Salute Your Shorts: Magic Tests by Ilona Andrews


December 13, 2012 by Heidi

Salute Your Shorts

Salute Your Shorts is a weekly (ish) feature here at Bunbury in the Stacks highlighting and reviewing short stories and novellas.

An Apple for the Creature ed. by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP KelnerTitle: Magic Tests in An Apple for the Creature [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Ilona Andrews  [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Kate Daniels 5.3 –Takes place just after Magic Slays.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Published: September 4th, 2012 by Ace Hardcover
Format: Hardcover; 336 pages. Magic Tests alone is 32 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

True strength isn’t in killing–or ignoring–your opponent, it’s in having the will to shield those who need your protection.

Magic Tests is an Ilona Andrews short recently published in the anthology, An apple for the Creature, though I believe it was previously published on the authors’ website.  Significantly shorter than the novellas we’ve previously enjoyed between books, Magic Tests gives us our first foray into the perspective of Julie, Kate and Curran’s feisty foster teen.  Because Julie is a teen, Magic Tests comes across as a much more YA installment in the Kate Daniels series, making it stand out from our glimpses at Jim, Dali, Andrea, and Raphael.

Insisting that Julie requires a “proper” education, Kate drags Julie to a headmaster’s office where she is certain to be miserable.  Julie just wants to work at Cutting Edge Investigations with Kate and Andrea, and is determined to do so, even if it means getting herself kicked out of yet another school.  To her surprise, however, the headmaster doesn’t seem to want to talk to Julie about enrollment, instead, he is asking her assistance in locating a missing student.  Julie’s unique brand of magic makes her uniquely qualified to help in such cases, and she happily accepts the commission, despite lingering suspicions that she’s being set up.

While I enjoyed Magic Tests, it was probably my least favorite story from the Kate Daniels universe thus far.  I found the plot surprisingly predictable, perhaps just a little oversimplified when taken to a YA state of mind.  It seemed too easy, neat, and tidy, which I suppose it had to be given the page length, but my mind craved more.

I’ve always been a fan of Julie (she’s scrappy, I love scrappy), and relished the opportunity to see her magical talents work from her own perspective, as well as garner those interesting tidbits on Kate that we always gather from outside perspectives.  It’s easy to see her adoration of Kate and just as easy to see that even though Julie’s had some very rough times in her childhood, Kate works to make sure she gets a childhood.  Compared to Kate or Andrea’s adolescence, Julie seems downright cosseted!  This is a good thing though.  Julie is smart, resourceful, and thanks to Kate and Curran, diplomatic.  She’s learning just where to lean and when to push, and it’s nice to see Julie turning into the young woman we weren’t sure she would have the chance to become.

Magic Tests is worth your time if you can find this anthology at your library, but if like me you are only interested in the Ilona Andrews story, An Apple for the Creature is not worth your money.

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)
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels 5.5/Kate Daniels Universe 1)

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


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  1. Aww, it’s a shame this one wasn’t as good as the other Kate Daniels novellas/short stories. Like you, I absolutely love Julie and I’m glad we get to see a little more of her, but I think I might skip this one. I still have Magic Dreams and Andrea’s short story to get to, not to mention her companion novel, so I think I have plenty of Ilona Andrews to keep me occupied in the meantime! 😉

  2. Yup, I know what you mean. This one wasn’t up to their usual standard, and I only enjoyed it because I really like Julie and because Kate showed up briefly. Other than that, it was predictable and not at all exciting.
    Ah, well, they are fabulous, so they’re allowed this one slip.

  3. […] also read and already returned: An Apple For the Creature ed. by Charlaine Harris: I only read Magic Tests, the Kate Daniels story by Ilona Andrews. Home Improvement: Undead Edition ed. by Charlaine […]

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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.