Review: “Magic Bites,” Ilona Andrews

Pros: Great story; very nice flawed heroine
Cons: Narration starts out overwrought and clunky
Rating: 4 out of 5

Kate Daniels is a broke mercenary who hides great magical power in her veins. When someone she loves is murdered, she has to risk revealing that power to all the wrong people in order to figure out who killed him. Her suspects include the Masters of the Dead (necromancers who control vampires), the Pack (shapeshifters), and… well, not much else. Which is a problem, because she quickly realizes that the person who killed her friend has also been killing both shapeshifters and necromancers. She’ll need allies on both sides of the fence if she wants to solve this deadly mystery.

 

Magic Bites is book one of the Kate Daniels urban fantasy series by Ilona Andrews (a husband-and-wife writing team). Book six, Magic Rises, entertained me enough to send me back to read the rest of the series. That kind of five-book break from later to earlier is a bit jarring. Naturally, earlier books are a bit choppier. It’s weird to see Kate as a younger, rougher, more flawed version of herself, but after I got used to that I rather liked it. It’s excellent to see a character grow throughout a series, and she clearly has some room for that. Back in the first book Kate has enough of a mouth on her that she nearly gets herself killed several times over, and she doesn’t always do the smart thing. It felt organic enough to the character, however, that I didn’t get overly frustrated with her. Given how badass she is with weapons and magic, it’s good that she has personal flaws.

Another difference that was harder to get used to was the narrative. It felt clunky and overwrought for a goodly portion of the book. Toward the end of the book, as the plot picked up pace, that seemed to get better. I’m not actually sure whether it improved, or the pace was just so good that I stopped noticing it. Either way, clearly the plot picks up to a point where it sucked me in. Since I had a little bit of insomnia last night I found myself reading with rapt attention at 4 am, which speaks well of the book. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot, red herrings, missed clues, and so forth, creating a deft weave of material. There’s tense danger, and I’ll warn you now that there’s also some dark material here.

While Magic Bites didn’t impress me as much as Magic Rises, it is very good, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series!

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