In a kickback to Book Smuggler days of old, this week we cover some familiar ground – paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Today, Thea covers two of her all time favorite UF series’ with Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels books and Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series.
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: May 2010
Paperback: 384 pages
Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. 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 rose.
Kate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.
When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.
This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family…
Stand alone or series: Book 4 in the Kate Daniels series
How did I get this book: Review Copy from the publisher
Why did I read this book: I think the more apt question is, why did it take me SO LONG to read this book? Because I love this series, and Magic Strikes was one of my top 10 books of 2009, you’d think I’d have greedily scooped this book up and burned through it as soon as it was delivered to my mailbox. But…I didn’t. I waited. And waited. Not because I didn’t think Magic Bleeds would deliver, but because the time just wasn’t right. You know what I mean? I love these books so much and I read them in such marathon sessions that I had to be in the *perfect* frame of mind to truly enjoy the Kate Daniels experience. And finally, that time had come.
**THIS REVIEW CONTAINS UNAVOIDABLE SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST THREE BOOKS IN THE KATE DANIELS SERIES. If you have not read the first three books and wish to remain unspoiled, avert your virgin eyes now! You have been warned.**
Kate Daniels, former Mercenary and now a Knight of the Order sworn to protect humanity, finds herself up to her neck in crap, once again. First, she is stood up by Beast Lord Curan – a completely humiliating experience, having cooked a full meal for his Furriness and waiting around for him clad only in her underwear. For the tough, stubborn and emotionally closed-off Kate, rejection and heartbreak are uncomfortable, unfamiliar territory, for which she is ill-equipped to deal. So, instead, Kate chooses Curran-focused rage. Kate’s love life is the smallest of her problems, however, as an incredibly powerful, unknown player seizes Atlanta by the throat, wreaking violence and deadly, pandemic-scale plague in its wake. And then Kate learns the mysterious hooded figure with the ability to necromance non-vampires is a family relation, and who is very, very eager to catch up.
So, all cards on the table, how did Magic Bleeds stack up in the increasingly awesome Kate Daniels series? Well, folks, I’m happy to say that Kate’s latest adventure stacks up pretty damn well. From a pure storytelling and plotting standpoint, Magic Bleeds is a step down from Magic Strikes (but I don’t hold that against this book since its predecessor was pretty much perfect in the plotting department). This book does, however, provide the level of fast paced action and danger that we have come to expect from each Kate Daniels book, with the requisite amount of slayer steaming, power words spoken, intriguing new mythical pantheons explored, and, as the title portends, blood spilled. I loved the inclusion of Judaism and ancient Sumerian/Mesopotamian belief systems – one of the things I love the most about this series is its diversity. Though rooted in western European mythology (shapeshifters, vampires, etc), there is a healthy dose of other cultures too, and that is awesome in a genre filled with the typical western hegemony. Overall, the main story arc (which I have to believe will lead to an inevitable showdown between father Roland and Kate) is advanced a teeny-tiny step further, but for the most part Magic Bleeds is content to ratchet up the violence and action on a more self-contained basis. In terms of plotting, Magic Bleeds is very similar to Magic Burns, book 2 in the series. This installment lacks the epic scale and feel of Magic Strikes, and though the stakes are high, there’s a sense of familiarity with this book (e.g. I’ve come to expect Kate waking up in the Keep under the ministrations of good ol’ Doc Doolittle). Although this book doesn’t raise the bar, it doesn’t drop it, either.
While the plotting is solid, what makes Magic Bleeds stand on its own is its role as a watershed book in Kate and Curran’s relationship (and I suspect why the book has become a fast favorite for almost every fan of the series thus far). More than anything, this is a relationship book – and I mean this in the best possible way. For the fans that have been patiently waiting for Kate and Curran to actually talk out their issues and take a firm stance regarding their relationship, Magic Bleeds is *the* Kate Daniels equivalent of the holy grail. And you know what? I loved it. I ate it up. Theirs is a believable relationship precisely because these are two incredibly powerful and stubborn and messed up characters, and they both deserve some measure of happiness – and I love that this relationship has been building slowly, believably, over the course of three books before finally coming to fruition. And whoo-boy, the payoff is awesome. I’m not a romantic by any stretch of the imagination, but Kate and Curran are a couple that work beautifully, in their own flawed, fucked up way.
The verdict? While I still think Magic Strikes is the best book in the series overall, Magic Bleeds is truly excellent (and for the Kate and Curran fans, it is the book you have been waiting for).
Notable Quotes/Parts: From the Prologue:
No matter how carefully I patted the chopped apples into place, the top crust of my apple pie always looked like I’d tried to bury a dismembered body under it. My pies turned out ugly, but they tasted good. This particular pie was rapidly losing the last of its heat.
I surveyed the spread in my kitchen. Venison steaks, marinated in beer, lightly seasoned, sitting in a pan ready to be popped into the oven. I’d saved them for last—they wouldn’t take but ten minutes under the broiler. Homemade rolls, now cold. Corn on the cob, also cold. Baked potatoes, yep, very cold. I’d added some sautéed mushrooms and a salad just in case what I had wasn’t enough. The butter on the mushrooms was doing its best to congeal into a solid state. At least the salad was supposed to be cold.
I plucked a creased note from the table. Eight weeks ago, Curran, the Beast Lord of Atlanta, the lord and master of fifteen hundred shapeshifters, and my own personal psycho, had sat in the kitchen of my apartment in Atlanta and written out a menu on this piece of paper. I’d lost a bet to him, and according to the terms of our wager, I owed him one naked dinner. He’d added a disclaimer explaining that he’d settle for my wearing a bra and panties, since he wasn’t a complete beast—an assertion very open to debate.
He’d set a date, November 15, which was today. I knew this because I had checked the calendar three times already. I had called him at the Keep three weeks ago and set the place, my house near Savannah, and the time, 5 p.m. It was eight thirty now.
He’d said he couldn’t wait.
You can read the full excerpt HERE.
Additional Thoughts: The cover for the next title, Magic Slays has been released! Ok, so I abhor the covers for this series (sorry! Kate looks mighty busty on this cover, doesn’t she?), but I’m excited that the book has been assigned a cover, which means the book will be forthcoming very, very soon. Check it out:
Aaaaand, you can read a snippet HERE.
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Buy the Book: