Magic, like booze, sex, and drugs, gave as good as it got."
Everything has a cost. And every act of magic exacts a price from its user--maybe a two-day migraine, or losing the memory of your first kiss. But some people want to use magic without paying, and they offload the cost onto an innocent. When that happens, it falls to a Hound to identify the spell's caster--and Allison Beckstrom's the best there is.
Daughter of a prominent Portland businessman, Allie would rather moonlight as a Hound than accept the family fortune--and the many strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magical offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.
Now, Allie's out for the truth--and the forces she finds herself calling on will overturn everything she knows, change her in ways she could never imagine...and make her capable of things that powerful people will do anything to control."
This is the first book in the Allie Beckstrom series, a series I was reluctant to try. I prefer shifters to magic, as a general rule, and I wasn't sure I liked the sound of this series. But a couple book buddies said it was really good, and they're rarely wrong (okay, differing opinions doesn't make them wrong as such, but, ya know... ;-) ). I'm glad to say they were right this time as well. I got hooked on this book really quickly and had a hard time putting it down.
Allie is the daughter of one of the most powerful magic users around, so she's pretty well known. But she hasn't seen her father in seven years, and lives on very little working as a Hound in order to pay rent and keep food on the table. When she finds a young kid who's dying of an illegal magic offload with her father signature, she storms straight to him to deal with it. She's furious and determined to see him pay for his crimes. But within a very short space of time things take a stranger, darker turn in her latest case. Nothing is quite as it seems and Allie suddenly finds herself fleeing to try and protect herself. Allie is a loner with just one friend, a woman who lives 300 miles away on a farm that doesn't use magic. She doesn't trust easily and so she's naturally cautious, if attracted, to the very mysterious Zayvion Jones who is around when she begins the Hounding case on the boy and always seems to be around when weird stuff keeps happening.
I actually really love the world created here. The way magic has (very serious) limits and consequences for it's use. And Allie is no exception to those rules. She spends a lot of the book dealing with the fallout of using magic and she keeps a little book on her at all times with vital details of her day to day life so that if she loses the memories of a case she's working on or something, she has at least got a way to fill in a few little gaps. The memory loss is an interesting twist, because there are times when she loses part of her memory of events the readers have seen so she can react to things and we think 'seen/know that, you've already done this once'. But that's not to say it gets repetitive, because it doesn't. It's just something that does happen occasionally. It's something Allie has to deal with, so we get to deal with it along the way as well.
The plot moves along quickly with some good twists and turns. There is one moment in particular near the end which seriously shocked me. Like, enough that I couldn't keep reading for a few moments. That doesn't happen very often. Maybe I should have seen it coming, but I didn't, and it had a pretty huge impact. I really liked the characters too. Allie is very easy to get on with, and I really felt for her as she tried to figure out what was going on, tried to deal with memory loss and the other effects of using magic. Zayvion is mysterious, but I love his character anyway. He's clearly hiding a lot, but we get to see enough of him over the course of the book to get a decent sense of him. The ending isn't a cliffhanger, but it did leave me wanting more. There is a lot left very open at the end of this book, to be dealt with in the rest of the series, which I ordered as soon as I was done with this! A great read, looking forward to catching up on the series! 9/10