The Kate Daniels series takes place in a world with magic wielding mercenaries, various forms of were-beasts and people who can “pilot” the undead. An apocalyptic wave of magic overtook the Earth after centuries of technology’s domination, and now it comes and goes with the tide. When magic is on, electricity doesn’t work. When magic is off, nobody can use it. With the power structure changed as a result, those without magical abilities are bound to feel left out and venerable. Sooner or later they’ll resort to extreme measures to try to retake the Earth. That happens to be a subject in Magic Slays.
I read the first book of Ilona Andrews’s series back in the summer of 2013, and with every passing entry I’ve enjoyed every book more than the last. The husband and wife writing team of Ilona and Gordon make great use of clever wordplay and humour to balance out what is otherwise a fairly dark and violent series. With more mysteries about all the core characters revealed in each book, the stakes seem to keep growing. I just read book 5, and it might be the best one yet. Just like last time I feel like reading the next entry right now. However, I plan to keep my pattern of reading at least 3 other novels between each entry. Maybe I’ll catch up with the series by the end of the year (book 8 comes out this summer).
Kate Daniels, the perspective character, is a mercenary who is filled with magical potential, which also makes her a bit of a target for reasons I really shouldn’t spoil. Let’s just say the reasons are revealed in book 3 and further expanded on in each follow-up. Kate’s personality is a bit caustic; the result of a rather difficult childhood. With each book she’s calmed down a bit, but still retains her harder edge when it counts. Her narrations are always fun, with the way she describes other characters, the environment and the situations with her snarky attitude.
Throughout the series the sexual tension grew between her and Curran, the were-lion in charge of the pack (the main were-beast group in Atlanta). It finally grew into a relationship in the last book, yet they’re still not without their struggles in this one. It doesn’t help that they both have a violent temper, but in this book it’s usually directed toward their common enemies. It helps both characters feel real. They balance each other even if the book’s circumstances test them emotionally, which makes their relationship all the more charming when they manage to work out their arguments.
Without saying too much about the plot, everyone has to set aside their numerous differences to deal with a major threat. They have to stop something with the destructive capability resembling a nuclear bomb, but it only harms specific kinds of people. It leads to several big action scenes toward the end and several emotionally charged moments. The final battle isn’t epic the same way as books 2 and 4, but the time constraints work just as well. That and reading about the protagonists plowing through the villains is just fun.
I say this every time I write a blog post about one of these books, but the writing style makes me want to make my own writing more entertaining in its style. It makes me want to come up with witty wording to describe things and use characters’ thoughts creatively rather than just portraying internal debates or feelings.
I love this series, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy. It’s usually referred to as an urban fantasy, but I’d sooner describe it as a high fantasy since it mixes all sorts of mythology, bizarre creatures (the first book has a zombie dragon) and a strong focus on storytelling. Just know that at times, the descriptions for action sequences and crime scenes get a bit graphic in description.
My next novel is going to be either Hulk vs. Abomination (a Marvel novel I found at a flea market for $1) or a book written by a second cousin of mine. I’ve never met her (I live in Ontario, Canada and she’s from California), but I should read it just the same. After that, it’ll be a non-fiction book (most likely on one of the world wars to act as research for my series), then I’ll either read the other book of the two I just mentioned or a science-fiction book of some kind. Then it’ll be Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, another non-fiction book and then I’ll touch on this series again with Gunmetal Magic, which stars a very good friend of Kate’s.