Saturday, December 28, 2013

REVIEW: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Format: Hard Copy
Narrated By: NA
Original Publication Year: 2007
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels #1
Awards: None

I am not generally a big fan of Urban Fantasy. I tend towards being a historical fiction and traditional swashbuckling fantasy junkie. I don’t hate it, but I haven’t really found the book or series of books to suck me in and keep me invested. Basically I’m always on the lookout for some trustworthy recommendations and I found one by the blogger of The Fantasy CafĂ© blog who indicated that the Kate Daniels series was her favorite Urban Fantasy series. Since many of the other books she was recommending also looked pretty amazing, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Kate Daniels is a mercenary in a world where magic and technology wage a kind of war each surging and dying at different times causing chaos that most people have learned to deal with. The world is full of monsters and Kate’s job is to take on all kinds of jobs dealing with fixing magical messes. She is a bit enigmatic at the start and I was unsure what her deal is but she turns out to have very powerful magic that is dangerous to reveal too widely. Most of the time, she keeps her magical abilities almost entirely under wraps and relies on her ass kicking skills which are also pretty prodigious. She becomes personally involved with a murder investigation when her guardian, a powerful official in a magical institution called The Order, is brutally killed. The investigation leads her right into the middle of growing unease between The Pack (all the were-beasts and their leader The Beast Lord) and The People (a sketchy organization of necromancers who can control the dead, like vampires and zombies).

So the key thing for me is how I felt about Kate and I ended up really liking her. I understood all her motivations and really appreciated that she was super tough but still had vulnerabilities. She reminded me a lot of early Anita Blake before she turned into the most annoying and slutty character in fiction around book 6 or 7 of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Series. I LOVED and quickly devoured the first books in that series and this gave me a similar type of tingly feeling. So I am hoping that this character does not develop in the same spiral of suckage that Anita did. From the recommendations I’ve read, it sounds like it keeps getting better so that’s encouraging!

The world and society created is also really cool. There is a lot of interesting lore about the usual suspect supernatural creatures. Vampires are more mindless monster than sexy human and are used as errand boys by necromancers who can control their weak minds. The shape changers or were-beasts can devolve into a similar mindless monster if they do not exercise extreme discipline and live by a strict code.

The action scenes in the book are pretty full on and I didn’t find them to be boring or full of sequences of ka-pows. I could follow and picture what was happening and felt that it had bearing on the plot and was not just thrust in to liven things up. There is obviously a romance being set up between Kate and one of the other main characters but it’s taken slow and easy for which I am very grateful.

My one complaint, and it could be my faulty reading comprehension, is that I felt some of the plot elements were a bit forced. For example, at one point in the last ¼ of the book The Pack gets REALLY MAD at Kate about an incident and I couldn’t figure out how this incident was her fault. I didn’t really see what she did to offend and it felt like the emotion was manufactured because the author needed there to be a brief rift. This possible sloppiness was pretty easy to overlook however because I was having too much fun.

Final Verdict: Urban Fantasy that I actually liked a lot with a great well-rounded main heroine.3.5 Stars.

Are there any Urban Fantasy gurus out there?  If so, what would you recommend to someone who perhaps struggles with the genre?

View all my reviews

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