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Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

October 4, 2010

Kate Daniels is a heroine in a thousand and I think this might be because she is the brainchild of a husband and wife team. Together, they work to create a tough, likeable, sarcastic strong female protagonist. I was slow to warm up to this series, possibly because the series itself had a slow start. In fact, when first read Magic Bites, I put it down for about three weeks before I picked it up again to finish it. By the time I was halfway through the book, I was hooked. It’s a series with everything—complex, intriguing world building, a kick-ass heroine with a sense of humor, werewolves, a hot Beastlord and layers, layers, layers. Kate Daniels’ Atlanta even has vampires—though not one that you’d care to meet in a dark alley. They’re majorly gross, which makes for a nice change from the tall, dark, handsome and (let’s not forget) brooding vampires that dominate both Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy.

In Magic Bites, the first book, we learned about Kate and some of her background, but mostly we’re introduced to the alternate world of a sometimes-magical Atlanta. In Kate’s world, the magic rises and falls. When the magic is “up”, technology doesn’t work. Nothing—no cars, no TV, no electricity. The opposite is true when the magic is down. Magic Burns finds Kate’s Atlanta during the onset of a flare—a time when the magic rises and falls rapidly. This means more chaos, of course, but it also means that all magic is intensified—both Kate’s magic and the magic of the other creatures she comes into contact with. The flare provides a backdrop for Kate’s Problem of the Book (PoB). Kate has more than the PoB on her plate, though. There’s Curran, The Beastlord attempting to court her. There’s Julie, a young girl who’s mother has gone missing, and who is placed into Kate’s care. There are the amazing, disgusting reeves with their vicious, prehensile (I kid you not) hair attacking at every available moment. There are also the stolen maps that the Pack has asked Kate to retrieve from a man able to appear and disappear at will.

But Kate is not too busy to be a slightly caustic observer of life. She’s realistic about who she is and what she expects from life. Which is pretty bleak. She knows that she has great power—and that has been both a blessing and a curse for most of her life. Kate’s origin is still a mystery—I can tell that we’re going to be learning about it at a glacial pace, just a bit, book by book. Yet, though Andrews teases us with the mystery a wee bit too much, I can’t wait to learn more. Also, the secret that Kate’s carrying plays a large part in her desire to resist Curran’s advances. Not that Kate can forget Curran’s promiscuous past and her firm belief that he’ll stop wanting her as soon as he’s had her. Then there’s the fact that she works for the Order and being involved with Curran would definitely be a complication she didn’t need. As I said—layers.

I think what I like best about Kate is that she’s very no-nonsense. When counseling young Julie, Kate doesn’t hold back. She tells the girl some very important things that she needs to know. They are painful to hear, but Kate doesn’t refrain from saying them, either because she thinks Julie is too young or because she wants to protect her. Kate knows that giving Julie the information is the best way to protect her—which is a refreshing change of pace, and keeps us from the kind of Big Misunderstanding that so often powers a novel. Kate is also a deeply caring person. She hides it easily, and she talks a lot about having only one friend, but it’s clear in this book that Kate has more friends than she knows about, or believes in.

I can’t review this book without touching on the relationship between Kate and Curran. In the first book, it didn’t look like Andrews was ever going to develop anything between the two, then—smack—the ending came and it was all suddenly worth it. I like that Andrews is taking plenty of time to develop the relationship. It reminds me a little of the Mercy Thompson books in that way. Patricia Briggs built Mercy and Adam’s relationship with almost glacial slowness. That’s what’s made the books so good, even after they finally got together—which is generally the death knoll for a series. I’m really looking forward to seeing Kate and Curran’s relationship twist and turn and eventually morph into the thing we all want to see. They’ll be great together. Neither could be with anyone else. If only I could get my hands on the rest of the series. I’d be in hibernation on my couch, cuddled up in a blanket so I could read my way through the first cold snap of the season.

See you tomorrow for the first edition of my Comprehensive List O’ Werewolf Books. Oh, and here’s the official description for Magic Burns.

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels knows how waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shape shifters, she quickly realizes much more is at stake. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug of war between two gods hoping for rebirth, and if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive.



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