Marked by Life and Death magic, Shame Flynn and Terric Conley are “breakers”—those who can use magic to its full extent. Most of the time, they can barely stand each other, but they know they have to work together to defeat a common enemy—rogue magic user Eli Collins.
Backed by the government, Eli is trying to use magic as a weapon by carving spells into the flesh of innocents and turning them into brainless walking bombs. To stop him, Shame and Terric will need to call on their magic, even as it threatens to consume them—because the price they must pay to wield Life and Death could change the very fate of the world...and magic itself.
Stone Cold by Devon Monk is the sequel to Hell Bent, and the second book in the author’s Broken Magic series. Firstly, this is a spinoff from Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series, but new readers don’t need to have read those books first in order to jump right into the storyline. For the record, that’s a good thing, because if you like this book, then you can go back and read the others to pick up additional details.
The shortest way to describe the world these books take place in is: magic is real and so are its problems. That’s putting it extremely simply, but this book is replete with interesting characters, and the issues that come from having any sort of contact with, or ability to wield magic. As is amply demonstrated by the two protagonists, Shamus ‘Shame’ Flynn and Terric Conley, who happen to be Death and Life magic users, and soul complements. This doesn’t mean they’re the best of friends, or that they want to spend every waking moment together. In fact, they often want to avoid each other for some very good reasons. But, they have a common foe; Eli Collins, who has aims beyond mundane crime and mayhem, and is the sort of adversary that will take both of them working together, in the truly impressive, and often scary way that they do so well.
Shame, as he’s called by everyone, is the most powerful wielder of Death magic alive. Terric is his equal in Life magic, and were close growing up, but finding out that they were soul complements made things more complicated between them. Notably, their relationship is platonic, while Terric is gay, and Shame is not, and Shame often pushes Terric to go out and find love, as he deserves it. Meanwhile Shame has a ghost or two following him around, and tries to avoid emotional entanglements because he literally kills people for a living.
Ordinarily, being so powerful would give Terric and Shame an edge on somebody like Eli Collins, but there’s the not insignificant issue of them having become the literal embodiments of Life and Death. Unsurprisingly, this is slowly eating away at their humanity, and each of them has issues asking for help.
Throw in complications from a coterie of other characters, including Davy, Allie, and Zay, a large amount of mortal peril, and this book stands alone from its parent series, and is a pleasure to read.