Monday, April 07, 2014

Devon Monk - Stone Cold: A Broken Magic Novel

Devon Monk - Stone Cold: A Broken Magic Novel

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Whether in physics or in magic this axiom holds true.

Shame wields Death Magic while Terric wields Life Magic and between them is balance. Well, at least sometimes there is at least some sense of balance.  They are Soul Complements and they struggle with it mightily.

But, magic is healed, fixed, and whole.  It is also now far less useful and powerful. Sort of. It is far less useful and powerful unless you control one of the few people who can still wield or break magic. It is far less useful and powerful unless you control Soul Complements. Killing off Soul Complements will make those few who can control magic and magic users even more powerful.

Stone Cold is an apt title because our narrator Shame is desperately fighting against being just that.  He wields Death Magic; it draws on his desires, it soothes him with death’s caress, and he knows it sometimes has control over him and makes him a monster. In the hands of a monster it would be horrific, but Shame is more than just that magic he wields.  He has a Soul Complement in Terric that wields Life Magic and can help him balance himself, but wielding magic as Soul Complements has its own dangers.

Soul Complements are in danger and are being eliminated. Too many plot points would be spoilers.

Real world Portland, OR continues to be the setting.  Portland is a town I get to visit regularly and I now find myself picturing the locations as they have been described. When in downtown Portland I cannot help but look up at a rooftop to see if I am being followed now.

Part of the draw of Monk’s take on magic as a source of energy has been the blending of science with the magic, how it has been researched and worked with technology.  Magic has a price to wield because there has to be some sort of balancing counter to the use of energy.  It is not merely something that exists and is a useful storytelling piece. The implication that magic is merely another form of energy that can be channeled and used, but also can be bottled up and stored like a battery is integral to the overall back story of the world created here.

There is so much about this book and series I can rave about.  Devon Monk has managed to continue her first person narrative from the earlier Allie Beckstrom books, switching POV genders in the process without losing the sense we are in the same world. Allie and other previous series characters continue to be represented and it is interesting to see them from the different POV of a character that has gone through shared experiences.  There is a feeling of familiarity and yet difference to what happened before that is a draw.  It is not Rashomon where all is different, but it definitely gives a different sense of what the shared experiences mean to other characters.

Stone Cold was released on April 1, 2014 by Roc Books


Q & A With Devon Monk

How specific are you about Landmarks in PDX?  Or are you trying to give a more general feel?

I wanted to give a general feel and just sprinkle a few landmarks in here and there.

Changing POV from a female lead for 9 books to a male lead in the same universe
where the characters interact in the next two, what were the challenges?

The gender switch was fun, as I enjoy writing from both male and female points of view. What was even more fun and different about writing Shame (as compared to Allie) is his view on the world is sort of point-loaded and brief. Everything in the world around him is noted and dismissed with one word or thought, which is often funny. Allie observes every detail, sound, and scent of her surroundings.

By having a two book series in the same universe, were you concerned about accessibility?

A little. My hope was to write these two books so they could stand on their own and the reader wouldn't need to know the Allie books to enjoy them. I've seen readers report that they can, indeed, be read without knowing the other series, but those who have read the Allie Beckstrom book agree that it makes reading the spinoff series even richer.

Role of the ghost, was she Shame's conscience?

She was his failure. His biggest fear. She was a constant sign of his weakness. I think she became his conscience as time went on.

The very notion of a Death Magic user out of control as a lead character
doing horrible things, were you concerned he could be the bad guy and
the lead character at the same time?

There was a line to walk there, and my editor had to reel me back from it a bit. But I think Shame is funny enough, and broken enough, and even noble enough (when push comes to shove) that his darkness and light balance out in the end.

Soul Compliments take on issues of gender and sexuality.  Do you get any push back on that?

Not at all.

In Broken Magic it is Govt conspiracies after Secret Organizations in the Allie books, was that an organic or conscious choice?

Organic. Exposing all (well, most) of the dirty secrets of the Secret Organization triggered the government's response, and then things got interesting.

Physics.  For every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Is the magic price rooted in that?

Yes. Or at least action = consequences, which is a heck of a lot of fun when magic is involved.

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