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Urban Fantasy Review: ‘Magic Bites’ by Ilona Andrews

‘Magic Bites.’  It appears to be a novel the urban fantasy style.  Something is missing though, something just doesn’t seem right.  Maybe it is just me, let me make a checklist.

-Interesting setting?  Huh, this one is here.  Wow, it is something quite a bit different too!  Sure it is mostly set in modern United States, but there is a twist.  Post-apocalypse, kind of.  Seems there was some sort of magic surge, came out of nowhere, ate portions of towns and changed everything.  Suddenly most the things that were once make believe are now real; vampires, werewolves, necromancers, and countless others.  Sure, there is the ‘everything and a kitchen sink’ approach but it too is explained, the magic feeds on people’s faith.  So if enough people think magic is X, then magic sometimes obliges them.  The magic of the world ebbs and flows as well, when a surge hit technology becomes useless only to work again when it recedes a bit.  Best I can tell the world is about 300 years in the future, but the magic has kept tech from progressing too much.  Ok, I think the book got this one right, moving on.
-Interesting protagonist?  Kate Daniels rocks!  She uses intelligence and cunning to work her way through this strange world, dealing with strange creatures all over the map.  She has a secret that gives her a little extra edge.  And when all else fails, she knows how to kick ass as well.  A particular scene comes to mind where a monster of a man (literally, he is a werewolf) grabs her and puts her back to the wall; Kate jams a small silver pin into his hand.  She won’t get pushed around, but her strength isn’t unrealistic.  What else is great about Kate?  Well, she is sarcastic as hell, unwilling to back down when she is right, still makes mistakes but learns from them, and through all that still seems to be a good person.  Absolutely the book got this right. 

So far all the pieces are there for a decent urban fantasy novel.  Having an interesting protagonist puts it ahead of the game in my mind.  But something still doesn’t seem right.  Hmm.

-Supporting characters?  Eh, a little weaker here.  Most the people Kate deal with are one-note types, but with this being Kate’s story that is forgivable to a certain extent.  The lead werewolf was a complete ass, but Kate knows this.  Her love interest was fairly boring as well.  Well, this could be what’s bothering me, but I think I am missing something more substantial.  I will keep searching.

OH!  I think I know what I was looking for!  ANYTHING RESEMBLING A LOGICAL PLOT!  Wow, there it is, I knew there was an important part missing for this to be considered a novel.  Some books are content to merely have plot holes, ‘Magic Bites’ must have felt the need to make those look like amateurs.  This book was a short 250 pages in paperback, moved quickly and flowed on the strength of Kate’s character so well that I almost missed that the actual plot line makes no f—ing sense.  The main bad guy had a plan so idiotic it defies explanation.  He is the one who tipped Kate off to how his own plan may be defeated.  With Kate being an important part his plan he let her keep digging at figuring it out rather than deal with her in the many opportunities he had.

Oh.  And the final battle was ridiculously anti-climactic as well.  Is there a page on TV tropes for ‘blacks out after battle and wakes in bed?’ 

3 stars.  But only because Kate Daniels is awesome.  I may read on at some point.   

Kate Daniels series
Magic Bites
Magic Burns
Magic Strikes
Magic Bleeds
Magic Slays

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Urban Fantasy Review: ‘Magic Slays’ by Ilona Andrews

Synopsis:

Kate Daniels, previously a mercenary cooperating with the Order of Merciful Aid, is now on her own. Not entirely of course – as the Consort of Curran, the Beast Lord, she enjoys the protection of the Pack as she tries to kick-start her own business. Independence is rarely easy, especially when your former employers keep badmouthing you publicly, the bills keep coming and the clients are not exactly swarming near your office door. When, after a month of empty run, a serious order is placed Kate must accept it willy-nilly although it might prove to be a tad too dangerous. She joined forces with her best friend Andrea, now a retired (and heartbroken) Knight of the Order but still….when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, it is never a laughing matter.

Things get complicated a bit and then another client arrives – Kate is asked to find a certain genius inventor who constructed a very dangerous device – something that might kill as efficiently as an atomic bomb but is aimed mainly at the magical community. It is also definitely far less conspicuous than any other weapon of mass destruction. Different factions would like to control the device and poufff!!! All of a sudden the inventor and the prototype is missing. Are these two incidents somehow connected? Will Kate figure out who kidnapped him in time to save Atlanta? Will she find her missing adoptive daughter, Julie, who chose to run away from school for the fourth time? What else she will be able to find about her past?

What I liked:

Finally I’ve encountered a series which authors are not afraid of tackling very dangerous and mostly uncharted waters of marriage. Yes, Kate Daniels is now officially married to his Furriness the Beast Lord and her adventures remain as interesting (if not more) as they used to be in the previous installments! Kudos for courage (well, the series is, after all, written by a husband-and-wife team) and kudos for performance! To all of the authors who say the series is over once you let the relationship actually form – get a big old raspberry! Or listen twenty times without a break to the Cher’s song ‘Do you believe in life after love?’ and learn the lyrics by heart along with the dance routine! Now perform it in front of your readers! Serves you right!

This part of the series is also, in my humble opinion, the best so far when it comes to psychology. The main heroine, surprise, surprise, matures a lot. She learns some new facts about her mother and her former guardian, Voron, and is able to analyze them from a new perspective. She also takes some practical lessons in responsibility and the ability of compromise. Meanwhile we are given plenty of very acute and accurate observations concerning the sources of mass murder and extremism. Overall I was really pleased by that aspect of this book.

Once again this series’ big highlight were the elements of Slavic mythology entwined cleverly into the plot and used in an original way. I love its take on vampires. What’s more? The pacing of the narration was a bit too frantic but what could you expect? It made the novel as unputdownable as ever.

What I didn’t like (with spoilers, sorry but it is a fifth installment):

Ok, now I think I will ruin my reputation a bit. Who cares. Yes, I wanted to see one character dead. A kid. She didn’t die and I resent it.

Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against that kid, she is cute and funny. The problem is that in this book she gets attacked and is infected with the Lyc-V virus. As a result, according to dr. Dolittle, she is inevitably turning into a loup. As always our wonder woman Kate manages to find a way to save her reminding herself about an obscure cabbalist called Eliah the Unbeliever.

Well, in previous books we were repeatedly told by different characters that it is virtually impossible to cure or save anybody who was turning or turned loup – any shifter, be it a child or an adult, who loses his/her sanity must be put down instantly as loupism is highly virulent, dangerous for the whole community etc, etc. Well, I do understand that the authors wanted to save the kid who provided constant comic relief; the readers might have reacted angrily if Julie had died as she was bound to do but letting her die would be, in my humble opinion, a far more consistent and logical move. Fairy tales are a domain of miraculous ‘cures’ of supposedly incurable ailments, not fantasy novels. This book was in some parts so good that such a solution and an instant HEA which followed it I found garishly out of place. On the other hand, when you think about it Curran managed to overcome a similarly dangerous predicament in a similarly outlandish way in the previous part so I suppose it is simply how the author deal with improbable problems. Pity. Without such silly, unreal scenes this series would be far more intelligent and excitable, at least to me.

Ok enough about poor Julie. I don’t like the cover too.

One more thing – the unresolved situation between Andrea and a certain bouda left me displeased but maybe it will be amended in the next part (I certainly hope for a HEA here).

Final verdict:

I really enjoyed that one and I will continue to read the series but please, let it be less miracles more logic in the next installments!

Kate Daniels series
Magic Bites
Magic Burns
Magic Strikes
Magic Bleeds
Magic Slays

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