April 6, 2012 by Heidi
Author: Ilona Andrews [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Kate Daniels #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: March 27th, 2007 by Ace Books
Format: Paperback; 260 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake. Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings– and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league- but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’d been hearing great things about Ilona Andrews’s urban fantasy series for some time, when I was finally pushed into reading Kate Daniels for several reasons. First, Ilona Andrews released Magic Gifts, a Kate Daniels short, giving it away free to fans as a Christmas present. I adore authors who do this sort of thing for their fans. I know short stories as additions to series are gaining popularity, and I think this is a great trend. It’s even better when it’s done in such a fun way, and this got me to start reading Ilona Andrews’ blog posts. That was the second thing that got me to pick up Magic Bites. Ilona Andrews has some thoughts about writing that I can get behind (for example, she has a great stance on review drama), and any time I come to respect an author personally I also find myself very much wanting to promote them professionally.
So enter Magic Bites, starring Kate Daniels: Badass. Now, I’m not quite head over heals with this series yet, but I did like Kate, Curran, and the world enough to keep going. Also I hear it gets really good come Magic Strikes (#3). Anyway…
The urban fantasy world created by Andrews is, for lack of a better term, awesome. Kate Daniels is a mercenary in futuristic Atlanta, where a balance is constantly shifting between magic and technology. When magic is high, tech fails. Your phone won’t work, your car won’t work, and you better have some good magic guarding your house because not much else will keep the creepos out. Kate can control a great deal of magic herself, which helps with the whole mercenary gig, but she bristles under authority and dislikes working through official channels. Much to her chagrin, she finds herself knee deep in official business, and stuck between the Pack and The Masters of the Dead in a mystery that’s more personal than business.
I loved the interesting set up of this world. The Pack, a group of shapechangers including not only werewolves, but those who change freely into other creatures as well (KITTY!), has its own interesting structure and customs that Kate maneuvers or metaphorically kicks in the balls as she sees fit. Vampires are animalistic creatures controlled and branded by Masters of the Dead, and Kate knows all of the lowest of the low to squeeze for info when needed:
When in doubt and in need of information, find a snitch and squeeze him. That was one of the very few investigative techniques I was aware of. As a matter of fact, that and the “annoy principals involved until the guilty party decides to kill you” pretty much summed it up for me. Move over, Sherlock.
I hadn’t really read classic urban fantasy like this before. Most urban fantasy I’d read was YA, which tends to have a different feel. It kind of clicked for me part way in, that this is a lot like reading modern crime fiction. Now, I never really got much into that genre, but throw in the fantasy elements, and I was pretty much sold on the whole concept. I can see why people are such fans of this and the The Edge series, and I can see myself lining up for both of them.
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: Magic Burns is sitting on my end table just waiting to be picked up!
Recommended for: Fans of serial crime fiction who are open to fantasy elements, and urban fantasy fans. People who love a strong female protagonist who is far from dainty.
Real life repercussions of reading this book: I feel even more lazy and out of shape than normal. Train to be a badass? Heck, I need to work on running around the neighborhood without using my inhaler.
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