This is the first book in the Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk. This series currently has five books with the sixth book, Magic on the Hunt, due out in April of 2011. This was an easy read and a solid start to a new urban fantasy series.
Allie works as a Hound, she tracks magic back to it's source, a dangerous job in a world where using magic always has a price. When a young boy is gravely injured Allie Hounds back the source of the magic to her father. Her father denies involvement. At her father's office she finds out that a man, Zayvion, has been hired by her father to protect her. When Allie's father is killed things begin to spiral out of control. Allie is blamed for the murder and is blundering into magic that she never even dreamed existed. Now Allie is hunted with only the sexy Zayvion to help her out, can she trust him? What was really going on with her father before his death?
This was a quick and fun read. Allie is a tough girl, who is seriously stubborn, but has a great sense of sarcasm. There is dark humor sprinkled throughout the book. The book moves at a fast pace and the magic system development is a bit ambiguous but interesting all the same.
The characters in this book are well thought out and engaging; all of them have mysterious pasts and are intriguing. Zayvion is a wonderful male lead; he obviously has a lot of secrets but his soft spot for Allie brings out his humanity. There are some steamy scenes between him and Allie throughout the book; they are decently done and are sensual without being really explicit.
I love the world that Monk's created. I especially love the idea that magic extracts an immediate price from the user. Allie's sporadic amnesia as a price for using magic is another interesting bit that is thrown into this story.
This story is well-wrapped up with some threads left dangling for the next book. As with many first books in urban fantasy series, this book mainly sets things up and introduces us to Allie's world.
I had a couple complaints; the main one is that Allie spends an awful lot of her time being saved by other people. It seems like whenever there was trouble Zayvion was there to catch Allie as she fell. That was kind of sweet, but at the same time it made Allie seem weaker than she should have been. My other complaint is that the magic system is a bit vauge.
Overall a solid urban fantasy, definitely more of an introduction to Allie's world than anything else. I really loved the easy to read writing style, the intricate characters, and the world building. The fact that magic extracts a steep cost whenever used made things really interesting. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, Magic in the Blood. I hope the second book fills out the magic system better and that we see Allie really step up and learn to control her magic.