Sunday, December 18, 2016

REVIEW | Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
Publication Year: 2013
Genre: Fantasy, Urban
Series: Kate Daniels #6
Awards: None
Format: Paperback
Narrator: NA

WHY?: This series just keeps getting better and better.

SYNOPSIS:  When shape-shifter children reach puberty and begin to be influenced by their animal side there is a chance that they will go Loup - the animal will take over and the child will become a violent murderous monster. It happens at a fairly high rate and in a relatively happy family-oriented pack like the one in Atlanta, Loupism is a constant heartbreak.  There is a cure but it is very rare and only produced by one European pack which hoards the stuff stingily.  When Curran is approached about receiving a barrel of this cure if he will arbitrate a dispute among three European packs, he can hardly say no though the assignment is not a safe one.  He, Kate and 10 others from the Atlanta pack set off to get the job done and secure the medicine but they are in for a surprise and the price is even steeper than they bargained for.  

Pack Road Trip!  And across the ocean to the Black Sea no less.  And loaded with all kinds of shape-shifter politics and dynamics PLUS throwing in Hugh D'Ambray. Just when I think, "This is the best book in the Kate Daniels series", another comes along to be better than the last.  This installment is particularly fun because it gets all the players outside of their regular setting and explores how other were-packs in the world work.  It makes you appreciate how civilized the Atlanta Pack is and how strong a leader they have in Curran.

Not only fun (there's a battle with were-dolphins for goodness' sake), this book was particularly funny and good with the one-liners.  All the books in the series have a good sense of humor but this one seemed particularly witty - perhaps it's just been too long since I read a Kate Daniels book?  Regardless, there was a lot of chortling.

It's not all fun and laughter however.  The stakes in this installment are particularly high and Andrews' throws seemingly everything and the kitchen sink at our heroine.  The way the author(s) (it's a husband wife team) are orchestrating the series  - building up to Kate's ultimate show-down with her dad  - is brilliantly paced and plotted.  This is a significant step along that road while also exploring the nuances of inter-pack politics and having a gripping plot of its own.  And as I mentioned in the synopsis - there is a big price to pay and it is heartbreaking.

Part of the drama of this installment is between Kate and Curran who are still the best couple ever.  Andrews should write a manual on how to develop a long-term romance and keep it interesting.  The situations they get put into would make the world's most well-adjusted couple question themselves and Kate and Curran actually handle it better than most.  I love how much they respect each other.  How both of them are so incredibly tough, confident and emotionally controlled except when it comes to each other.  And Curran includes himself as one of Kate's collection of misfits - SO sweet for the Beast Lord to think of himself like that. Sigh.... 

I also have to fan girl about Kate herself who is by far my favorite UF heroine.  She's such a complex and awesome character. In many ways the Pack is the perfect "family" for her, even though she's not a shapeshifter, and this book really hits that theme hard.  Kate is unsure about whether and/or where she belongs but the Pack works because of her affinity for violence and skill with killing.  Kate's thoughts after a fight with some were-dolphins while on board the ship, looking over the carnage:
What a waste of life.
And I'd loved it.  I loved every second of it: the blood, the rush, the heady satisfaction of striking ad seeing the cut or thrust find its target...Voron had succeeded.  I was raised and trained to be a killer, and nothing, not even happy, peaceful weeks in the Keep with the man I loved, could change that.  I'd come to terms with what I was a long time ago, but sometimes, like right now, looking over the deck strewn with corpses, I felt a quiet regret for the person I could've been.
At the same time she craves violence, she brims over with compassion which is so at odds with her bad assery that you wonder just how amazing she could have been if she hadn't been molded into a fighter and killer.  Also she is very clearly an introvert - from inclination and from practice  - and we see her loving the pack members but just wishing to be away by herself or holed up with Curran.  She points out several times early on that it is only for love of Curran that she has taken on the position of pack leader which causes her to almost constantly have to interact with others.  It's exhausting for her - much more so than a 2 hour workout.  I love her.  

Finally, these books are just cracking reads.  By chapter three I was sucked in and completely obsessed with reading this and only this until it was done.  I've actually been pacing myself in reading through the series because I like knowing I have one of these waiting for me when I need it.  They can cure many reading ills with their blend of action, mystery and romance and a plot that flies.  

FINAL VERDICT:  READ THEM ALL NOW! Ahem... I loved this installment in the brilliant Kate Daniels series which delves into pack politics and moves Kate's broader story further down the road. 4 out of 5 Stars!

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