Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews


April 6, 2012 by Heidi

Title: Magic Bites [Amazon|GoodReads]
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.
Get a second opinion:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger


If you liked that you might like this:


  1. Chachic says:

    "Most urban fantasy I’d read was YA, which tends to have a different feel." -> Yep, adult urban fantasy has a very different feel. I used to think I wouldn't like it until I read the Kate Daniels series. So glad you're enjoying Ilona Andrews' books. :)

  2. This os for me, without a doubt, the best UF series out there. I had a rocky start with the first book to but Kate is just too good! Enjoy!

  3. I just woke up, sorry for the typos in the message 😀

  4. Lena Anne says:

    I love this series! Curran = RAWR! The world that Andrews builds is incredible. I completely agree that YA Urban Fantasy and adult are very different. Not saying one's better than the other, but it is different. So glad you enjoyed this one! FYI: The series gets better and better. :-)

  5. Oh my gosh I need to read Magic Bites like YESTERDAY! It sounds really good! Also, I like when reading makes me want to work out since in real life I never really get that urge.And badass characters are totally my thing!

  6. I have not read this series yet, but man I want to! Great review. I will definitely be getting this series.

  7. Ooo, I'm glad you enjoyed it, Heidi! I only started reading Kate Daniels last year, and I have to say she's pretty kickass. :) It's true that the books do get better and better–what IS it about urban fantasy that makes this so? P.S. I linked to your Killers review today, since I did a little recap of a Barry Lyga signing. :)Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  8. janicu says:

    Yes! Oh and if you liked this one, the series gets better. A lot of people I know didn't really get into this series until the second book, but I was sold from the beginning on the world building alone, so I love that you loved that crazy Atlanta.

  9. Holly says:

    This is good. *rubs hands together*PS I agree with Lisa. :)

  10. Heidi says:

    Me too! I'll be paying more attention to adult UF now in general.

  11. Heidi says:

    Lol, no problem, sounds familiar. Like I said, I liked this first one, but I didn't love it. I know the series just gets better though, so I'm happy to keep going.

  12. Heidi says:

    I agree! They're very different…I like them both for different reasons, and will keep reading both.

  13. Heidi says:

    YES YOU DO! You'll totally be into this series, April, Kate is your kinda gal.

  14. Heidi says:

    Excited to hear what you think when you do, Ashley! I think it's pretty obvious from the comments that this is a LOT of people's favorite UF, and I can't help but agree in its awesomeness.

  15. Heidi says:

    I know, right? Some series I just get sick of, but this is the type of series that I can just crave to keep on going since it's all nicely contained stories. Excited to catch up! And thanks for the link! =)

  16. Heidi says:

    Yes, the would building was awesome! Probably my favorite part. I've finished the second book so far, and I did like it slightly better, but was enough into the series to keep going anyway. =)

  17. Heidi says:

    *looks around with paranoia* Was there something in that cool aid?

  18. […] 308 pages Source: Borrowed from my local library. Spoilers!:  This review contains spoilers for Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, and Magic Bleeds, so go read those first! Plagued by a war between […]

  19. […] also reviewed: A Questionable Client (Kate Daniels .5) Magic Bites (Kate Daniels 1) Magic Burns (Kate Daniels 2) Magic Mourns (Kate Daniels 3.5) Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels 4) Magic […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

RSS FeedE-mailTwitterGoodreads

My Current Bunbury

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


FTC Disclaimer

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.