Review: “Magic Shifts,” Ilona Andrews

Pros: Fantastic storytelling, world-building, and character creation
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

Magic Shifts is book eight of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. In this installment, Kate, Curran, and Julie have separated from the Atlanta Shifter Pack. (As part of a deal they made, Kate’s father insisted she give up her position of power in the Pack.) Eduardo, a were-buffalo, goes missing while out on a job for the Mercenary Guild, and George, who loves Eduardo and who recently lost one of her arms, comes to Kate for help in finding him. (For various reasons, she isn’t going through the Pack for this one.) Bizarre magic is being thrown around in greater and greater amounts, threatening not just our heroes, but also the city of Atlanta itself.

 

Magic Shifts is so wonderfully quotable:

I rode through the night-drenched streets of Atlanta on a mammoth donkey. The donkey’s name was Cuddles. She was ten feet tall, including the ears, and her black-and-white hide suggested she might have held up a Holstein cow in some dark alley and was now wearing her clothes.

It’s so much fun to read, although I might have driven my husband a bit nuts by quoting so much of it to him. As usual, the characters are stellar. They have a lot of depth and personality to them. Kate is so non-typical of current urban fantasy heroines that I absolutely adore her. She’s blunt, she’s a bit crazy, and even when she tries to be civil or diplomatic it rarely works out that way for her–she just isn’t a civil or diplomatic person! She and Curran are perfect for each other, both totally and completely stubborn, both with overdeveloped senses of responsibility, and both a bit crazy. Julie is also growing up into a really neat personality of her own.

There’s some good summary in here to catch you up if you haven’t read the series recently, and it’s handled well. It doesn’t feel like an infodump. Then we get introduced to ghouls–they have more will, intelligence, and personality left than actual vampires do, and they eat carrion. They also seem to be stirring in larger numbers, and they’re being influenced by an unknown magic. That magic has also caused innumerable other problems, up to and including creating a giant that tries to destroy the Mercenary Guild.

Speaking of which, the Guild is in a shambles and Curran is considering taking it over, for a variety of reasons. That turns into a rather fascinating side plot of its own. I also like the fact that Kate is starting to come to terms with the fact that even away from the Pack, she and Curran will never have anything like a “normal” life, and that’s okay.

The combats in Magic Shifts are fantastic. The authors never fail to provide exciting, complicated plots where everything can and will go wrong. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

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