Using magic meant it used you back. Forget the fairy-tale, hocus-pocus, wave a wand and bling-o, sparkles and pixie dust crap. 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 innocents. 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 strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magic Offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.
Now Allie's out for the truth - and must call upon forces that will challenge 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.
Allie is a hound, someone who can smell and identify the use of magic in crimes. The use of magic comes with a health cost but criminals offload their 'payment' onto others to avoid it. When she scents her father's trail at the near death of a child that she knows, she is determined to confront him about it. Despite his denials, she doesn't believe him-until he is dead and she is framed. With only the help of her father's spy Zayvion Jones, Allie needs to find out the truth while avoiding those hunting her.
This book was kind of hit and miss for me. There were things that I liked and disliked about it so I decided to give it a reread before deciding whether or not to continue with the series. I did actually start book 2 but it wasn't really grabbing me and I chose not to continue with the series after that.
I liked the idea that magic might let you do something easier but that you will pay for it in your health in some way later. You can choose to have a headache for two days, a flu bug in two weeks time or lose a few memories. This was pretty unique to me and I liked that Allie had to think hard about what to do every time she wanted to use a spell. Allie usually forgets to choose her payment and ends up ill at the worst possible times, which adds a bit of interest to the story.
One of the problems with the book is that Allie is literally chasing her tail the entire time and continually going back to the same place, which makes it pretty easy to target her. She goes to investigate how Boy gets hurt, leaves, goes back there to hide out when in trouble, leaves, goes back, gets kicked out etc. She must have spent a fortune in taxi fares to keep going out to the bad part of town and all it got her was more trouble and paybacks for using magic. It was this going back and forward to Boy's house that got a bit dull.
I didn't like Mama much. It was obvious that she was using Allie and taking advantage of her kind nature to get free help yet didn't always return the favour. I didn't really take to Zayvion from the start and Allie was obviously not using her brain to get involved with someone she didn't trust and barely knew. His overall treatment of her was poor and I felt no chemistry between the characters. She should have listened to Nola about not sleeping with him. Allie herself is ok but she is a bit dumb, doesn't learn from her mistakes and always needs to be rescued from her latest bit of trouble. I'm not surprised that her father had someone spying on her. She is meant to be a hound yet can never remember to delay/offset the payback for using magic which suggests she is not very professional and explains why she only has the money to live in a hell hole.
The book plot as I said, goes round in circles and never seems to really get to somewhere interesting. There are a few good scenes but I felt that this book promises more than it really delivers in a lot of areas. Few of the characters are likeable, the plot is a bit samey and our heroine needs a bit more common sense. There is the potential for a decent series but it was not delivered in this book.