Review: “Magic Rises,” Ilona Andrews

Pros: Gripping, fascinating, lively action-adventure
Cons: Now I need to track down the rest of the books!
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Ex-mercenary Kate Daniels is Consort to Curran, the Beast Lord, and joins him in ruling over the Pack. The Pack has a crisis: many of its children fail to survive to adulthood and die in horrible ways. There is a medicine that can improve their chances, but it’s nearly impossible to obtain. Now the European packs have offered the panacea as payment in return for having Curran arbitrate a dispute involving a pregnant shapeshifter and a strategically important mountain pass. Kate and Curran know they’d be walking into a trap, but they’re going to have to risk that in order to save the Pack’s children. Kate is concerned about being found by her ancient and terribly powerful father, Roland–or Hugh d’Ambray, Roland’s warlord, who has reason to find her interesting. Maybe a trip to Europe is just what she needs to take the heat off… or maybe it’ll toss her right straight into the fire.

 

Magic Rises is the sixth of the Kate Daniels novels. Despite that I found it quite readable on its own. Yes, there’s plenty of background that would be useful to have, but author Ilona Andrews has a great knack for filling in just the spare details needed to keep things understandable. I never felt lost despite not having the five books’ worth of background; nor was I overcome by ungainly lumps of exposition.

The characters in Magic Rises have plenty of quirks and twists and turns to their personalities. I found the emotional minefields in Kate and Curran’s relationship entirely believable. I also loved that there were genuine tough problems in their relationship that couldn’t simply be solved with a cathartic bout of sex.

There’s plenty of adventure and danger waiting for Kate in Europe. There are no dead spaces in Magic Rises, no boring drop-offs with little happening. There’s always intrigue to be found, character development to be experienced, and plenty of violence to keep the pace up. There are mysteries to be solved, such as the identity of the deadly, previously unknown shape-shifter that attacks Kate shortly after her arrival. But the true mystery is why exactly someone has gone to so much effort to bring Kate and Curran to Europe–and what could they hope to gain by it? Unraveling that is the truly fun part of things.

There’s another character who has an interesting relationship with Kate later in the book. I’ll just say that I really liked the fact that there was palpable chemistry there despite the… problems… between them. Also, that other person has a fascinating personality that keeps things interesting. (Sorry for the vagueness–I don’t want to spoil anything for you.)

I loved the characters and adventure of Magic Rises enough that I plan to track down and read the first five books–and that’s about the best recommendation I can give it.

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