Have I ever told you guys how much I fangirl over Devon Monk’s books? Cause I do. Before Goodreads I’d check her blog religiously to make certain I wouldn’t miss anything, and then after Goodreads I let my release day system fall by the wayside, and as a result I was nothing short of horrified to see how long ago this was released. I adore this series and I’d missed release day *insert wide eyed horror stricken face here*. Anyway, enough of my personal problems let me tell you why this is a series you should be reading. Key words: badasses everywhere, magic, Shamus Flynn, seat-of-your-pants action, heartbreak, love, masterful storytelling, fully developed world, grit, and more.
This is a spin-off of Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series featuring one of my all-time favorite characters: Shamus Flynn. Shame, as he prefers to be called, is a dark and twisted guy with a heart of gold; he is also the single most powerful Death magic user known. His soul complement, Terric, is the equally powerful Life magic user and the two of them have struggled with this tie for years. They were friends in their youth, actually several of these characters grew up close enough to be brothers, but when Shame realized he and Terric were soul complements things got even worse between them than it’d been. Terric is gay and Shame is not and for the longest time I wondered if their bond would be something that brought them together physically, but while they make serious strides with their connection in this book things are just as non-physical as they ever were, and it works perfectly.
In this story that sadistic madman Eli is still on the loose and coming after Shame with a vengeance to repay Shame for what he had done to him. Eli is a horror, an absolute horror of a human and as Shame and Terric fight against his horrific plot things looked pretty bleak. Shame and Terric may be the two most powerful magic users in existence since the effects of their actions in prior books meant that the two of them weren’t users so much as the embodiment of their given discipline, but it eats away at them and slowly but surely they understand they’re losing their grip on humanity. It doesn’t help either of them that they stubbornly refuse to accept the benefits of being each other’s compliment, but it works out for the best in the end.
We get to see Allie and Zay again, and Davy too, though Davy really got on my nerves at one point in the story. Poor Davy had been kidnapped and tortured by Eli and as Shame is trying to save him there’s a casualty… one of the people who’d gone with Shame on this rescue didn’t heed his warning about staying away from him as he wrestled with his magic and was killed. He bound the soul to him (his second) and that person raged at him so bad I just wanted him to shut them up. It wasn’t Shame’s fault- and the whole dynamic for a while pissed me off. Shame owed them a favor, which is how they ended up together at that warehouse, but Shame’s debt wasn’t nearly as important as he was being made to feel. Words thrown at him like “I own you in this” pissed me off- no, you don’t, and he’s helping you when he’s so completely fucked up from magic that it’s a shock he’s still standing, so re-fucking-lax, but instead someone died. Sigh. Then Davy got all ragey about it and blamed Shame and Shame just took it. Because guilt. I get his guilt, because poor guy, he didn’t want to kill them but he wasn’t in control of his magic and he was justified in that. He’d only just woken up from his own trip into death for cryin’ out loud! I really love Shame, always have, so it was hard for me to see these people always saying shit to him about how they’d take him down if his magic hurt someone- just cut the guy a break for the love of all that is holy! He tried staying away from everyone but then they insist on being around him but then give him hell for his suffering. GAH, frustrating, but be that as it may, I could still understand where they were coming from, though I wish they’d have more understanding for him.
As you can undoubtedly tell these are characters that I love a great deal, and it’s thanks to the fact that Devon Monk is a badass. Her writing snuck up on me several years ago, but man, let me tell you what, you’re missing out if you haven’t tried it yet. This series is a spin-off, yes, but it’s also fully able to stand alone. The characters that were in Allie’s series (like Allie herself, lol) are there with an explanation and not knowing their history doesn’t detract from the main storyline. I’d still recommend reading that series first just to have that joy of seeing old favorites again, and it was in Allie’s books that I realized I loved me some Shame. These books are all about the adventure, hard choices people have to make sometimes, and overcoming anything. They’re written with the skill that any bookworm wants- you’re not just along for the ride sort of watching from the sidelines, you’re in the story living with these people, hurting with them, and being overjoyed with them. From the start you are only ever at the mercy of what Monk wants you to be and I can’t get enough.