Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication date: May 2011
Paperback: 308 pages
Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.
Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.
So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . . .
Stand alone or series: Book 5 in the ongoing Kate Daniels series
How did I get this book: ARC from the publisher
**WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS UNAVOIDABLE SPOILERS FOR BOOKS 1-4 IN THE KATE DANIELS SERIES. If you haven’t read books 1-4 and wish to remain unspoiled, you really should look away. Now.**
As usual, Magic Slays finds Kate Daniels in the middle of a whole mess of trouble. Having successfully killed her aunt (a gleefully sadistic and power-crazed Goddess), and navigated Pack politics by accepting her role as official mate to His Furriness, Kate’s life is about as normal as it could possibly be. She sets up shop (Cutting Edge Investigations) and finally gets her first client – which immediately throws her life back into its usual state of chaos. Her new customers are the famous Red Guard – the best bodyguards in Atlanta – who have somehow lost their charge, noted scientist Adam Kaman. Given the difficult task of returning Kaman and the super sekrit device he was working on to the Red Guard, Kate, bff Andrea, and loyal attack poodle Grendel get right on the case. Of course even the most straightforward cases are never quite as simple as they seem in post-Shift Atlanta, and Kate and company find themselves back in the thick of danger with magical wards inexplicably disappearing, rogue vampires, renegade shifters, and the terrifying truth of Kaman’s device’s capabilities. Added to the drama of an impending doomsday, Kate also has to grapple with the troublesome antics of her ward Julie at boarding school and relationship/trust issues with Curran, especially after she learns more about her past.
Any fan of long-running series’ knows that sometimes, new entries fall short of the mark. They’re still good books, but are…well, filler. This is how I feel about Magic Slays. Sure it’s enjoyable, and it’s always cool to get more Kate, but ultimately this book does little to advance the exciting overall series arc (will she throw down with her pops already!? Yeesh), and features a throwaway central conflict.1 That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Magic Slays, because I did – this series is so great that even a filler novel is excellent. This latest adventure is fun, with more of Kate being a badass and getting into fights and learning to harness her magic. There is overall progression to the story arc, but it’s so frustratingly minimal that it felt as though Andrews is stretching out the central series conflict and saving all the good stuff for the next book or two. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First, the good. I loved that Kate and Curran are finally in a relationship and that they’ve accepted each other and have gotten over their baggage.2 This is also a scary point in UF land (or TV land) – because once the sexual tension is quenched, there’s the question of whether or not the couple will remain relevant and interesting. Thankfully, this relationship is handled wonderfully by the Ilona Andrews team, and Kate and Curran have a relationship that makes sense and is just as awesome as it was when they were in the courtship stage.
I also loved the revelations (albeit few) we get in this book regarding Kate’s family and past. We meet another of Kate’s relatives, and she’s forced into learning the heartbreaking truth of her mother and surrogate father. Also, Kate’s forced into a tough decision regarding her “kid” Julie, which in turn forces her to come even more to terms with her blood magic. This development has HUGE repercussions, and I am very excited to see what happens in the next book.
But, then there’s also the bad. Magic Slays gets off to a slow start, and I’m calling a spade a spade and saying that the central conflict for this novel was kinda lame. There’s a disappearing doctor/inventor and a Mysterious Device of DOOM, and both of these are rather easily dealt with when the main characters put their minds to it (again, ONE CHAPTER for the “epic battle”). The book is not poorly written, but given how awesome and high-stakes earlier conflicts have been, the Mysterious Device of DOOM and Disappearing Doctor are a little…well, insubstantial.3 In fact, the real catalyst for this plot was from a secondary conflict, involving a bitter wereminx out for blood. It’s the actions of this rogue shifter that propels the story and series at large along, and that doesn’t even happen until after the midway mark.
Criticisms said, the book ends on a dramatic note with the promise of all the Big Things I desperately want to see addressed in the next installment. Though Magic Slays is a bit of a series filler novel, it’s enjoyable enough and obviously essential reading for the Kate Daniels fan. I’ll be back for more.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From the prologue:
The ringing of the phone jerked me from my sleep. I clawed my eyes open and rolled off my bed. For some reason, someone had moved the floor several feet lower than I had expected, and I fell and crashed with a thud.
A blond head popped over the side of the bed and a familiar male voice asked, “Are you okay down there?”
Curran. The Beast Lord was in my bed. No, wait a minute, I didn’t have a bed, because my insane aunt had destroyed my apartment. I was mated to the Beast Lord, which meant I was in the Keep, in Curran’s rooms and in his bed. Our bed. Which was four feet high. Right.
“Would you like me to install one of those child playground slides for you?”
I flipped him off and picked up the phone. “Yes?”
“Good morning, Consort,” a female voice said.
Consort? That was new. Usually the shapeshifters called me Alpha or Lady, and occasionally Mate. Being called Mate ranked somewhere between drinking sour milk and getting a root canal on my list of Things I Hated, so most people had learned to avoid that one.
“I have Assistant Principal Parker on the line. He says it’s urgent.”
Julie. “I’ll take it.”
You can read the full excerpt online HERE.
Rating: 7 – Very Good
Buy the Book:
- I mean, honestly, the big bad threat was neutralized in less than a chapter. Not really inspiring there. ↩
- Mostly. There’s one point where I was terrified that Kate would do that whole backwards slide into paranoia thing, but thankfully that was averted. ↩
- Not to mention the fact that I’m not sure the worldbuilding/rules make sense in that final showdown – if anyone has read the book and wants to discuss in the comments, feel free! But mark with spoiler tags, please. ↩