Kate Daniels: Magic Bites (2007), Magic Burns (2008), Magic Strikes (2009), "Magic Mourns" (2009) Magic Bleeds (2010), Magic Slays (2011), Magic Gifts (2011), "Magic Dreams" (2011), "Magic Gifts" (2011), Gunmetal Magic (2012), Magic Rises (2013), "Magic Steals" (2014), Magic Breaks (2014), Magic Shifts (2015)
Magic Bites (2007)
Kate Daniels works as a mercenary in a world that used to be ours, where technology is losing out to magic. Vampires are not romantic creatures (think the older vampires on Buffy) the vampire faction is held at bay by the shape shifters–neither group can take control, which is probably good for the humans. After discovering that her guardian has been killed, she volunteers to hunt for his killer–knowing that whatever managed to kill Greg–a trained knight-diviner–would almost certainly be more than a match for her.
I thoroughly enjoyed Magic Bites. Although Kate is quite powerful, it is made quite clear that much of her power has come through hard work and training, and that power doesn't necessarily keep her unscathed. She also makes mistakes--real mistakes with real consequences.
The writing was also good. I managed to devour the entire book in several hours, without every being thrown out of the story, even when I stopped to consider some of the differences between Kate's world and our own. The dialog was good, with plenty of sarcasm (my favorite), and the characters were distinctive
I was also fascinated by the world that Ilona Andrews created. Our present is the past in Kate's world, and the technology and science that we take for granted is slowly succumbing to magic--when magic flares up, technology ceases to work. I found it interesting to consider the idea that science and magic could not coexist in peace--that the suppression of one was required for the other to work. I also was fascinated by the idea that in Kate's world, much of modern architecture falls under the auspices of technology, and so the fall of magic would lead to the destruction of skyscrapers and other architecture that only came with the modern age.
Although lots of awful things happen, and the world Kate lives in is built upon the ashes and bones of our world, this book was not nearly as dark as one would expect. Although battling monsters and knowing that evil is real in the world, Kate still somehow manages to remain optimistic to a degree. Not that she's sunshine and flowers, but that despite the world around her, she has a basic attitude that the world and humanity will continue--despite everything.
Although the story arc--discovering who killed Greg and why--is completed, there are plenty of threads left uncompleted for the series to be continued. However, this was done very well, so there is a definite sense of closure to the ending. Which is something that I particularly like in a story. (And why I'm finding it harder and harder to read epic fantasy that goes on for thousands of pages.)
If you like supernatural fantasy, then you should enjoy Magic Bites. Strong herione, lots of danger and magic, and consequences for actions.
Published by Ace
Re-Read: February 2014
After finishing off the Inspector Salvo Montalbano series, I’ve been picking up books, trying to figure out what I was in the mood to read. There were several new releases that I quite liked, but they didn’t help me fall into what I wanted to read after.
At a loss, I decided to re-read Magic Bites. Yup. This was what I wanted to read.
When I read a book the first time, I have a terrible habit of speeding through, wanting to know what happens, and this skimming a LOT of details. The positive side of this is that upon re-reading the story, in many ways it’s like reading it for the first time, since there was so much I missed the first time around, so this was a pleasant surprise.
This first time I read this, I remember having a hard time with the world building, mostly because I’d glossed over a lot of details, and so didn’t have a clear idea in my mind as to what this world was like. This time, I picked up all the details I missed before, and it was lovely.
Kate lives in an Atlanta devastated by magic–magic reappeared in the world and when magic is in ascension, technology fails, so skyscrapers tumbled to the ground, leaving a ruin of all big cities, and leaving technology unreliable.
Magic could not be measured and explained in scientific terms, for magic grew through destroying the very natural principles that made science as people knew it possible.
If enough people believed something to be true, sometimes the magic obliged and made it true.
The theory is that since so many people are ignorant of the basic mechanical principles involved in making the phone work, to them it might just as well be magic.
It was all there the first time, I just missed it.
And I loved being reintroduced to the characters I’ve come to love, especially Saiman.
“(J)ust the basics. I can’t afford the fancy stuff.”
“I’m working pro bono.”
He grimaced. “Kate, that’s a horrible habit.”
I really love Saiman, and love it when Kate works with him (which makes some of the later books difficult, since Curran pretty much hates Saiman.)
But of course, the big introduction was Curran.
Diplomacy was never my strong suit and my patience had run dry. I crouched and called out, “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.”
I’d also like to point out how much I LOVE this cover. I really disliked the original cover–the lion bothered me, and Kate just didn’t look right. But this? This is marvelous.
So, this was a lovely re-read and hit the spot and I’ll be re-reading the rest of the series.
This is another series that I’ve fallen behind reading. Unlike Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series, these books are still coming, but I’m two books behind on my reading, and I’ve forgotten some major points, so I figure it’s time to re-read.
Magic returned to the world, destroying much technology as it came. It also returned creatures that were once believed to be myths and stories: Vampires. Shape-shifters. Mages.
Kate is a magic user and a fighter who belongs to the Mercenary guild. Her guardian is a member of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, a group to which Kate was encouraged to join, despite her issues with authority.
IIRC, the hardest thing about reading this book for the first time was the world-building. It is NOT a dystopia (I really don’t enjoy dystopias) but it is our world where things have gone really unexpectedly screwy, so although the foundations may seem familiar, there is much that is different.
If you haven’t read the series before, just be aware that the world-building might be a bit overwhelming, but it’s well-worth it to keep going.
Kate is a very interesting character.
Survival took precedence over fashion. Sure, I didn’t weigh a hundred and ten pounds, but my narrow waist let me bend and I could break a man’s neck with my kick.
She is very much of the kick-ass and take names school of fantasy, which I do love (although I also love other types of female heroines as well) and Kate does get hurt–although the magic makes her recovery much faster it seems.
The upside of having a magic sword was that its secretions liquefied the undead flesh. On the downside, the blade had to be fed at least once a month, or it would become too brittle and break.
So, good book, good series, enjoyable, read it.
Ilona Andrews gets some of THE WORST covers I have ever seen. See that cover up top? It is the reissue cover, and it is the exception that proves the rule. The cover to the right? That’s the original cover.
It’s HORRIBLE. Go ahead and zoom in to look at it some more. It’s like they weren’t even trying when the made this.
It’s like they had a high school intern mash together some random pictures in photoshop and that’s what they slapped on the book.
Ace regularly gives them abysmal covers, and I cannot understand why? The cover at the top of the post? That’s a good cover. They put some effort into it, and it gives you a good idea of what you’re getting: fantasy with a strong female heroine.
Most of their other titles? Those make me feel like someone at the publisher has it in for them, and WANTS to keep them from selling books.
I point this out because I am well-aware that the authors have zero control over their covers, but it is inexplicable that Ace keeps giving them terrible covers.
Of course, Avon is just as bad, but really, why can’t they get good covers?
Published by Ace
Magic Burns (2008)
The sequel to Magic Bites, Magic Burns continues the story of Kate Daniels, magic user, fighter, and no longer mercenary, but instead member of the Order, a group that helps keep the peace in a dangerous and uncertain world.
While taking a case as a mercenary, Kate stumbles upon a mystery that leads her to some of the more dangerous areas of post-flare Atlanta. During this reconnaissance she discovers a young girl searching from her mother who has disappeared. Having lots both of her parents, Kate immediately takes the girl under her wing and tries to protect her.
In addition to this, Kate’s job at the order is as liaison to the Pack, and she continues to have run-ins with Curran, who Kate firmly believes hates her. This was, in my opinion, one of the weakest parts of the story. It is obvious to the reader that Curran’s feelings for Kate are far from hatred, and so Kate’s discovery of the truth was somewhat frustrating to me. I simply had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t obvious to Kate even if it was obvious to us.
Lucky for me, the focus of the story was upon the search for the man who kept stealing the Pack’s maps, and the source of the undead creatures who kept attacking Kate. And we continue to learn about post-Flare Atlanta and the world that has developed when neither tech nor magic are stable. I still find this a fascinating idea, and very much enjoy the development of the world after the fall of tech.
As with the previous book, the story arc is concluded in the book. Although many threads remain unresolved, they are not left in such a way that they detract from the story or sit as cliffhangers. They are simply ideas and twists that will take a long time to resolve.
All in all, this is an excellent book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Although the romantic element between Kate and Curran was not my favorite part of the story, it wasn’t badly done and didn’t make me want to strange either character, so that was fine. But by and far the strongest part of the story is the development of the post flare world, and the mysteries that Kate must resolve.
Although you could read Magic Burns without having read Magic Bites the previous book is available, so you really should read it first.
Published by Ace
Re-Read: February 2014
We get more important introductions here: Julie, Andrea, Auntie B, Raphael… Most of the main characters have now entered the series. We’re still missing a lot about Kate’s history and background, but we get a few crumbs dropped.
But most of all we have lots of lots of snarky Kate.
“You’re not going to die?” she asked me very softly.
“Not right this minute.” And, of course, saying something like that usually resulted in immediate demise. I braced myself for a stray meteorite falling through the roof to crush my skull.
I also adored this description of Saiman:
“Is he a danger?” His tone had a slightly driven tint to it. His blood oath acting up again.
“I met him through the Guild, when I was a merc. On bodyguard detail. I saved his life and now he gives me a discount. Basically, he humors me and tries to get into my pants. He’s harmless.”
Yup. Harmless. (snicker)
I mentioned this is where we first meet Auntie B, right?
“Please tell me there is coffee.”
Aunt B grimaced. “They’re already crazy. If I let them have coffee, they’d be bouncing off the walls. We have herbal tea.”
Oh. Perhaps I’m a bouda. That might explain the reaction to caffeine. And perhaps some of the craziness. But not the other stuff.
And the random tidbit learned:
I almost whistled, except that my Russian father would have risen from his grave and smacked me for whistling indoors.
Makes me feel a little better about not being able to whistle.
Just a little.
And, I’m sorry, but I really hate this cover. I just looks cheap. Kate looks like a Photoshop creature holding a light saber. Just—no.
If you had not read the previous book, you could easily jump in here and be fine. Not so for some of the later books, but here. we’re still meeting everyone and learning how they tick. The Big Stuff comes a bit later.
A magic flare is coming, and everyone from the lowliest witch to gods is looking to take advantage of the increased magic.
Kate, as an associate of The Order, is being run ragged, but when she comes upon a lost girl in search of her mother, she takes the young teen with her, promising to keep her safe.
Thus we meet Julie.
“Why did you save me?”
He shrugged. “I picked up the phone and there was a hysterical child on the other end, crying that you were dying, and she was all alone, and the undead were coming. I thought it might be an interesting conclusion to a boring evening.”
Bullshit. He came because of Julie. Shapeshifters suffered from devastating child mortality, with half their children being born dead and another quarter being killed because they went loup at puberty. Like all shapeshifters, Curran cherished children and he also hated vampires. He probably figured he would kill two birds with one stone: save Julie and stick it to the People.
One of my favorite characters from this book is Bran.
“She always has a hound with her.” I frowned.
“No. A man. A scoundrel. A thief and a brigand.”
I almost snapped my fingers. “Tall, dark, carries a bow, disappears into mist, can’t keep his hands to himself?”
The mother nodded to me with a smile. “Yes.”
“I’ve seen him.”
She smiled wider. “I gathered.”
But then I’m fond of tricksters, which is why I like Samain so much.
And we finally meet Aunt B, head of the Boudas and mother of Raphael. I also like both of them very much.
Not that I don’t appreciate Kate. After all, we have the same frame of ethics.
“For me, evil is striving to an end without regard for the means.”
The world building has settled down a bit in this book, and we slowly learn more about Kate.
And HATE this cover. As noted previously, Ace does a miserable job with these covers.
Published by Ace
Magic Strikes (2009)
But when she goes to investigate the scene of the death of a shapeshifter, things get difficult and her relationship with the Pack Leader Curran becomes even more complex.
So finally(!) we get to learn a little more about Kate’s past and why she is so secretive about her past and her life and always burns anything that has her blood. Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder and harder for Kate to hide her blood–and her past.
I really really really like Kate. Despite the powers that were gifted her by her blood, she works hard to maintain her skills, and we learn precisely how hard she had to work to gain those skills. And the powers given by her blood are no easy gift either, and require work and suffering on her part.
But even more I am fascinated by the world in which Kate lives: a world where magic and technology take turns being dominant, and where the resurgence of magic completely destroyed the world as we know it. We are also starting to see more of the political structure of this new world, and it’s both frightening and fascinating. Even though this is the third book in the series, there is more to discover about Kate’s world with every book.
I highly recommend the Kate Daniels series. Could you read Magic Strikes without having read the previous books? For the story, yes. However, as Kate’s history and background are slowly being uncovered over the course of the series, I would recommend going back to the start of the series to learn about Kate’s powers and abilities as the series unfolds.
Published by Ace
Re-Read: February 2014
This book also has a scene that stuck with me, and sort of bothered me, but that’s something else entirely.
Kate is continuing to work for the Order, but spending more and more time with the Pack, partialy because her Friend of the Pack status means Order cases to do with the Pack come to her, and partially because of her friendships with Pack members.
A whole bunch of Significant Things happen in this book.
First, Derek goes through a major event that changes him for the rest of the series (and changes how he works outside the Pack). Second, we learn precisely what Saiman is. Third, we learn precisely what Kate is and why she’s been hiding. And there’s the change in the relationship between Kate and Curran from adversarial to… something else.
But of course the center of the book is Kate, and her snark.
Truly, your egotism is like the Universe— ever expanding.”
I also loved this peek into Jim’s psyche:
THE KITCHEN CABINETS CONTAINED WOODEN jars identified by handwritten adhesive labels. The jar labeled SUGAR had flour in it. The jar labeled FLOUR held an enormous amount of chili powder, which made me sneeze. The jar labeled CHILI PEPPER contained a Smith & Wesson M& P 45.
I opened the first jar and looked inside. Coffee. The label said BORAX. “What’s up with the labels?”
(Female shapeshifter) shrugged. “You’re in the house of a cat whose job is to spy. He thinks he’s clever.
Now, here’s the thing that bothers me. Kate always cleans up and burns her blood. Always. But towards the end of her book, we’re explicitly told she’s lying in a puddle of her own blood.
I lay still, inhaling the vapors rising from my blood. My vision blurred, clearing for a few moments, then dissolved back into a foggy mess. The only reality that remained was the steady pain in my stomach, the blood spread out before me, and my silent chants.
So, giant puddle of blood. When they leave, it doesn’t seem like Kate’s blood has been cleaned up/destroyed, and as they leave, the one man who should very well know what Kate’s blood is, entering the room.
I’ve read the passage several times, and it reads to me as if Kate left her blood there. It’s been five years since I first read the book, and that scene has gnawed at me since.
However, that’s not something that ruined the book for me–not even close. So many other important things happened, this is just a small thing. This is a very good book, and where the story starts to take off.
I believe you could start here without having read the previous two books, but this book is a turning point, and so many events in later books hinge upon things that happen here.
So, don’t skip this book.
And this is another cover that I really REALLY don’t like. I believe what bothers me is that the cover looks cheap and cheesy, but the contents are anything but.
This book opens with one of my favorite scenes. An old woman is atop a telephone pole, and the Order is called to get her down.
I trotted into the dark entrance to the apartment, where five members of the McSweeney family crouched in the gloom. “Tell me again why you can’t come out and help me?”
Robert McSweeney, a middle-aged, dark-eyed man with thinning brown hair, shook his head. “Mom thinks we don’t know she’s a banshee.”
I love everything that is unsaid in that scene.
This is the story where we learn a lot about Saiman (who I have mentioned before is one of my favorite characters (I sometimes think that I prefer the secondary characters over the primary in this series)). We learn what Saiman is, which explains a great deal about why is is the way he is.
“Give me an opportunity to fail,” Saiman said. “I promise that my corpse won’t interrupt your ‘I told you so’ speech.”
We also spend a good deal of time with Jim; he’s another secondary character I particularly like.
His voice was melodious and smooth. He never sang, but you knew he could, and if he decided to do it, women would be hurling themselves into his path.
She surveyed Jim and turned to me. “Congratulations, love. You traded up. Does he treat you well?”
“He’s a teddy bear,” I said.
Teddy bear looked like he was suffering from murder withdrawal.
We of course also learn more about Kate, which brings me to the bit that has always bothered me about this book. Kate always burns all traces of her blood, for fear that someone will figure out what she is.
At the end of the book, Kate finds herself in a cage, lying in a pool of her own blood–blood she is learning to control.
I’ve reread these pages multiple times, and it reads like Kate left a pool of her blood in the bottom of the cage when Curran rescues her, and as Hugh d’Ambray is fighting his way towards them.
Yes, the castle crashes, but it doesn’t seem like that would be enough to destroy her blood before Hugh came upon it.
And again, a terrible, horrible, awful cover from Ace.
Published by Ace
"Magic Mourns" (2009) originally published in Must Love Hellhounds
This story is set after Magic Strikes and is Andrea and Raphael’s story. Andrea is beastkin–the child of a bouda (female werehyena) and a hyenawere.
1. A hyenawere (or anything-were) is an animal that contracted the Lyc virus and shifted into a human. Such creatures are typically killed by human shape shifters, but not always (we met one in the first Kate book). 2. I keep parsing hyenawere as hyen-aware. Hyena awareness week?
Andrea is hiding her status both from the Pack, and from the Order for which she works. She hides from the Pack because she was abused by the pack into which she was born, and she hides from the Order, because they would throw her out if they discovered what she was.
Andrea is also sitting in for Kate, who is recovering from the events of Magic Strikes, and I found mention of those events, and the spin being put out about those events, quite interesting.
“Is it true she broke a red sword during the Midnight Games by impaling herself on it?”
An alarm blared in my head. “I don’t remember it quite that way,” I lied. “As I recall, a member of the opposing team meant to strike with the sword. Kate interrupted his strike, and when he tried to free the blade, he cut himself on it. The blood from his hand shattered the sword.”
I really don’t see Ghastek believing that, but I do see him accepting it and moving on, hoping to research the issue later.
Kate makes a couple of brief appearances, and there is mention of events that will occur in the following book. (See: apple pie) But focus of the story is how Andrea and Raphael finally get together, and the mystery of the giant house-sized dog.
I quite enjoyed this story.
Re-Read: March 2017
This is Andrea and Raphael’s story–well, the first part of it anyway. (The second part is the book Gunmetal Magic)
Andrea is attempting to cover for Kate while she is recovering from events in Magic Strikes. Unfortunately, the people who call Kate don’t trust anyone else, and Ted won’t give Andrea any other cases.
“Would you say the shapeshifter was in distress?”
“Hell yeah, he was in distress. His tail was on fire.”
“He ran like his tail was on fire?”
“No, his tail was on fire. Like a big, furry candle on his ass.”
I like Andrea–I like how she survived a horrible past and I like her loyalty–even if the later is greatly misplaced at times.
Nobody, not human, not shapeshifter, not even my mother had ever told me that the beast form was beautiful. Inside me, the human me put her hands on her face and cried.
But it’s also amusing (of course).
I walked into the Order’s office. A group of knights standing in the hallway turned at my approach: Mauro, the huge Samoan knight; Tobias, as usual dapper; and Gene, the seasoned former Georgia Bureau of Investigations detective. They looked at me. The conversation died.
My clothes were torn and bloody. Soot stained my skin. My hair stuck out in clumps caked with dirt and blood. The reek of a dead cat emanated from me in a foul cloud.
I walked past them into the armory, opened the glass case, took Boom Baby out, grabbed a box of Silver Hawk cartridges, and walked out.
Nobody said a thing.
Published by Berkley
Magic Bleeds (2010)
Then heading back to work after a long day, she’s called to check out an emergency, and things go downhill from there. There seems to be a rogue mage loose in the city spreading chaos and pestilence, and the odds of stopping this monster don’t seem good. To make it worse, more and more people are learning about Kate’s secret, and that makes her very very nervous.
The one thing I don’t like about this story is there is boinking. Bleh. It’s not badly done, and you knew it was coming, but it’s never my favorite parts of these types of stories.
Otherwise, I continue to like Kate, I like how she works, I like that she takes damage in her fights, and I like that she knows her limits, but doesn’t care and does what needs to be done anyway.
I was also very pleased with the ending. Yes, it was a bit heavy handed getting there–you knew events were coming, but to have them all happen at once seemed a bit much–but it was very much where the story needed to go.
All in all, recommended if you’ve been reading the series so far. If you aren’t, I recommend going back and not beginning the series here. There are lots of revelations and discoveries, most of which will make more sense if you know at least part of the backstory and are comfortable with the world in which Kate lives.
Published by Ace
Re-Read: February 2014
First, I really appreciate how Kate actually thinks and considers before taking action. She doesn’t always so manages when it’s important.
If Curran and I got into it, our fight wouldn’t be seen as a conflict between two individuals, but as the Beast Lord’s assault on an Order representative.
I still think Curran was a dick here, but, it could have been worse.
This is also the book where Kate gets her dog.
I took the dog to the medtechs to get cleared of the plague— he passed with flying colors. They drew some blood for further analysis and advised me that he had fleas and smelled bad, just in case I’d failed to notice.
I also love the process of attempting to name The Dog.
“Have you thought of what to name him?” Mauro asked.
“How about Erik? After the Phantom of the Opera.”
“You should name him Fezzik,” Andrea said.
“Inconceivable,” I told her.
Too bad, because then she could have said, “Rip his arms off” and someone could have said “Oh, you mean this gate key!” and my day would have been made.
Weirdly, the dog one was of the things that I glossed over when I sped read through this the first time. The second thing was the argument between Andrea and Raphael. Silly of me, as both of those events were important.
Another thing of note, I was strongly reminded of Sabriel and Mogget when I read this passage.
The vampire gagged. The muscles of its neck constricted, widened, constricted again, and it disgorged a six-inch-long metal cylinder onto my desk. The bloodsucker grasped it, twisted the cylinder’s halves apart, and retrieved a roll of papers.
That is TOTALLY Mogget.
I still have issues with the changes in Kate’s relationship with Saiman. She thought him harmless initially, but after he proved to be not so, something changed and he became a friendly adversary rather than an almost friend. That just bugs me.
Saiman dealt in information and the price of a secret was inversely related to the number of people who knew it. The fewer people possessed the information, the more valuable it became. I knew this, because Saiman had patiently explained it for my benefit.
Yes, he’s a trickster, but that doesn’t mean he’s unreliable (as Saiman himself points out). And yes, Saiman did some really stupid shit, I don’t think it was unjustified.
Essentially, I really adore Saiman (as I end up adoring most trickster figures) so I always want to read more about him, and this change in his relationship with Kate is no good for that.
Also, lots and lots and lots of important stuff here. Lots and lots. And lots of passage I ended up going back and re-reading, because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything this time.
Also: I really hate this cover. It’s not my least favorite, but I really don’t like it.
ADDENDUM the First:
On further thought, I have some issues. Spoilers, but this book has already been out for four years, so, caveat emptor.
How does Roland NOT know about Kate? Erra recognized her almost immediately, and a not insignificant amount of time passed between her recognition of Kate and her death. She didn’t contact her brother during that time period and say, “Hey, met your daughter; Planning on killing her. You okay with that?”
Then there’s Hugh, who has a not insignificant amount of evidence that Kate is Roland’s daughter. I get that he doesn’t want to cry wold, but come on. She’s the right age, was pretty obviously trained by Vorlon, has power words, and is quite obviously of the right blood (see also my qualms from the last story) so why hasn’t he mentioned to Roland that he has a possible contender for that long lost daughter he wants to kill? If Kate looks very much like her aunt, then wouldn’t a simple picture suffice to confirm her identity?
And I really don’t get why Hugh would go out of his way to protect Kate from Roland’s sister. That seems like a MUCH bigger mistake than a false positive on identification. “Your sister is dead, and I was protecting her murderer. Sorry ’bout that.” That seems like a really big, really unforgivable ‘Oops’.
Don’t get me wrong, I still really like the story, but I have problems with some of the logic behind the actions people take.
Book four finds Kate waiting for Curran, having made him dinner as he specified–except he doesn’t show up.
While she’s tending to her broken heart, she gets called to deal with what sounds like a bar fight that got out of hand.
Who the hell would attack the Steel Horse anyway? What was the thinking behind that? “Here is a bar full of psychotic killers who grow giant claws and people who pilot the undead for a living. I think I’ll go wreck the place.” Sound reasoning there.
Kate also manages to pickup a stray dog.
Unfortunately, Atlanta has bigger problems, what with a plague and a bunch of rogue mages.
“At six oh-eight a.m. two men wearing ragged trench coats approached the Casino. The shorter of the men burst into flames.”
I paused with the pen in my hand. “He burst into flames?”
“He became engulfed in fire.”
“Was his buddy made out of orange rocks and did he at any point yell, ‘It’s clobbering time’?”
We also get Andrea and Raphael pairing up, Kate and Curran working out their difference, and the appearance of Kate’s aunt. No good comes of that last bit.
“You want to stay away from religion. Once you bring prayers and worship into it, your troops start thinking you’re a god. Faith has power during magic. You begin getting urges that aren’t your own.”
And of course Saiman, who I adore and Kate hates.
I looked at Saiman. “How do you decide if someone is human?”
He braided his long, slender fingers on his bent knee. “I don’t. It’s not up to me to assess someone’s humanity. Being human in our world is synonymous with being included into the framework of society. Humanity entitles one to certain rights and privileges, but also implies voluntary acceptance of laws and rules of conduct. It transcends mere biology. It’s a choice and therefore belongs solely to the individual. In essence, if a person feels they are human, then they are.”
And I did especially like the bit in the temple.
Mezuzot, verses from the Torah, written by a qualified scribe and protected by pewter cases, hung along the perimeter of the Temple wall. The wall itself supported so many angelic names, magic squares, and holy names, it looked as if a talismanic encyclopedia had thrown up on it.
And thus ends book four.
Published by Ace
“A Questionable Client” originally published in Dark and Stormy Knights (2010)
“What do you do for a living, Saiman?”
“I collect information and use it to further my interests.”
As I remain a fan of Saiman, I quite enjoyed this story.
“The value of the information increase with its exclusivity.”
If you remember that, then you know everything you need to, to deal with Saiman.
Well, that and the fact he’s a sexual deviant. But since he’s a trickster, that goes with the territory.
Magic Slays (2011)
Which often means cliff hanger endings.
And I hate cliff hanger endings.
But so far so good.
Kate and Curran are (sort of) luxuriating in wedded bliss, although there continue to be fights about Kate’s work and the danger she places herself in. Especially when the Red Guard hires for a case that has ugly and dangerous written all over.
Things I really liked: Andrea is back. Do I like what happened to her? No. Is what happened reasonable. Very much so. Is her reaction realistic? Even more so.
Kate and Curran’s relationship. They are still working out their relationship and how two powerful individuals are going to compromise. There are fights, and there are misunderstandings, but within the context of their histories and their personalities, these are reasonable and expected things, and I like the balance of reality with the HEA, and the fact that they recognize the need to talk about their problems like grown-ups. Kudos for having them act (mostly) like grown-ups.
Kate’s recognition that she desperately needs to be trained. She is strong, but there is no way she’ll be able to confront her father without a LOT more hard work. So I was glad to see that appear finally–and in a very interesting way, at that.
Was there anything I didn’t particularly like? Well, I had a really hard time groking the invention, and not just how it worked, but how it could permanently do what it did. I also am not sure how I feel about the resolution of the situation with Julie. But I need to think about it more to decide if I believe it or not.
But all in all, it was another very good entry into the series.
Can you start the series here? Possibly, but I don’t recommend it, not just because of the world building in previous volumes, but also because of the character building, and the relationships between those characters. That’s something that’s hard to get entering this far in the series.
Whereas going back and starting at the beginning would be quite the rewarding experience.
Published by Ace
Re-Read: February 2014
And here we are at book five. I’m thinking I may stop here for now. Book six came out relatively recently, and it wasn’t a particular favorite. But I have hunted down all the Kate Daniels short stories I can find, so I’ve got a little more Kate left.
Kate has agreed to be Curran’s mate, and unfortunately, that means taking him AND the Pack. Lots of meetings and other frustrating stuff.
Plus, Andrea has returned from her long absence. Plus, Julie has decided she hates boarding school. Plus, Auntie B has decided to foist one of her problems off on Kate. Plus, Kate’s business isn’t making any more, and if it goes under, she’ll loose that bit of independence from the Pack.
This book had lots of little tidbits that stuck with me:
I got a dry rag and wiped up the peroxide. The stain didn’t look too bad now. Still, once blood stained something, it stayed there forever, even if you could no longer see it.
I think there are a lot of things that leave marks even after you’ve scrubbed clean.
And the always true:
There is no law against being an asshole.
That’s an unfortunate truth, and one everyone should strive to remember.
And there was a lot of Russian folklore, which I really do love.
Evdokia raised the teakettle and refilled my cup. “Sugar?”
“No, thank you.”
“You should have some. I’m about to speak ill of the dead. Sugar helps with the bitter.”
For me, that’s right up there with, “the morning is always wiser than the evening” which is something I try to keep in mind.
But that’s not as good as having Baba Yaga and Chernobog and Belobog. And Baba Yaga’s hut. I love Baba Yaga’s hut.
This is another book I really liked, where there is a good mystery, Kate and Curran talk out their problems rather than creating Misunderstandings (mostly) and the boinking bits can easily be skipped to get back to the fighting. (I don’t even want to talk about the cover.)
And now, I have some short stories to read.
Book five. Kate is no longer a member of the order, but is now running her own investigative agency. Not that she has any cases, but it’s her agency.
After having disappeared for two months, Andrea returns–a very different woman now that she has been kicked out of the order and lost everything that held her together.
“Shane can’t hold your property.”
“I know that. I’m still pissed off. It’s your duty as my best friend to be outraged with me.”
“I’m outraged!” I snarled. “That bastard!”
“Thank you,” Andrea said.
On top of that, something is eating wards and causing navigators to lose control of their vampires.
I’d actually forgotten about the scene where Curran gets his revenge upon Saiman. I’m glad that Kate took steps, because I quite like Saiman, and I’d not like it if he disappeared.
I also like Ghastek, but I recognize that I’m in the minority there. Like Saiman, Ghastek is what he seems–a man who wants power and is going to use every ounce of his talent to achive that.
He’s also quite savvy.
“Do you think you would have been burned at the stake in the sixteenth century?”
“Because you’re not a woman?”
“Being a woman made little difference. Most witches burned in Iceland and Finland were men, for example. No, I wouldn’t have been burned, because I’m not poor.”
Also: We meet Ascanio, Julie is infected with Lyc-V, and Evdokia the Russian witch tells Kate many things about her past.
And now onto book six. At least this is the last of the really awfully terrible covers.
Published by Ace
Apparently, I didn’t read all the stories in the anthology this was originally in, and so I never wrote a review.
So, this first appeared in the anthology, Hexed, which I have but seemingly only read one story out of the four.
Dali is a very rare White Were-Tiger. Jim, is alpha of Clan Cat and security chief for Atlanta’s Pack leader Curran. If you’re read any of the Kate Daniels books, you’re familiar with Jim. Dali, however, is something of an anomaly among shape shifters. She’s small, she’s weak, and she can’t see without thick glasses. She’s also a magic user–a trait that is almost as rare as her were-shape.
Dali has been in love with Jim for awhile, but because she is small and weak and feels she contributes little to the pack, she believes she has no chance with Jim and so both worships him from afar and goes out of her way to disobey him.
I love the Ilona Andrews short stories set in Kate Daniels’ world, and this is no exception.
Published by Ace
Re-Read: February 2014
This is set between Magic Dreams and Magic Slays. Dali has been in love with Jim for awhile, but he is the Alpha of Clan Cat, and she’s small, mostly blind, weak, and a vegetarian (who’s heard of a vegetarian cat?), so she doesn’t see what he would possibly see in her. But she’s also brave (you’d have to be brave to be nearly blind and still race cars) and a rarity in a shape-shifter: a magic user.
But, she also has an Indonesian mother, which can be… frustrating.
My mother’s eyes sparked. Oh no.
She leaned over and patted Jim’s hand. “That is so nice. My daughter is so smart. Always respectful and well-behaved. Never and trouble and she does as she is told.”
“You don’t say,” Jim murmured.
“Doesn’t spend a lot of money. Two doctor degrees. Little problem with her eyes, but that’s her father’s side of the family.
Dali wrecks her car (again) and when she comes home she finds Jim. Expecting him to chew her out, she instead finds him asleep. He’s discovered a magical problem and wants her to help him discover what it is. Unfortunately, the problem has now extended to Jim.
There are also some lovely bits about magical theory.
Magic tended to stick to nationality and region. People generated magic, and their superstitions and beliefs channeled it. If enough people believed that a certain creature existed and, worse, took precautions against it, eventually the magic birthed it into being.
That’s fascinating and also makes me glad magic isn’t real. Because I’d hate for some of the things we’ve imagined to become real.
This was a lovely story, and I enjoy seeing Kate from the perspective of those around her.
Re-Read: March 2017
Dali Harimau shifts into a white tiger, and thus is part of Clan Cat, under alpha Jim Shrapshire.
For most people, turning into a 700 pound white tiger would put them at the top of the heap, but Dali–Dali is different. She is tiny, she is a vegetarian (her tiger self eats grass), her shifting comes as much from her faith as from the Lyc-V virus, so she is almost blind in human form and her tiger takes several minutes to come to her senses when she shifts, and on top of all of that she is a magic user–part of her heritage but not something often found in shape-shifters.
So to feel powerful Dali races cars. Because she’s almost blind, she wrecks–a lot–which drives both Curran and Jim crazy.
When Jim shows up at her house, she assumes its because she’s been racing and wrecked again, but instead it’s because something magically bad has happened, and she’s a magic user who might be able to help.
I really like Dali–and the trouble she gets herself into.
And I love Dali’s machinations to keep Jim awake after he becomes cursed by the magic.
If you deny a cat information, it will nag at him. If the cat happens to be a spymaster, it will drive him completely crazy
That’s awesome and evil.
This may be one of my favorite off-short short stories.
Published by Berkley
"Magic Gifts" (2011)
For Christmas, the husband and wife team of Ilona Andrews made a novella, Magic Gifts, available for download from the website for a limited time. I of course downloaded it and once I figured out how to move it to my Kindle, read it.
Magic Gifts is a Kate Daniels novella. Kate and Andrea are still trying to get their business, “Cutting Edge Investigations”, off the ground. Unfortunately for them, they are only getting the cases that no one else wants.
After a particularly rough (and disgusting) day, Curran offers to take Kate out to dinner. Unfortunately, things never go as planned.
Adding to Kate’s problems, Jim is hounding her about dealing with the Mercenary Guild. (Kate’s aunt killed the head of the guild, and they’ve lacked a leader ever since.)
This is quite a long story, for a free novella. Some residual issues (ie the Mercenary Guild) are tied up and we meet some new creatures inhabiting the areal. The only thing that was not resolved was Andrea’s problems. However, she had those issues coming into the story, so their lack of resolution wasn’t an issue for me.
The story is no longer available for free download, but I’m sure that at some point in the future it will be available for purchase.
Re-Read: February 2014
Originally published on their website, as a gift to their fans. Also published in Gunmetal Magic (2011)
Kate and Curran want to have a nice dinner date. Unfortunately, their dinner is interrupted by murder and vampires (lucky for the other patrons that Kate and Curran were there).
We also get to spend some time with the Norse Heritage Foundation.
“They don’t permit any technology past fourteenth century AD in their territory. You’ll have to ride a horse.”
But the Norse Heritage Foundation does have it’s positives:
Norse Heritage took everyone in. Viking wasn’t a nationality – it was the way of life. As long as you thought you were a Viking, you had a place at their table.
Since there are vampires, we get to spend time with Ghastek, who I find amusing, but nowhere near as fun as Saiman.
“Excellent.” He put emphasis in the x and the word came out slightly sibilant.
“You need a fluffy white cat. That way you can stroke it when you say things like that.”
It’s fun to see Ghastek get his comeuppance, but we also see an essential part of Kate’s nature–her willing to put her own life on the line to protect a child.
This story takes place at the same time as Gunmetal Magic and are Kate’s events (and the same events as seen through Kate’s eyes).
Andrea is working for Cutting Edge Investigations–Kate’s company. They also have two interns: Ascanio–the troublesome teen bouda, and Derek, the werewolf who is moving on from bodyguard duty.
After an extremely messy day (involving blood and other substance) Curran offers to take Kate out to dinner–something they never get to do. Unfortunately, the romantic dinner is interrupted when two vampires are set loose when one puts on a magical necklace that kills her
When the dead girl’s family arrives, the mother puts the necklace on her son and then takes her husband and leaves.
Kate and Curran take the boy and then start to tear the city apart to try and find out how to keep the collar from killing the boy.
This involves going to the Norse Heritage Foundation, which is amusing.
And then dealing with an undead dwarf, and seeing Ghastek get his comeuppance.
We also get the situation with the Mercenary Guild resolved–they’ve been without a head since Solomon Red was killed by Kate’s aunt, and since the Pack has a 20% interest, Kate is designated as the person to break the tie.
Reading this short story and then Gunmetal Magic it’s easy to see that this story is Kate’s portion of that book that was excised from Andrea’s book.
Published by the authors
Gunmetal Magic (2012)
This book is set in Kate’s world, and Kate (of course) make appearances, but this is the story of Andrea and Raphael. Andrea has been outed as a shapeshifter and forced out the Order, which has been her entire life. As a shapeshifter she is required by Pack Laws to join the local Bouda Clan, but she has been in hiding for so long, and was treated so badly by her first clan, she has staunchly refused to publicly out herself.
Rahpael is the son of Aunt B, the alpha of Clan Bouda, and the (according to Andrea) spoiled prince of the clan. He and Andrea mated, but circumstances (which occurred in one of the Kate Daniels books) separated them, and they haven’t spoken since.
Things don’t go well from there.
I really enjoyed this–Andrea has always been one of the central characters in the Kate books, and I enjoyed spending time with her. I also think that her story needed to be told on its own, from her point of view–it was too complex to be a sideline of a Kate story, or even a short story or novella. (There are several excellent short stories out there, and most of them are available as downloads. Go get them and read them.)
I also loved the cover. I have generally hated the covers in the Kate Daniels books, but I think this cover was perfect.
Published by Ace
Re-Read: February 2014
And now I reach the conclusion of my binge reading of Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels (& World) series. We end with Andrea’s book: how Andrea puts herself back together after being thrown out of the Order. Except there’s lots of monster fighting and shooting (this is Andrea) so it’s not the supernatural equivalent of Eat Pray Love.
In case you were worried it might be.
Of course, she also has to spend time around the office with Kate’s latest juvenile delinquent, Ascanio.
Ave, Andrea! Ianitori te salutant!
…Kate was forcing Ascanio and Julie, her ward, to learn Latin, because a lot of magic texts were written in it and apparently it was an essential part of their education.
Obviously, Kate is doing a pretty good job, if he can come up with that off-the-cuff.
But this remains post-shift Atlanta, and it’s not a safe place.
To the right, a large sign nailed to an old telephone post shouted DANGER written in huge red letters. Underneath in crisp black letters was written:
IM-1: Infections Magic Area
Do Not Enter
Authorized Personnel Only
A second smaller sign under the first one, written on a piece of plastic with permanent marker, read:
Keep out, stupid.
That’s actually a really fascinating area, the Glass Menagerie. I particularly appreciate Andrea’s reaction(s) to the creatures in that area.
There’s also another fascinating idea, that I think would be quite likely, in the world they inhabit.
(Andrea is explaining the Internet to Ascanio)
“Well, when it became obvious that magic as going to wreck the computer networks, people tried to preserve portions of the Internet. They took snapshots of their servers and sent the data to a central database at the Library of Congress. This project became known as the Library of Alexandria, because in ancient times Alexandria’s library was said to contain all human knowledge, before some jackass burned it to the ground.”
I like the idea that if civilization crashes, humans would work to salvage information.
We also get to spend some time with Roman, the Dark Volhv. Who is not what he seems on the surface.
There was something so joyous about Roman. It was as if part of his life was so bleak and dark that he felt the need to live the rest of it to is fullest, squeezing every bit of fun and happiness out of it.
Yeah, I get that. I really get that.
But, as I said, this is Andrea’s story, and since this is also a romance, you know she and Raphael are going to work things out in the en. But it’s nice to see how they get there, and how Andrea comes to terms with the changes in her life that followed leaving the Order.
And it’s good, because I really like Andrea, and it’s good to see her end up happy.
Re-Read: January 2015
Started the audio version and just couldn’t get into it, so switched over the the ebook version.
I read it a little slower this time, and overall it was a good book, however, this time around I found myself a little disappointed in the ending. It seemed just too much of a Big Hero ending, and I didn’t quite see the need for things happening the way they did.
That said, I still love Andrea.
Andrea is working with Kate at Cutting Edge Investigations, and trying to avoid Raphael–the bouda who was her mate and who believes she rejected him and everything he believes in for the Order–an organization that kicked her out when it discovered she was a shape-shifter.
“Barabas, open the damn door,” Raphael snarled.
Barabas slid the shutter closed. “Do you want me to let him in?”
“I’m thinking about it.”
Barabas slid the shutter open. “She’s thinking about it.”
“Andrea,” Raphael called. “Let me in.”
“The last time I saw you two together, you were so happy,” Barabas said. “Just out of curiosity, Raphael, how the hell did you manage to fuck that up?”
I’m actually delighted we get to spend more time with Barabas.
When four shape-shifters are discovered dead at one of Raphael’s worksites, Jim (head of Pack security) asks Andrea to look into it, since Kate is in the middle of something else.
“I can’t ask the Consort to look into it, because A) she and Curran are working on something else and B) when the Consort gets involved, half of the world blows up.”
I actually quite like their intern, who they are supposed to redeem so the Pack doesn’t kill him for insubordinatino and failure to follow the rules.
“Ave, Andrea! Ianitori te salutant!”
Hail, Andrea, those who janitor salute you.
Kate was forcing Ascanio and Julie, her ward, to learn Latin, because a lot of historical magical texts were written in it and apparently it was an essential part of their education. Since the lessons were conducted in the office during our copious spare time, I was learning the language along with them.
I pointed at Ascanio. “Not another word. Latin is a dead language, but that doesn’t mean you get to molest its corpse. Finish sweeping, ianitor.”
He’s actually good for Andrea since he has a sense of humor and is someone for her to look after.
I also like the Andrea is an actual investigator, doing things like going through the trash, going to the library, and taking to the janitors.
I looked up and nodded at Ascanio. “Get your gear.”
He grabbed his knife. “Where are we going?”
“To the library.”
His enthusiasm visibly deflated and he emitted a tragic sigh. “But ‘library’ and ‘kick-ass’ are two concepts that don’t usually go together.”
“That’s the nature of the business. Five percent of the time you are killing monsters. The rest of the time, we’re digging through the dirt for a tiny piece of the perpetrator’s pubic hair.”
And, we get to spend more time with Roman, the priest of Chernobog, who we met in the previous book.
For being an evil priest of an evil dark god, Roman seemed surprisingly normal. Either he was hiding his evilness really well, or it really was just a job for him. Priest of darkness, nine to five. It’s just the family business.
I like Roman.
“You will not pass!” Roman thundered.
Great. Now he had decided he was Gandalf.
There are some rather odd bits here involving Egyptian Gods. That bit actually feels like the weakest part of this story. It’s not bad, it’s just not as strong as the other portions of the book.
Now, although you can read this book as a stand alone, things are going to make a lot more sense and flow better if you’ve read the Kate series as well as “Magic Mourns”. It’s also important if you want to fully understand what’s going on in the next book. I’d actually started the next book, realized I’d missed this one, then realized also that I needed the short story to clarify everything in my memory.
But for once they got a good cover!
Published by Ace
Gunmetal Magic Audible edition (2012) narrated by Renée Raudman
It’s quite possible that we have become spoiled by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who narrates Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, but neither of us could really get into the audio version of Gunmetal Magic.
The narrator wasn’t horrible or anything, but I didn’t get the character differentiation I do with other narrators. And perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood to listen to Gunmetal Magic.
So I abandoned it to finish reading it on the Kkindle.
Published by Audible
“Retribution Clause” originally published in Hex Appeal (2012)
This story is set in the world in which Kate lives, but the only regular character that makes any sort of appearance is Saiman, and that is only because he sent a book to his cousin. This story is outside the Kate timeline.
Adam Talford and Siroun work for POM as Insurance Adjustors in Philadelphia. Adam is a frost giant (hence his relationship to Saiman) but no one seems to know precisely what Siroun is, though she has skills that make her something more than human.
They’re given a case that has to be dealt with immediately.
“Mrs. Sobanto’s insurance policy had a retribution clause… In the event of her homicide, we’re required to terminate the guilty party.”
I enjoyed this story, but the mystery bothered me a bit–the retribution clause bit seemed too make less sense with the resolution of the mystery. But it was interesting and enjoyable.
“Magic Tests” originally published in An Apple for the Creature (2012)
This appears after the events of Magic Slays, but is otherwise outside the timeline. It features Julie, Kate’s ward.
Julie is very much a teenager here.
“Do you think I’m your punishment from God?”
“No. I’d like to think that God, if he exists, is kind, not vengeful.”
This is Julie’s story, and how Kate tries to help her fit into school–something she never did particularly well at the boarding school she was sent to.
It’s a bit angsty, what with the teenagers and all, but with amusing bits thrown in. I admit it’s not one of my favorite stories, but it is nice to see Julie standing on her own, outside of Kate’s influence, but still influenced by the things Kate holds important.
Magic Rises (2013)
European shape-shifters have given The Beast Lord and his pack an offer they can’t resist: come guard a pregnant were and you’ll receive barrels of panacea–the potion that reduces the chance of loupism in young weres.
It’s a trap of some sort, but they can’t figure out what kind, until they get there and its entirely too late to turn back.
As usual, the story is good, and the dialog is fabulous:
“Tell Hibla we need maid service,” I said. “We could handle the trash in our room and an odd smell, but now we have a dead body. If this continues, we won’t be able to give your hotel a decent rating.”
It’s also like a greatest hits, with all the best characters together: Aunt B, Andrea, Derek, Doolittle. I think Aunt B gets the best lines.
“A young djigit stopped by my room,” I said. “…(F)or three thousand dollars he will walk me deep into the mountains and show me where the bad shapeshifters live.”
“How fortunate.” Aunt B’s eyes lit up. “Would you like company on this wonderful trap, I mean, adventure?”
Mind you, there’s lots of dark and unpleasant in this story: People are seriously–irrevocably–injured. People die.
But here’s the thing. They are in a very very bad spot, and they have to fight there way out. There was no way they’d waltz out unscathed, so as much as I hate seeing people die, I find it more frustrating when people do NOT die.
I know people may disagree with me on this–that people don’t like death in their fiction, but I prefer my fantasy to not to too far out there, and people getting injured and killed is one of the things that keep fantasy grounded in reality, in my opinion.
All in all, a very enjoyable read, and a great addition to the Kate series. It will be very interesting to see where things go from here.
One last thing: I’d like to point out how fabulous this cover is. Kate looks like she can kick your ass, and isn’t just showing off her butt and boobs. Additionally, she’s dressed to fight–not dressed in some damned chainmail bikini or other improbably outfit.
Kudos to this cover, and may more and more fantasy covers with women follow THIS trend, as opposed to showing T&A at the same time, regardless of how physically impossible that might be, and how.
Published by Ace
Re-Read: March 2017
This is book six of the Kate Daniels series. If you have not read the previous books, you are almost certainly going to be confused.
Andrea is now beta of the Bouda clan, Curran knows about Kate’s background (as do more and more people), Hugh makes an appearance, and Aunt B continues to make her presence known.
Curran is asked to come to Europe (Georgia, more specifically) to take on a job of mediation and bodyguarding a pregnant shape-shifter.
Needless to say, bad things happen. A lot of bad things.
Not to say that there isn’t levity.
But bad things do happen. I actually don’t have a problem with the bad things happening, since it’s kinda ridiculous how Kate and Curran keep walking away from their adventures, and how how few of their friends die.
But, don’t even try to read this if you haven’t read the previous books, including Andrea’s book. And read the “bonus” short story in the back first.
Published by Ace
"Magic Steals" (2014) first published in Night Shifts
Although they have been dating for awhile, Dali is terrified that Jim is going to suddenly realize just how weak she is and break-up with her. That sounds weak and whiney when you put it right that, but considering Dali’s weaknesses, it’s not unreasonable.
Doesn’t mean she won’t keep trying, but she’s worried.
I pulled up to the stop sign. The passenger door opened and Jim slid into the seat next to me. I clicked the locks closed. Ha-ha! He was trapped.
When Jim shows up for a date completely exhausted, Dali lets him fall asleep. Unfortunately, when her mother shows up, Dali panics.
Neutering was the last thing he had to worry about. If she found him, she’d be overjoyed and run out of the house so we could get busy making grandchildren.
Oh gods what should I call him . . . If I introduced him as my boyfriend, it would get back to my mother.
“We work together,” Jim said.
“And we’re dating.”
Komang raised her eyebrows. “Congratulations!”
Dali’s mom has show up because her friend’s grandmother has disappeared, and they believe evil magic was involved. Because Dali’s magic is partially divine, she must help.
I particularly love the little details, like this description of the missing grandmother.
Komang sighed. “She collects My Little Pony toys.”
Iluh nodded. “You should’ve gone to the bedroom. She has shelves of those. She thinks they are pretty. She sculpts them out of modeling clay and paints them.”
That’s something I would’ve never guessed.
That’s both adorable and sweet.
One of the other valid concerns Dali has that if she and Jim remain together, she’ll end up the alpha of Clan Cat. Since she is a mostly blind vegetarian, she is terrified she would be a weakness.
“Are you done?”
“Dali, you are a tiger. You’re the largest cat on the planet and you weigh over seven hundred pounds in your beast form.”
I took a deep breath. If he were about to chew me out because I was a tiger and I couldn’t fight . . .
“Wait,” Jim said. “Let me finish.”
I cleared my throat. “Okay. Continue.”
“You have accelerated healing even by our standards.”
“You don’t have to be a good fighter for us to make a good team. If you just sit on our attacker for a second, that’s enough for me to kill them.”
I adore that Jim sees her her strengths where she sees weaknesses. And I also like that in resolving the mystery, we also see that Dali isn’t weak–she’s competent and even if she’s scared she still acts.
I don’t like this quite as well as their first short story, but it is still good, and I quite like Jim and Dali.
Published by Berkley
Magic Breaks (2014)
Yes, I did sit on this book for more than two years before getting around to reading it. Mostly because I wasn’t up to re-reading the entire series. I’ll tear through a series, one book after the other, but knowing that to really enjoy a book I need to re-read the seven prior (plus short stories) meant I kept putting it off.
Boy, a crap ton of stuff happens in this book. The Pack now has Panacea (which keeps young shape shifters from going loup and having to be killed), so families are coming from all over the country to join the pack–or at least live near the territory.
Raphael and Andrea are now alphas on Clan Bouda, Clan Wolf is unstable with Desandra vying with Jennifer for alpha status, there is a power vacuum in the people, with Ghastek co-leading the vampires and navigators, and Hugh has returned to Atlanta to come after Kate.
Plus, internal Pack politics.
“How long have you had the ability to sense vampires?” Robert asked.
Here we go. “Why the sudden interest?” I asked.
“We hear things,” Robert said. “Rumors.”
“What kind of rumors?” I asked.
“Disturbing rumors,” Robert said. “We are dissatisfied with the current level of disclosure. We are concerned.”
Things aren’t all bad though. Doolittle is still alive, and just as demanding as before.
“I just thought stairs would be inconvenient.”
“That’s why I have interns. They carried me up here. I thought of commissioning a palanquin. Something understated.”
“With silk and crimson velvet?”
“And golden tassels.” Doolittle rolled forward. “Then I could be transported in a manner appropriate to my vast experience and wisdom.”
Kate also spends time with Ghastek, who I now like even more than I did before. Yes, he’s a necromancer, but he’s not a bad person. Even if he is blind to so much going on around him.
Apparently I had hidden too well. For all of his intelligence, Ghastek still hadn’t put two and two together. He knew with absolute certainty that I couldn’t pilot vampires. He had seen me not pilot them on numerous occasions. In his mind, I couldn’t possibly do it, so I had to have hired someone else and that someone must’ve grabbed control of the vampires at the Conclave. Right.
But I still like him.
“Any undead?” Curran asked Ghastek.
The Master of the Dead looked at him. “Pick a direction, I’ll tell you how many.”
“Is there a direction in which there aren’t vampires?” Andrea asked.
“It’s basic intelligence work,” Curran said. “You should’ve put it together. The pieces were there. You need to invest in information gathering. I get that you concentrate on research and development, but you can’t run the People without a solid intelligence network in place. If you can’t do it, get someone who can. I don’t even know why I’m telling you this, because really, your ignorance is my bliss.”
There is a character list and brief biography at the start of the book, but I think that works more as a refresher than a catch-up if you haven’t been reading along.
Regardless, I liked this book better than I thought I would. In fact, I was quite pleased with the ending.
Published by Ace
Magic Shifts (2015)
Jim is now the Beast Lord, Dali his mate and co-alpha, and now shifting power and alliances are happening–but beyond Kate and Curran, who are not to meddle.
Dali waved at her. After we retired, Jim Shrapshire, Curran’s best friend, became the Beast Lord. That made Dali the Beast Lady. She now had my job with all the pain and trouble that came with it.
“Consort,” I said. “You honor us.”
“Fuck you,” Dali said. “Fuck your shit. I quit.”
During this time, various members of the pack have to decide if they are going to remain in the pack and leave to join Kate and Curran.
Into this steps George, Mahon’s daughter, searching for her fiance–Eduardo. Mahon doesn’t think Eduardo (a buffalo and NOT a bear) is good enough for Kate, so he’s not searching and George is desperate, so she goes to Kate.
For example, the first time Aunt B came to the Pack Council, (Mahon) took it upon himself to lecture her about how men should be men and women should be women, and Clan alphas should be men with women helping them, not the other way around.”
I laughed. “What did she do?”
“She petted his shoulder and said, ‘Bless your heart, you must be awful in bed.’”
Thus opens a whole can of worms.
Of course, we also have the settling down of power within the People, most of whom have no idea how to deal with Kate.
But I do like how Julie is turning out. She’s truly learning how to deal with all the weird crap in Kate’s life.
Rowena froze, completely still like a statue. Julie pulled a piece of chalk out of her pocket, drew a protective circle on the floor, and sat in it. At the other end of the room, Ghastek clenched his teeth, probably trying to mitigate the effect of Roland’s voice.
Saiman has walked away from Kate, looking to save his own skin, because he doesn’t believe Kate can hold the city. I don’t think Kate was particularly surprised–I wasn’t. But I am sad there won’t be more Saiman in the near future.
This totally cracked me up, for I was always falling up the stairs as a teenager.
Julie gathered her blanket and went up the staircase.
“I’m okay!” she called out. “I fell up, but I’m okay.”
There is one more book, but it’s hardback priced, so I’m not buying it right now, so this looks to be the end of my Kate Daniels binge.
Published by Ace
On Edge (2009)
Yes, I know, I know. I usually hate kissing books.
And in my defense, I didn’t know it was a kissing book when I ordered it. I saw Ilona Andrews had a new series coming out, and ordered the book sight unseen. But as soon as I saw the cover of the book, I knew it was a kissing book.
How did I know this you ask? Because there’s a guy’s head floating on the cover. Floating man head = kissing book.
But I really like Ilona Andrews writing, so I put myself in the frame of mind for a kissing book and dove in.
And finished the book in a single evening.
Yes, it’s a kissing book, but its a very well done kissing book, and it was smooching with a plot thrown in, but instead was a very good fantasy story that happened to have smooching and a HEA and all that other romance stuff. (I just used the term romance. I hope I didn’t give me blog cooties.)
Rose lives on the Edge. Not the metaphorical edge, but a place where magic and the mundane are combined, and where those who are able, can cross from one world to another. Unfortunately, living on the Edge means a struggle to survive, and with two younger brothers to care for, Rose struggles more than most. To make things even more difficult, Rose has a very strong magic–and rather that keeping her safe and allowing her to succeed, the strength of her magic has caused her nothing but problems since she was 18; magic doesn’t work in the mundane world, so she has to work an off the books job to survive.
What first drew me into the story was the nod to the folk/fairy tale of the knight who must succeed in three impossible tasks to win the heart of the princess. Not that Rose is a princess–far from it–but I liked the parallel, and then the way the story diverged and went its own way for the original tale. After all, modern women should be self-rescuing princesses.
Although this is romance in the world of fantasy, with all the obstacles between the destined lovers, the obstacles felt real, and the stupidity of the characters was not one of the obstacles.
Additionally, the world building is very very good. As much as I love her Kate Daniels series, the world building in the first book is not as good as it could be–I had a very difficult time picturing the world in which Kate lives. In On Edge, however, the world building is excellent. I understood the world in which Rose lives, and the rules made sense.
Yeah, there was boinking, but really, by the time we got there, I didn’t mind so much.
Re-Read: December 2014
Rose Drayton lives in the Edge, the border between the Broken (mundane world) and the Weird (magical world). She’s raising her brothers, George and Jack, with the occasional help of her grandmother. She’s proud, despite her poverty, and has one thing that sets her apart from the other Edgers: she can Flash white and she has very very good control of her flash.
For awhile, this made her the target of slavers and other undesirables, but eventually people learned to leave her alone, and now her life is the day-to-day grind of an undocumented worker struggling to feed and clothe her two young brothers.
So when a Weird Blueblood arrives on her doorstep (so to speak) she is ready to defend herself and her brothers with everything she has.
But it turns out the blueblood, Declan, might be more than he seems on the surface.
This is a boinking book. Aside from the fact I could totally do without the boinking, I really like this series. As always, Ilona Andrews’ heroines stand up for themselves and aren’t afraid to fight. Which is pretty much my book catnip.
But what I also like is that the other characters–especially her brothers, George and Jack, are complete as well. And William (Declan’s best friend) is also intriguing (and unique). So the book is about far more than the romance between Rose and Declan.
I find this cover perplexing. Rose is shown as strong–and pretty much as she is in the book. Declan, on the other hand, is a shirtless (we can assume) floating head. That’s just…. weird. But since we get a strong female, I’ll take it.
Published by Ace
Bayou Moon (2010)
The first book in The Edge series had Rose attempting to survive on the Edge and raise her two younger brothers, and Declan barging in and–in the end–helping her save herself. Instead of continuing with Rose’s story, the main characters in Bayou Moon are William (who appeared in the first book) and Cerise, a resident of the Mire and soon to be the defacto head of the Mar clan, which comes with some nasty clan rivalries that are ready to boil into an open war.
I actually liked Bayou Moon very much, despite the fact I thought it had a couple of flaws. First, William’s character sometimes felt inconsistent. His child-like side disappears quite quickly, and his inability to relate to Cerise and her family on a person-to-person basis seemed inconsistent with his training, especially the spying.
Cerise was a wonderful and strong lead and although you knew she was going to fall in love with William (this is a floating head book) you know she’s going to do it on her own terms.
But, it was still a fun read and a perfect distraction.
Re-Read: December 2014
Cerise Mar is the head of her family, now that her parents have disappeared. She wants more than anything to get her parents back, but more important is holding the family together, and dealing with their three-quarter century feud with the Sheeriles. She also has to hold things together for her damaged sister, who has abandoned her given name and now goes by Lark.
William, who we met in the first book, One the Edge, is a changeling, and had a horrifying childhood: abandoned by his mother and raised in an orphanage that was nothing more than a military training facility, he learned to function in the world, but women in the Weird have always disdained him.
I like William, and I want the best for him. He’s so damaged, but he’s also so protective of Jack in the first book, I can’t help but want good things for him.
We also meet Cerise’s cousin, Kaldar, who is a complete rogue, and thus my favorite guy in the whole series.
Published by Ace
Fate’s Edge (2011)
Keldar is a rogue. That floating head? Just… doesn’t look smart enough to pull off the part.
But aside from that….
Audrey Callahan was born and raised a grifter, but she’s managed to escape from her family and go straight.
Kaldar Mar, the cousin of Cerise from Bayou Moon, is working for the Mirror, in the hopes of taking down The Hand–the group that destroyed much of his family.
And from previous books, Jack and George are the brothers of Rose, and are having a hard time dealing with the fact that as Edgers they will never be accepted by the weird, regardless of the nobility of their brother-in-law and ward. And Gaston is another of Cerise’s cousins, now training with Kaldar to become a mirror agent.
For a romance (and this is a romance and boinking book) it’s unusual to make two main characters teenage boys who happened to be main characters in a previous book, but it worked very well for this book. In On the Edge we spent a lot of time with George and Jack, and it was good to spend time with them again, and see how they’ve grown and come to deal with their sister’s happily ever after.
As a series, these books are similar to Marjorie Liu‘s Dirk & Steele series, where you have a group of character’s whose stories are related yet can be read separate from one another. Which I like very much.
To be more specific, I really enjoyed Fate’s Edge. Audrey is a fabulous heroine, skilled and self-reliant and although she has a somewhat ugly history, it hasn’t broken her. And of course I have a soft spot for rogues, and Kaldar most definitely belongs to that class.
All in all I am thoroughly enjoying this series, and highly recommend it.
Despite the boinking.
Re-Read: December 2014
I like rogues. I can’t help it. I have a terrible weakness for them. Which is odd, when you consider that I probably wouldn’t much care for them in real like. But the ability to be charming while stealing you blind (but only for a good cause!) is book catnip. I just can’t resist.
Keldar has arranged for most of the marriages in his family, while remaining steadfastly single himself. After 2/3rds of his family was killed by the Mirror, Kaldar offered his services to the Mirror, and will happily take any job that will harm the Hand.
Audrey Callahan is the child of grifters, and an accomplished thief and grifter herself. But she’s put that all behind her, and is living straight in the Broken. Doing work for a PI firm. She likes having a home and security, and so the reappearance of any of her family is–to put it mildly–unwelcome.
Unfortunately for her, what they want her to get involved in is going to have nasty repercussions for the Edge and the Weird, and perhaps even the Broken.
I loved spending time with Keldar. He’s just delightful.
My problem with this book is that the romance was somewhat forced, and just felt too fast, especially for Audrey. But I suppose when you only have a single book, you do what you can. Because otherwise, the story was very good.
We got to spent more time with Jack and George, as well as Gaston (from the previous book) and we get a glimpse at how Rose & Declan and Cerise & William are doing.
I actually quite liked the parts with Jack and George. It was good to see how they grew and matured.
So all in all, aside from the romance (which is my least favorite part of this series anyway) the story is fabulous.
This is probably the best cover of the series. Kaldar is fully dressed, and although he’s floating, disembodied, it’s far less disturbing since he isn’t shirtless (or possibly naked).
Published by Ace
Steel’s Edge (2012)
According to Ilona Andrews, this is the last book in the Edge series. In the future they may write in this world (and about some of these characters) again, but as it is, they’re done with The Edge series.
Second point, this is a relatively long book. Although the story focuses on Charlotte and Richard, we spend a fair amount of time with some of the characters that have been introduced throughout the series. I’m good with this, but I’m not sure how someone who picked this book up without having read the previous books would feel about that.
So, the story.
Charlotte is the Healer. Her talent for healing manifested at a very young age, and so her parents gave her up so she could be trained to live up to her tremendous gift. Unfortunately for her, none of that training taught her how to deal with a failed marriage.
Since moving to the Weird, Richard has made it his goal to take down the slaver network that destroyed much of his family. He too has a failed marriage in his past, but like Charlotte has dedicated himself to his work.
Together, THEY FIGHT CRIME!
Ok. Sorry. I suck at writing synopses.
I very much like Charlotte and Richard. Both have been damaged by their pasts, and throw themselves into helping others. Both get themselves into bad situations, but they do it because they are trying to help other people, not because they’re TSTL.
I also really enjoyed the amount of time we spent with George and Jack and Sophie. I believe it says something about Ilona Andrews’ writing that I was pleased to spend so much time with the secondary characters, because I cared about what had happened to them as well.
I did have two small issues. First, the major subplot with George and Jack was seemingly dropped. I suppose they were dealing with the issue in the background, but we spent so much time with George and Jack initially, it seemed weird how the aftermath of their issue just disappeared. But as I said, this was already a long book, so I understand why, but it just felt odd.
Second, I wasn’t sure about Charlotte’s “big confrontation” at the end. I felt a bit confused by what happened, but that may have been due to the fact that I stayed up past my bedtime because I HAD to finish this book, so I probably wasn’t completely clear-headed when I read it.
If you haven’t read any other books in the edge series, you should be perfectly fine reading this book, although, as I said, you might not appreciate the time spent with the secondary characters.
Published by Ace
Burn for Me (2014)
Nevada Baylor runs her family’s detective agency. Her father’s death put the family deeply into debt, and the agency that bought their mortgage owns the business–and in many ways Nevada herself.
Connor “Mad” Rogan is a prime, head of his house, and a force of destruction, used by the army for years in their war in South America. He’s retired from the military, but his reputation isn’t any better now he is a civilian. He’s also after the same thing as Nevada, but neither knows it yet.
Years ago when aristocrats were expected to serve in the military, they began practicing with swords as soon as they could walk. Now Primes practiced drawing arcane symbols.
This is an romantic fantasy set in a world parallel to our own, with the difference that magic works there, and is the force that runs the planet (rather than oil, as we have in our world/time).
I’m rather conflicted about this book.
As always, I enjoyed the writing. And I very much liked Nevada. And her entire family.
However, I was frustrated by the ending, and, well, this is a boinking book. Or rather, it would be a boinking book, if there was boinking. Instead there was a lot of discussion about physiques and such.
As we know, that’s just not my thing, and as usual, I kept skimming those passages wanting to get back to the good parts.
Another negative: Mad Rogan is a jerk. Yes, he has his good points, but he’s a still a jerk. I don’t WANT Nevada to fall in love with him. I want her to find someone who isn’t a big furry jerk. I don’t always dislike jerks, after all, I ended up falling in love with Ronan in the Raven Boys series, but Ronan is a teenager, so a lot of his behavior can be forgiven. Mad Rogan? Is not a teenager. I just want Nevada to run the other way and find someone who isn’t a jerk.
Another problem I had was Nevada’s powers. And her ignorance of them. From what we see her do, it seems like she’d have to be an idiot not to realize she’s a prime. And yet…
Don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy the story. But there were things that bothered me, and kept me from loving the story the way I normally do Ilona Andrews books.
ALSO, I HATE the cover the book ended up with. HATE HATE HATE. And I hate it EVEN MORE after I saw the cover that was rejected.
THIS COVER IS AWESOME.
I would immediately pick this book up to read. It has a strong heroine who powerful and taking action. I LOVE covers like this, but instead we get some moody, shirt falling off for no good reason and in no normal manner… thing.
I just can’t even with the cover they got, and I can’t EVEN MORE when I see what they could have had.
Avon? YOU SUCK.
Published by Avon
Silent Blade (2009)
Meli is an assassin who has inherited gifts from her family that make her an excellent assassin. However, after years of killing for her family, she has decided to retire. And she enjoys her retirement until her family asks her for one last death–the death of the very man who ruined her life.
A fun story and a nice distraction.
Published by Samhain Publishing Ltd
Of Swine and Roses (2011)
This is a short story by Ilona Andrews–I have to say I love their short stories. If you follow her blog, you’re likely to read more.
Published by Ilona Andrews, Inc
Must Love Hellhounds (2009)
I picked up this anthology solely because I saw Ilona Andrews had a story in it. Charlaine Harris also usually writes decent short stories, but not always. But I figured, I like everything I’ve read by Ilona Andrews, and there should be at least one other decent story in there, so it’s worth it.
Third was Ilona Andrews’s story “Magic Mourns” set in the same world as her Kate Daniels books, but featuring Kate’s fellow knight Andrea, and the were Raphael. Kate is still recovering from her misadventures in the last book, so in the meantime Andrea is taking her calls, and ends up heading out when someone calls in to report a dog as big as a house chasing a were. There were a lot of things I really liked about this story. First, I liked that we got to learn more about two important but secondary characters in the series. Second, Ilona Andrews did a very good job with the world building–I think she did a better job in this novella actually than she did in the first Kate Daniels book. There’s not much detail about why things are the way they are, but there are succinct explanations of how things are.
Under Her Skin (2009)
So, this was the first full book I read on the Nook. I love Ilona Andrews and also really like Jeaniene Frost, so I figured I couldn’t go too wrong for three bucks. These are three short paranormal romances, focusing on shape shifters, but also with strong female leads.
The final story–and the reason I bought the collection–was Ilona Andrews’ story “Grace of Small Magics.” None of the characters are were-wolves, so this story has quite a different feel from the previous too, as there are no familiar elements upon which to hang these characters and this world.
Grace discovers her family is indebted to another family, and that she is required to help this family perform a magical service of some sort, though she knows nothing about the family or what service she could possible provide. This story was the action/adventure/quest tale, and once I realized there wasn’t going to be a werewolf and once I paid more attention to the world building, I very much enjoyed the story. Again, strong female lead who does her part in rescuing herself. Always a favorite.
Yes, these are three relatively short stories, but the stories by Jeaniene Frost and Ilona Andrews were definitely worth the price of admission.
Only drawback about these stories is you can only get them in ebook format.
I can’t help myself–I love anthologies. And fantasy anthologies with writers who write their fantasy with a healthy does of mystery? Sign me up! All anthologies have high and low points, but overall this was a fairly strong group of stories.
The book starts off with a current favorite author, Ilona Andrews. This is a Kate Daniels story, only set in the past, when Kate was still working for the Mercenary Guild. And we get to see how she met Saiman, which is a story well worth reading. Plus, this glimpse into Kate’s past was quite interesting. I have to admit that as much as I have been enjoying the series, I really really like independent Kate.
Yes, there were other stories, but they weren’t particular favorites. but the stories mentioned above are well worth the price of the book, especially if you’ve not read stories by these authors before.
Published by St Martin’s Griffin
I bought the anthology first and foremost because it had an Ilona Andrews story, “Retribution Clause”.
I love Ilona Andrews.
This story is set in the same damaged world as her Kate Daniels series, however, it’s set in Philadelphia, so there were no appearances by familiar characters (although Saiman was name checked).
Adam Talford and his partner Siroun work for POM Insurance. Neither is human, but we’re never told what Siroun is. They’re given an emergency case, and told that the company can’t afford there to be too many casualties. And that’s about it.
This was a very interesting story. If it weren’t for the fact that I track very closely what they have coming out, I’d think this was going to be the start of a new series, but, it isn’t, so enjoy it for what it is. A fun story.
But all in all, it was well worth the price of admission for the stories I did like.
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
Luckily, the title is not reflective of most of the stories inside.
Ilona Andrews’ story “Golden Delicious” is set in the world of Kate Daniels, but Kate barely makes an appearance. Kate’s ward, Julie (at Kate’s insistence) needs to remain in school. As part of her introduction to the latest school, she is asked to see if she can discover why a student disappeared. As usual, Ilona Andrews’ stories do not disappoint me.
All in all, it was a decent selection of short stories that made up for terrible title.
Published by Ace
Let me be clear from the start: I read only two of these stories. In fact, I was going to read only one story, Ilona Andrews’ story “Magic Steals” until I realized the next story was a Lisa Shearin SPI files story. I very much adored the first SPI Files book, so was delighted to read a novella set in that world.
I already knew I don’t care for Nalini Singh’s stories (they simply aren’t my thing), and the last story didn’t pique my interest. I might read it at a later time, but possibly not. So I’ll review the two stories I did read.
Magic Steals is Jim and Dali story, and one that I (and many others) have been waiting for since their last story, “Magic Dreams”.
Jim and Dali are dating, except that Dali is so certain that handsome, confident alpha Jim is going to come to his senses at any moment and dump her, that she refuses to admit they are dating.
This sounds dumb, but you’ll have to trust me that it isn’t. Dali is a tiny, vegetarian, half-blind woman who turns into a massive white tiger–who is afraid to fight, doesn’t like the taste of blood even in her tiger form, and is befuddled following her change to her tiger form.
Yes, she is a very rare shifter who is also magic user, but her calligraphy magic doesn’t always work as she expects. So, her lack of self-confidence is understandable. But what this story makes clear is that Dali has value, to Jim and to her community.
I really enjoyed this story, despite all the boinking.
I also enjoyed Dali’s relationship with her mother.
Not to mention that she would be so overjoyed that I was having sex in the first place, she would probably call all of our relatives and tell them about it. They’d throw a party to celebrate.
Published by Berkley