[Links in this post lead to one of two places: the author’s website or Amazon.]
I decided to go back and re-read the entire original 10-book Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. I rarely re-read books, but these are some of my all-time favorites. Kate is one of my absolute favorite protagonists ever. It’s an urban fantasy world in which magic is eating away at the remnants of technology, creating a sort of slow-motion apocalypse. Kate is a mercenary, and kind of a thug, really, but she genuinely likes helping people in a world where not many people do. She has inherited mysterious, powerful magic that she doesn’t really understand or know how to use, and she’s been learning to fight from a master of the art since she was a babe. She’s also been placed on a collision course with a powerful being whom she’s been tasked to kill.
The books are not just as good as I remember; they may actually be better. It’s fantastic to go back and catch interesting things that I didn’t notice before, or see the seeds of future plots and stories when they were just beginning. There are also so many amazing scenes in these books that I love reading over again. We get to see Kate at her best and at her worst, as she grows from a thug-in-hiding to… well, you’ll have to discover that for yourself.
I was so sad when the series ended. But wait, there’s more! Recently Ilona Andrews (which is actually a husband-and-wife writing team) started a new Kate Daniels series–Kate Daniels: the Wilmington Years–set a few years after the end of the last one. Hurrah! Only two books so far, and I can’t wait for more.
Now, it should be noted that there are various novellas and short stories and such set in and around the series, so check out the list of novellas, which includes two for Andrea and Raphael, two for Dali and Jim, and one for Derek. There’s the first Iron Covenant book if you want to see more of Hugh after reading about him in Kate’s books. There’s Blood Heir if you want to see where Julie ended up–and I can’t wait for more about her!
The writing in these books is so fun and so good that I didn’t want to stop once I re-read those twelve books. So, um, I decided to read everything else I could get via Kindle that Ilona Andrews has written. I do mean everything. The release schedule of Andrews’ books (on their site) will help you be sure you’ve got everything.
The Hidden Legacy series is urban fantasy about magical families in a modern world, and it starts off focused on a woman who’s a private detective with a seemingly small magic: she can tell when someone lies to her. Whatever you do, make sure you read the novella Diamond Fire between books three and four or you will be very lost!
The Innkeeper Chronicles is a series about… well, an innkeeper. It seems that there are lots of inhabited planets out there. An agreement in place keeps them from revealing themselves to Earth, but Earth has certain inns set up to receive aliens when they have to be here. The inns are semi-sentient, and they bond with an innkeeper who has almost ultimate power within the inn’s boundaries. But the inn needs visitors in order to flourish, and an innkeeper who misuses their power is likely to find their inn abandoned. The stories of alien visitors and how Dina keeps them from screwing with Earth are quite amazing. This is sort of urban-fantasy-meets-scifi. Some parts get surprisingly dark given how light-hearted the concept sounds.
The Edge is an urban fantasy series about a magical world that overlaps with our own, and the people who live in “the edge” between the two. Most of those people live a pretty sad life. They tend to have too much magic to live in our world, but not enough to live in the other world. Some of them are exiles from the world of magic. There’s some fascinating politics that go on, a touch of steampunk in the magical realm, and some great dashes of romance. Note that romance figures in all of these series to some extent–in some series you’ll see the traditional one-relationship-per-book setup, while in most of them you’ll kind of follow a single couple for several books.
Unlike I did, be sure to read The Edge series before the Innkeeper Chronicles so you can catch the amazing thing that I can’t believe I missed. Several characters from The Edge play major roles in the Innkeeper Chronicles! Now I may have to re-read the Innkeeper Chronicles just so I have that in mind when I do.
The Kinsmen Universe, together with Fated Blades, comprise a series set in the future–pretty much science fiction this time. There are various families who have genetically-engineered “gifts” and who engage in all sorts of shenanigans. This is one of those instances where it’s one-relationship-per-book, and I really enjoyed them.
You’ll also find some additional short stories linked to from that aforementioned release schedule. I highly recommend them. Be sure to check out what it would look like if texting were a thing in the Kate Daniels universe. And yes, I do remember Klausner!
I still hold the Kate Daniels books (and the surrounding “Kate Daniels World” books) as my faves. The rest of the series are very good however, and I’m quite glad I read them. If you want some absolutely amazing high-stakes urban fantasy/science fiction shenanigans, give them a try!