Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews


November 14, 2012 by Heidi

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews book coverTitle: Gunmetal Magic [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Ilona Andrews  [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Complicated? First book in a series of spin-off novels set in the world of Kate Daniels. Can be read as a stand alone, but does have spoilers for the Kate Daniels series.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: July 31st, 2012 by Ace
Format: Paperback; 326 pages.
Source: Purchased.
Spoilers!: As stated, this review, and book contain minor spoilers for the Kate Daniels series.  This book takes place at the same time as the Kate Daniels novella, Magic Gifts (Kate Daniels 5.5).

The New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels novels have been hailed as “top-notch urban fantasy” (Monsters and Critics). Now, Ilona Andrews delves deeper into Kate’s world, and reveals its untold stories…

After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano—the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea’s former lover—die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world…gun with PARTY STARTER written on the side

After very much enjoying Andrea’s point of view in the novella, Magic Mournsnot to mention her status as best friend to butt kicking extraordinaire, Kate Daniels, I faced down the release of Gunmetal Magic with quite the feeling of anticipation.  I checked the library catalog multiple times a day anxiously awaiting its order, and when I realized I was never going to hold out that long, I purchased and devoured it shortly after release.  For some reason it’s taken me several months to actually sit down and write a review, but my slacker-status in no way degrades the absolute fun I had while reading.

Gunmetal Magic lets us zero in on Andrea at a point in her life where she is completely falling apart.  She’s been exposed as a closeted shapeshifter, expelled from the Order she gave her life to serve, dropped like a hot potato by her mate, and put in the increasingly uncomfortable position of needing to acknowledge a relationship with the Pack or high tail it out of post-shift Atlanta.  Mostly, Andrea wants to throw a one-girl pity-party, wallow in her closet, and spend her work hours not thinking about Raphael, the Order, or Aunt B.  Fat chance.

I love getting Andrea’s perspective on this world–Atlanta eroding under the crush of magic, Kate and Curran being too freaking perfect together to handle, the inner workings of the Pack and how they differ from other groups of shapeshifters.  We delve more deeply into Andrea’s dark childhood of intense torture and abuse, and by contrasting this past with the present Pack we can see just how unique and powerful a structure Curran has worked to create.  Andrea has a closet full of skeletons, and she is full of too much pride to let them go easily.

I’m continually surprised by how Ilona Andrews is able to distinguish Kate and Andrea from one another so completely.  The two best friends seem as if they should be so similar at face value, but are so extremely different on the page.  Andrea seems less wit and snark, and more biting humor; she has no authority problems, but heaps of communication issues.  Both Kate and Andrea are the products of long-term mental conditioning that has made them strong women with whom you don’t want to argue, but that same conditioning worked to make Kate strong while Andrea’s worked to break her down.

Watching Andrea and Raphael struggle to see if their relationship is worth saving was alternately hilarious and maddening.  There was a point at the beginning where I was so disgusted with Raphael I was ready to write him off forever.  The impending resolution was inevitable, but at the same time seemed so easy when it came right down to it.  I was happy to see Andrea begin to deal with who she is and what she wants as a person, but at the same time I found myself very frustrated and wishing both her and Raphael would just grow up, swallow their pride, and learn to communicate.

As always with the Kate Daniels books, this story was entrenched in mythology, and Gunmetal Magic’s play on Egyptian mythology was captivating.  It was so interesting to see shapeshifters relation to these ancient gods, and I am sure some of what we learn will come into play for us in Kate’s future.  There was the awesome Library of Alexandria project, some amazing fist pumping moments, and both Hitchhiker’s Guide and Lord of the Rings references to please us nerds.

Gunmetal Magic had its issues.  It wasn’t completely polished, some things came out of nowhere, and Andrea’s stubbornness got a bit old.  Despite this, Andrea’s story was a rockin’ good time.  What can I say?  She’s not Kate, but she’s a pretty decent surrogate in the meantime.  Certainly a must read for any Kate Daniels fan.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  I still have Magic Gifts left to read before I’m all out of Kate Daniels (for now)!  Plus some short stories and Curran PoVs.  I was very excited to see that Ilona Andrews plans to write other novels in the Kate Daniels world, and even MORE excited when I saw that the next will be my favorite–Jim and Dali!!

Recommended for:  Kate Daniels fans!

Get a second opinion:
The Nocturnal Library – “It is my favorite urban fantasy series by far, and I’m someone who reads a lot of urban fantasy. If you’re still undecided about picking it up, I say go for it as soon as possible. Given the chance, Kate and Andrea will win your heart in an instant.”
Book Harbinger – “While Gunmetal Magic was engaging for the most part, it didn’t hold my attention like some of the previous books, particularly in the last half.”
The Book Smugglers – “The fight sequences are good and bloody, the magic is bitingly potent, the villains sufficiently villainous and capable of destroying the world. What else could a girl want in a contemporary urban fantasy novel?”

I’ve also reviewed:

A Questionable Client (Kate Daniels .5)
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels 1)
Magic Burns (Kate Daniels 2)
Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels 3)
Magic Mourns (Kate Daniels 3.5)
Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels 4)
Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels 4.5)
Magic Slays (Kate Daniels 5)

On the Edge (The Edge 1)
Bayou Moon (The Edge 2)


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  1. I’ve never read an Ilona Andrews book, but this sounds like it’s right up my alley! (And huge nerd references?? YES PLEASE!!) Kate Daniels sounds like my kind of heroine, and her world is pretty intriguing to me!

    • Heidi says:

      You really ought to give Ilona Andrews a shot, Jac! Kate Daniels is really witty and fun, and I think you’d probably like Andrews’ The Edge series as well, which focus more on romance than Kate Daniels (where things get drug out for like 4 books :P).

  2. Aaahhh! I need to read this one ASAP! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Heidi, and like you, I love that Kate and Andrea’s voices are so distinct. I’m very curious about Andrea and Raphael’s relationship, not to mention the hidden layers of Andrea’s personality, so hopefully I can get my hands on this one soon. Wonderful review! 😀

    • Heidi says:

      You DO need to read it! And read Magic Mourns first if you’re able to get a hold of it–it’s an Andrea/Raphael novella, which will really help set you up to read this one.

  3. VeganYANerds says:

    It’s really impressive that an author can write such different characters, too often they just write the same ones over and over again so that is a great bonus to this series! Great review, Heids, I hope to read these books in the near future

    • Heidi says:

      I hope you give them a go as well, Mands! I have been really impressed with Ilona Andrews’ versitility–particularly with characters that feel like they should be so alike.

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.