This isn’t really a book review. While I’ll state my opinion on Magic Bites, this is more of a writing journal. I don’t read enough of this genre to feel qualified to write a review anyway, nor do I read enough novels period. This is about how I feel about this book as an aspiring novelist.
So as a man, why did I pick this one? Aren’t urban fantasy books usually girly? I wouldn’t know, but I can enjoy any kind of fiction as long as it’s well done. I firmly believe that there is no inferior genre or medium of entertainment. They’re all good in different ways, with their own unique strengths. Since the main character for the series I’m working on is a woman, it’s also good for me to read at least a few books with female lead characters, preferably written by women as well. But the main reason I read this is because a fellow blogger reviewed it and made it sound amazing.
It’s actually been a while since I read this book. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I read it back in September. I still remember the bulk of the plot, but have probably forgotten some of the smaller scenes. But one thing I do remember is enjoying this book thoroughly. Magic Burns is kind of amazing.
Kate Daniels is a magic-wielding mercenary searching for her guardian’s killer. She wields Slayer, a magical sword that kills the undead. She has a bit of a rough personality but is confident in her skills and abilities. As powerful as she is though, she’s certainly not overpowered. The book is written purely from her perspective, with her entertainingly cynical way of seeing things. Most of the other characters have their own interesting traits, from the proud leader of the shape shifter clan known as “the pack”, to several dangerous magical villains. There is a bit of a love interest, but it’s neither distracting nor does it end the way you’d expect.
The world itself takes place in the future. Instead of a bunch of futuristic technology though, magic has taken over. The magic itself seems to switch between being on and off, adding a chaotic element to the story. There are vampires, zombies and magical ways to control both. I usually try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but the climax has a zombie dragon. Let me repeat that – A ZOMBIE DRAGON! The book sets up this crazy world in a way that makes the zombie dragon believable and fun.
I’m not sure if Urban Fantasy is the best way to categorize this book. The better genre name may be high fantasy. There are special breeds of people who are naturally more powerful than anyone else, and even bloodlines with natural affinity for magic. All sorts of weirdness happens yet everyone just accepts it. And while I haven’t read it yet, the second Kate Daniels book describes the potential rebirth of evil Gods. But the main point I’m getting at is, this book was delightful. It’s entertaining, dark and has a great sense of humour. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a fairly quick read. Just do yourself a favour and read it. Here’s a link to an excerpt.
As a writer, I’m very glad I read this. Magic Bites has already has affected my writing to a degree. It helped me realize that some of the action scenes I had written went on a bit too long in earlier drafts. Since then, I’ve shortened pretty much all of them down and have even removed one or two completely. It’s made me want to write smarter, and try to inject more tense scenes that don’t rely on direct displays of violence. The way this book is written helped tighten up my environmental descriptions and the ways characters observe them. It uses these sparingly and in as few words as possible, yet enough to set the book’s atmosphere and tone.
Beyond that, this book’s writing style is very different from my own. It’s mostly written in first person perspective, while mine are mostly in third person. Most of the short stories I’ve been writing this month have been in first person though. Magic Bites’s lead character is very different from my own. In fact I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t get along despite having similar careers.
Ilona Andrews is the main credited writer, but this series is actually written by both Ilona and her husband, Gordon. According to their website, there are currently 6 books in the Kate Daniels series, with a couple spinoffs as well. There’s also a one-off novella about a magical innkeeper that looks kind of awesome. Here’s their website if you want to know more.
I’m still not sure what book I’m going to read next month. It’s between Magic Burns and the She Hulk novel. I’m leaning toward She Hulk to celebrate the launch of her new solo series. If I read one fast enough though, I may just read both. After all, I do need to read more novels.