I’ve heard good things about Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series for years. My sister is a huge fan of this series and is always asking me to find her more books like this one. Considering that I’ve never read any books in this series, this was a bit of a challenge. Sigh. When you work at a library, your family members never actually come to the library and check out books. No, they expect you to do this for them and magically figure exactly what they want to read. Anyways, I picked up the first book in the Kate Daniels’ series, Magic Bites, in the effort to understand the appeal. I don’t read a lot of urban fantasy, so it’s a genre I’m not super familiar with. The end result of this experiment, well, lets just say that I’m reading book two as soon as I finish this review.
Kate Daniels is a mercenary of the magical variety; she cleans up the magical problems in the Atlanta area. When her guardian is murdered Kate wants justice, which not only puts her in the sights of the Order, but also in the midst of power struggle between the People and the Pack. Kate blunders a bit trying to find out who exactly is responsible for the murder of her guardian, and she’s a bit out of her league. However, the situation gets really hot when Kate comes to the attention of the magical being that is hunting both the People and the Pack.
There is A LOT going on in Magic Burns. This is an alternative version of Atlanta where magic comes and goes, which leads to a whole host of magical problems. There are power struggles within the magical community and this community is large and diverse. The world building is interesting and complex, but considering that this is only the first in a series, the world building is most definitely not complete. I have many questions and I can only presume that it’s future books that will have the answers.
Alternative history aside, the characters also add an extra layer of intrigue. Again, since this is the first book in a series, you don’t really get a full picture of who they are. There is something mysterious about Kate. She’s very careful about her blood; each time she’s in a fight she makes damn sure not a trace of her blood his left behind. Why? Well, I’m not sure at this point, but I am curious. While Kate is the main character in the series, readers are also introduced to others who I’m told become series regulars: Curran, Derek, Jim etc. Just the tip of the iceberg is explored with these characters and I’m interested enough to know more.
As curious as I am about the world that Ilona Andrews has created, I have to admit to being somewhat let down. Considering who recommended this book to me, I was kind of assuming that romance would play a pretty big part in the plot. That really was not the case here; you only get a tiny hint of what’s to come. Again, I’m told that this changes over the course of the series and that’s enough to keep me reading (for now). Personally, I would have liked a bit more romance as that tends to be the kind of urban fantasy that I enjoy (something like Nalini Singh’s books).
So, while Magic Bites didn’t totally wow me (it was no historical romance!), I did enjoy the snarky character of Kate and the alternative, magically infused Atlanta setting. The book has a fun vibe and I can see why it’s a popular series.
Nalini Singh is probably my favourite urban fantasy writer; I adore her Psy-Changeling series. However, what came to mind when reading Magic Bites was Singh’s Guild Hunter series. In particular, I was reminded of Archangel’s Shadows which features another leading lady that has a lot of attitude. Recommended for those that like a lot more romance in their urban fantasy.
Anne Bishop’s The Others series is another favourite urban fantasy series. The world is cool, the monsters are actually monsters, and the characters are fantastic. It is essential that you start with book one, Written in Red. Seriously, go check it out now.