Sunday, 30 March 2014

Kate Daniels Series #1: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Published: April 1st 2007 by Ace
Goodreads Summary: 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…


For some reasons I can't understand, urban fantasy has a bad name. But Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels’ series will win over even the most sceptic of the genre.

In the world created by the wife and husband duo, magic and technology can’t coexist together. It’s either one or the other, if magic is up that means phone are out of work and when technology is up magical devices will stop functioning. This phenomenon is called a shift.

In Magic Bites, the first book of what will be a 13 novel series, we meet Kate Daniel , a mercenary, someone who deals with any magic related trouble in exchange of money. Her work can involve fighting off a horde of loup (shapeshifters who have gone bestial), hacking off a Gorgone’s head, act as bodyguards, really, she is up for anything as long as the client pays. Mercenaries or merc as they like to call themselves, are essentially sellswords.

I guess by now, people would have understood that we encounter all sort of magical creatures and magical cults in the book. And that’s for the better. A good novelty in this series, is that for once vampires aren’t seductive, rich and beautiful, they are carnivorous zombies who need to be tamed and controlled by navigators (humans who are versed in necromancy and members of an organization called the People).

At the beginning of the story, Kate’s guardian and only family Greg is murdered. She goes on a vengeful quest to find his murderer in Atlanta. It’s a perilous road, she has no clue as to where to start her research, no connection and worse, everybody can potentially be an enemy. In order to get her foot in the door, she joins The Order, a sort of magical police. Soon danger lay before her and she finds an unlikely ally in the Pack, a group of shapeshifters as deadly as they are disciplined. But how far can she trust this relation? That’s the millions dollar question.

In this fast paced, gripping story, there is no moment of dullness. Everything is there, humour, romance, fighting and mystery. I especially liked how the romance part of the story doesn’t interfere with the plot. It complements it, as it shows a different side of Kate.

For the moment there is some sort of chemistry between Kate and Curran. Curran is the Beast Lord (yes, for real), he's the one who rule ALL shapeshifters in Atlanta. The promise of a possible relation between them didn't really heat me up.

Partially because the Beast Lord seemed possessive, overbearing and prone to violence (and I really don't find these traits appealing), but mostly because I found a relation between the two oh so obvious. I read one dialogue between both characters, and I was like "Okay, we've got Kate's lover figured", *insert eyeroll*.

My love for the book wasn't hindered by that, though.

If not for the action, Kate’s wit keeps the reader hooked. Kate is a badass type of character: she is tough, smart and knows how to defend herself. That doesn’t mean she’s perfect, her loud mouth often gets her in trouble and her love life is bit of a mess (killing monster for a living doesn’t help).

The only complaint I have is that too much badassness kills the badassness. Most women protagonist in urban fantasy are just like Kate, independant, headstrong, witty and kickass. 

However Magic Bites' heroine is overstepping the tough girl archetype. Kate is incredibly knowledgeable, doesn't seem to be afraid of anything and armed with her sword Slayer, she's a killing machine.She's like the ultimate tough girl.  I like Kate, she’s a fun character, but I wouldn’t have minded if she had been a teensy bit weaker.

This flaw doesn’t take away the greatness of the book. Magic Bites is definitely a read I recommend for all Urban Fantasy fan and anyone ready to invest in a good book.

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