Review: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews


August 13, 2012 by Heidi

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews book coverTitle: Magic Slays [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Ilona Andrews [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Book 5 in the Kate Daniels series.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: May 31st, 2011 by Ace
Format: Paperback; 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 magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . . .

Going into Magic Slays, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I knew that it wasn’t the final showdown.  I knew it wasn’t even what I am assuming will be the next to the final showdown…so where was it going to go after the intensity that was Magic Bleeds?  Well, the answer to that, my friends, is in a completely different direction.  You know how in a season of of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural there is the overarching plot, but then, every once in a while there’s a seemingly random episode that has very little to do with said plot?  Well, that’s pretty much what Magic Slays was–one of those fun, filler episodes, that somehow always end up being my favorite despite their obvious filler qualities.  As such, I’m going to come out and say that Magic Slays is second only to Magic Strikes for me in terms of Kate Daniels love.

Kate’s come a long way from the very stand alone mercenary that we first saw in Magic Bites.  As we go along, Kate forges more connections and stronger relationships, and through these we get more interaction.  As enjoyable as it can be to dwell in the head of Kate Daniels: master of quippy wit and biting snark, it is her ever developing relationships that make each book more and more enjoyable.  In Magic Slays, I was constantly laughing at her interactions with Andrea, brought to tears by Julie, pumping my fist with Ascanio and Jennifer, and wanting to gather her and Curran into a big group hug (and yes, imagining the looks those two would give me if I did this gives me no end of entertainment).  I was a little put out that there wasn’t more (or any) of some of my favorite characters like Jim, Dali, and Rafael, but I know Ilona Andrews has my back and will be including them in the future.

I felt like Magic Slays provided some much more philosophical content than the previous books in the series with its examination of the potential for inhumanity in humans.  The exploration of fanaticism was fairly potent in this regard, and personally I find nothing more frustratingly terrifying than fanatics.  They cannot possibly be reasoned with, and their willingness to do anything to meet their goals makes them an unflinching opposition.  As such, the focus on mythology waned somewhat in this installment, which I’ll admit was a bit of a disappointment.  This husband and wife dou’s inclusion of a wide variety of mythologies is one of my favorite aspect of these books, but Magic Slays has a focus on more of an anti-mythology.  There is, of course, enough to keep me satiated (more Russian folklore this time, with touches of Judaism), with a big ol’ Hobbit style showdown at the end, so I can hardly complain overly much.

Magic Slays is also the first of these books where I felt there were a lot of emotions involved other than humor and lust.  Sure, those were still there, but the fear was more palpable, and the heartbreak evident.  I’m continually in awe of Kate (and the rest of the crew) who instead of falling apart when their world crumbles around them rally to get the job done.  Kate doesn’t let herself fall apart because she truly can’t afford to, but her ability to push on will forever boggle the mind.

This installment was far from perfect, there were some inconsistencies that seemed like they should have been edited out, and it tended to get a bit bogged down in descriptions at times, but the action, pacing, and plot were so on for me that the weaknesses hardly affected my enjoyment of the overall book.  I dream of the day when I’ll be able to chew someone out like Kate, but until it arrives, I’ll just have to look forward to reading more of her story.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  I finished Magic Slays only days after Gunmetal Magic’s release, and was doubly happy to remember that I also have Magic Gifts to read from Christmas!  Not to mention all of the Curran PoV…

Real life repercussions of reading this book:
Forget Batman, I will forever associate Kiss From a Rose with Curran…and most likely laugh gleefully every time I hear it.  As the man said, it begged for a soundtrack:


Get a second opinion:
The Nocturnal Library – “Dear Ilona and Gordon Andrews, if you keep on writing like this, I will gladly buy Magic Whatever # 15.”
Angieville – “Magic Slays is a rocking good time. Crunchy Kate goodness at its best.”
The Booksmugglers – “Though Magic Slays is a bit of a series filler novel, it’s enjoyable enough and obviously essential reading for the Kate Daniels fan.”
Janicu’s Book Blog – “I don’t know how many ways I can say the same thing after I read one of these books, so just imagine me pressing this book into your hands, nodding enthusiastically. If you haven’t read this series…seriously, read it will you?”
Chachic’s Book Nook – ” I gobbled up Magic Slays and it still left me hungry for more. I think the stage is nicely set for the next two books in the series and as always, I can’t wait to read them.”

I’ve 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 Dreams (Kate Daniels 4.5)


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  1. VeganYANerds says:

    Ilona is one of those authors that I’ve only started hearing about since joining the book blogging world and this is definitely a series I’d like to read. I love your comparison to a filler episode 😉

    • Heidi says:

      I never heard about Ilona Andrews before I started blogging either! Urban Fantasy in general is one of those things I’ve only found because of blogging, and I absolutely am in love with the genre. =)

  2. Oh, man, you are going to love Magic Gifts so much! And then you’re going to love Gunmetal Magic, but not quite as much because as awesome as Andrea and Raphael are, they’re not Kate and Curran, and then we’re going to cry and bite out nails together while waiting for that next Magic Whatever to come out.

    • Heidi says:

      I know!!! Honestly the crying and nail biting are the biggest reason I’m reading On the Edge right now instead of Gunmetal Magic. I kind of feel like as long as there’s more out there, I feel better about this series. =)

  3. This is one of those authors that I need to start on. I think I came to Urban Fantasy later than everyone else, so I’ve only begun several series, which is really fun. There are still a ton out there for me to read, including this one. I’ve seen it all over the place though.

    UF is probably one of the most fun things to read, period. It is easy and fun. That is all. Love it.

    • Heidi says:

      Urban Fantasy is hands down my favorite thing I’ve discovered since I started blogging. Before this year, I didn’t even know of it as a genre. Kate Daniels is where I started since it seems to be pretty conclusively the best (or at least most people’s favorite), and I couldn’t recommend it more for those who like the genre.

      Seriously, try some Ilona Andrews, you won’t regret it. I’ve tried a bit of other UF so far, but nothing’s come close. :)

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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.