Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels # 1
Publisher: Ace Books
Number of pages: 260
My copy: paperback, bought from PowerBooks
When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…
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When I first started reading fantasy by choice, I know I wouldn’t be really interested in any hardcore fantasy novels, like Tolkien or anything similar. I remember saying that my brain can’t possibly process and visualize all the foreign worlds and creatures and such. When I came across Cassandra Clare‘s The Mortal Instruments series, I knew I liked that kind of fantasy — the one still set in the real world yet has fantastical elements. Hello urban fantasy.
I was all set to read more urban fantasy after that, but alas, I fell into YA paranormal and eventually dystopia. I never really thought of actively looking for urban fantasy because of the plethora of books in my TBR pile, plus I wasn’t really sure where to start.
And now I take this time to thank Chachic and Michelle for pushing me in the right direction with Ilona Andrews‘ Kate Daniels series. I’ve told the story of how I got the books here, but if you’re too lazy to click over and come back, here’s the gist: we were book shopping, Chachic showed us the first book, told us all four books were available. I looked at them, listened to the two girls tell me how awesome the series was, and quickly folded, buying all four books in the series at once and starting Magic Bites that night.
And friends, I got hooked.
If you’re planning to read this book, I suggest you read and try to understand the description at the back as much as you can because there are no explanations offered at the start. I was immediately dropped into Kate’s world like that. There were no careful explanations or introductions; I found myself reading about Kate was sitting at her kitchen when magic “fell” and there was suddenly a vampire. All that happened before I could say “What?” and so I had to slow down with reading to really get what was happening. It was kind of disorienting at first, so if you’re not too used to fantasy this may present a little problem.
But don’t give up on it! You will get used to it, and like me, you’ll marvel at the world building that the authors* did in this book. Kate’s world is very believable despite all the magical tendencies, and after some time, I got used to how their world works. As always, there were the vampires and shapeshifters, but they’re not the sparkly vampires or the imprinting shapeshifters that is popular right now. I am very, very relieved to know that these creatures in Kate’s world are not like them, especially the vampires. The book may not have Dracula-like vampires, but they’re written as terrifying creatures. Finally something that made sense! I am overjoyed. :P
I can’t really decide what made this book awesome, but since I have three more books to review for this series, I can discuss the others in their reviews. :P For the first book, I am all praises for the protagonist, Kate. Kate is just…kick-ass. She’s snarky, sassy, tough yet underneath all that, still very feminine. It’s hard not to like her from the very start and love her as the story goes on. There’s an air of mystery around her, too, that made me want to continue reading just to know her past…but in the end, I still don’t know who (or what) she was. Even so, her personality wasn’t hidden so much that I didn’t get to know who she was and the lengths she would go to get what she wants as the story happens. Kate reminds me of one of my favorite heroines of all time, Thursday Next: they’re both very smart and strong female characters, ones that I would love to be if I were made into a book character. :)
Of course I know I haven’t really said much about this book after all that I’ve written in this review. This is a very solid debut from Ilona Andrews. It’s dark, with lots of mystery and action (oh yes, a bit of gore, too), but still with enough snark and sass that I chuckled every now and then. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great start for a series that I immediately grabbed the second book just to be immersed in Kate Daniels’ world.
Once again, thanks to Chachic and Michelle for pushing this one! I can’t wait to find out more about Kate (and Curran! :P) in the next books. :)
* Ilona Andrews is actually the pen name of the husband-wife writer tandem of Ilona and Andrew Gordon. Awesome, yes?