One upside to being snowed in for almost a week is that I've had the opportunity to catch up on some of my reading. My latest read comes from Portland author Devon Monk.
Magic to the Bone uses Portland (especially St. Johns) as the backdrop for a story of magic and mystery. Magic "hounder "(essentially a magic detective) Allie is in over her head. Allie's use of magic continues to have strong side effects including acute memory loss, which is not helpful when she's hot on the trail of a magical murder. Soon Allie gets caught up in the very case she's investigating with a conspiracy that reaches far deeper than she'd ever imagined.
Magic to the Bone reads like a union of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series and Jim Butcher's Dreseden Files, however it's not an imitator. Devon Monk has original ideas about magic, its use and how it impacts people. Her style is incredibly readable and it has the essential elements key to a blockbuster series. Monk's characters are well drawn and engaging. The love interest is dark and mysterious (ala Stephanie Plum) but with enough depth to make him more than wallpaper.
What I loved the most about Magic to the Bone was how it painted St. Johns as a gritty and rough part of town, avoided by most, but with a special something for the people who inhabit it. It's the kind of love note to St. Johns that Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys is to Pittsburgh.
With the next installment in this new series, Magic In the Blood, slated for May of 2009, Devon Monk has a real shot at building a best selling franchise series. Hopefully readers in her home town can provide the base from which she can really launch that career.