as Zayvion and Allie explore their relationship and the book gets ready for the big events to come. The constant “I will do anything to get you out of my head” banter with her father gets old, too, but overall, Magic on the Storm is a strong entry in the series. It doesn’t feel like a transition novel, unlike the previous book. Things happen, earth-shattering events (or at least Authority-shattering) that will have a great effect on subsequent novels, all told in that wonderful Monk style.
While I would still say you should start at the beginning of the series, Magic on the Storm rewards even new readers with a great story and characters to keep you turning the page without stopping from beginning to end.