I was lucky enough to win a ARC of Magic at the Gate from Devon on her blog a few weeks back. It's the fifth book in her Allie Beckstrom series and releases next week, November 2nd, in the US.
SPOILERS for previous books, Magic on the Storm (book 4) in particular. Do Not read this if you're not up to date with the series or you'll spoil it for yourself. No spoilers for this book though.
Allie Beckstrom has walked in to Death to save her lover Zayvion Jones, who currently lies in a coma. Alongside her is her dead father, who may or may not still have a part of himself inside her head. Death is a dangerous place for Allie to be. Her chances of making it out alive, with Zayvion's soul, and in one piece, is almost zero. But Allie is a fighter, and stubborn as well, so if it can be done, she'll do it. With the gate having been opened though, there is no guarantee things won't be just as bad, or worse, back on the other side.
Magic at the Gate picks up exactly where Magic on the Storm left off, thankfully. It was a heck of a cliff hanger and left so much to be explored and explained. I liked that it just slipped straight back in, a quick reminder of what had just happened, then on with the story without missing a beat. Devon's depiction of death is just as clever and thought out as the living world. It's got it's own rules and magic twists. Not to mention some scary critters that just help give it that darker, creepier edge that it should have.
This is an excellent continuation of the series. It's got all the same greatness about it as the previous ones: great twists, engaging plot, fantastic characters who continue to grow and change, and great extension to the already impressive world building. Allie may have had magic at her fingertips (literally) her whole life, but she's still got a lot to learn. Just when you think there can't be any more big secrets to come from the Authority, there are. And not only are they big, they're Huge, completely eclipsing those that have come before. Magic at the Gate is no exception. There are some major issues finally revealed, giving just a glimpse of what is really going on for the first time. Not that, that makes anything more predictable or straight forward. In fact it makes it almost less so I think. But it is nice to have a few answers at last.
One of my favourite aspects of this series is the Hounds, and how Allie is now trying to take care of them as well. I was glad to see a bit more of them in the second half of the book, and I'm really hoping they'll get to play a bigger role still in the next book (Magic on the Hunt due out April 2011). I particularly love Davy. There is just something about him I really enjoy. His dogged determination to take care of Allie despite all her insistence that she doesn't need a keeper maybe.
My favourite character of the series though is Shame. Well, him and Terric. They're just so fantastic together. The way they play off each other, their issues with each other. I want to hug them both and smack them both and make them see sense. I love them both, but they're both so damaged as well. Their relationship so complicated. And they both have fantastic personalities. I would adore to see them have their own book, or even novella. Every time Shame or Terric was around I was just glued to them. Don't get me wrong, I love the rest of the book, Allie, Zay and everyone else as well, but Shame and Terric tend to steal the show a bit for me. Which I'm very happy for them to do. They've got some huge new obstacles facing them in this book and I really enjoyed watching them deal with them and how they both changed a bit as a result. For me, there wasn't nearly enough of them. I always want more of them.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It's got so many twists it was hard to put down because I needed to know what happened next. The ending was great, with no killer cliff hanger (which I have to say I'm kind of glad of, the previous one was bad enough!) but still with a lot left open. I think the book is a great bridge from the previous one, to the next. It's got that kind of feel to it. Plenty happens here, lots of important things and like I said, a few much needed answers. But towards the end it's also got the feel of a set up for the next big conflict/issue. I think this is probably my favourite of the series so far, but I'm very excited to see what comes next as I think it could be even better.