Friday, 16 April 2010

Book Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Grade: 5 stars

Novellus Perfectus!
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…
My thoughts: If I remember correctly, I first heard of Ilona Andrews on All Things Urban Fantasy where Abigail was raving about the Kate Daniels series. I don't know why I waited so long to order and then read it, because once I did, I was utterly captured by the magical universe Ilona Andrews created and became devoted to the Kate Daniels series.

The beginning of the novel might be daunting a bit at first, since the story starts deus ex machina: we are in the middle of events without any explanation or footnotes to understand the strange world and creatures Ilona Andrews has created. However, if you overcome your feeling lost and carry on, soon the story will reveal itself and will transport you to that magical Atlanta where magic is common and an everyday occurrence. (Check out Ilona Andrews official site, there is a Kate Daniels section where lots of interesting and very useful information can be found, among others the glossary to the different factions and creatures, presentation of some of the main characters and some general answers regarding the Kate Daniels universe or the M-Scans. I would advise you to check out the above links as the Kate Daniels universe is quite different from the usual UF universes and it can be a bit disorienting finding your feet at first.)  

The characters are all well developed and the actions are decribed in such a vivid and detailed way, you feel as if you were right there in the middle of the story.

The novel is narrated in the first person by the protagonist, Kate Daniels, a young twenty-something brave woman, who is alone in the world, having lost her father not too long ago, her mother when she was still a child, and now her only remaining family her guardian, good friend of her father was murdered. Kate works as a mercenery cleaning up magical problems. She is a strong yet very real character with flaws and insecurities. It is very refreshing to see a heroine who isn't perfect but human.

Kate's humour is bitingly sarcastic, she has bravado and a big mouth and tells off people who try to intimidate her. My favourite parts were her interactions with Curran, the Lord Beast, king of all weres. He, who is used to obedience and respect gets none of these from Kate. The first time they meet she calls him "Kitty, kitty", while he is a huge impressive golden lion! Just a small glimpse and you can understand why this novel made me chuckle so many times, which surprised me, usually urban fantasy novels aren't that funny. Well, Ilona Andrews series is an exception!

Ilona Andrews finds the perfect balance between packing the novel full of fast paced action and still developing details and spending time on deeper feelings, and she tops it all with fantastically humourous dialogues!

Curran is one of the main characters, the impressive and ruggedly handsome Lord Beast, king of all weres. He is extremely arrogant, frustrating the hell out of Kate, but responsible, brave and protective at the same time. He is a true leader figure and an irresisitible hero. His banter and cocky lines to Kate makes this novel so entertaining.

The plot is complex with a few small twists and turns keeping you interested and at the edge of your seat until the very end. (Be warned though that some mysteries will remain unsolved and you can only hope they will be revealed in the following books.) 

Verdict: This is a wonderful start to a fantastic new series! The story is fast paced, never dull due to the twists and turns, the characterisation is wonderful and another trait which makes Ilona Andrews and the Kate Daniels series outstanding is the humour! A truly enjoyable read, if you haven't read any Ilona Andrews books yet, don't tarry, go and procure yourself either Magic Bites (the 1st in the Kate Daniels series) or On the Edge (the 1st in The Edge series), you will thank me! ;-) Fans of Kelley Armstrong, urban fantasy lovers, this series is for you!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Writing: 10/10
Cover: 9/10 (I love the mysterious green light and billowing mist, they give such a powerful athmosphere to the cover. The lion is also fantastic as well as the glowing sword, my only problem is the girl on the cover: it's not the way I imagined Kate, I wouldn't picture her to have such a potato nose.)

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