Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Magic Strikes: Kate Daniels Book #3


Drafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with these days. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot.

But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games – an invitation only, no holds barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament – she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shapeshifting community…

Excerpt here

When MS was first released, I tore through it like a kid on a candy binge. My immediate reaction was a joyful squee – magic, modern gladiatorial contests, more dribbles of Kate’s backstory, and mmm Curran. Second and third readings quickly followed. 

When readers last saw Kate, she had just survived a magic flare in which gods tried to walk the earth again. Her new niece, a street rat orphaned by the flare, was settled in school, and she was home, hiding from the future and from Curran, the Beast Lord who had covertly declared his interest in her despite the fact that she regularly enrages him.

MS opens with Kate dealing with three seemingly unrelated problems:  her sidekick, Derek, is breaking a big, big rule of the Pack, risking serious punishment; a business contact wants her help assessing a team of fighters in the Midnight Games; and, someone or something has killed a member of the Pack. Plus, Kate’s doing her best to avoid Curran (short term) and ride under the radar (larger issue that is part of the overall story arc).  Of course, the three story lines are not as distinct as they appear at the outset, and all the questions lead back to the Midnight Games, the highly illegal gladiatorial games being held in Atlanta.

 I love Kate’s voice — her combination of pop culture references, snark, and practicality.  

“What kind of shapeshifter has orange fur anyway?”

“Weredingo.”

Now I’d seen everything. Well, at least he didn’t steal my baby.

And

She called me “ma’am”. I waited for the sky to split and belch forth the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, but for some reason they failed to appear.

Book Three seems (to me) to be a book in which characters become more fully fleshed. Motivations, histories and backstories that were hinted at in the first two books are move fully revealed. Jim, Kate’s erstwhile mercenary partner, becomes more than just a mysterious secondary character who comes and goes in this book; Derek, Kate’s teenaged werewolf sidekick, gets into trouble not only because of his teenaged hormones but because of his own troubled history. And a little bit more is revealed about Curran and his burdens as Beast Lord.

“I’ve had lots of practice [at getting people to do things they don’t want to do]. The Pack contains thirty-two species in seven tribes, each with their own hang-up. Jackals and coyotes pick fights with wolves, because they have an inferiority complex and think they’ve got something to prove. Wolves believe themselves to be superior, marry the wrong people, and then refuse to divorce them because they cling to their ‘mating for life’ idiocy. Hyenas listen to nobody, screw everything, and break out in berserk rages at some perceived slight against one of their own. Cats randomly refuse to follow orders to prove they can. That’s my life. I’ve been at this for fifteen years now. You’re easy by comparison.”

Kate herself reveals more of her own history, and the future confrontation that begins to appear inevitable. One of my concerns about Kate as a heroine at the outset of the series was that she was so utterly alone – as an urban fantasy or paranormal convention, the aloneness of the heroine is problematic because the lack of community is so often a weakness or vulnerability for her later on. In this case, though, Andrews has gradually been building Kate’s circle of friends and family – her reasons for isolation were reasonable, but now that she has made a conscious decision to abandon them, she is building an actual life, rather than just waiting for an opportunity to strike.  Having said that, she’s still wary about who she lets in her life and how much of herself she shares with them; and she’s running as fast as she can from her attraction to Curran, because it can only end badly as far as she’s concerned.

I read a comment online (at AAR maybe?) in which the poster was concerned about Kate going the Anita Blake route, sprouting a new power at will. I’m not worried about that with Kate – mostly because it feels like there is a lot about her that readers still don’t know, that Kate herself doesn’t know and will only learn about as she grows stronger.

Despite the increased character development, this was not a slowly paced book. There was action and plotting all over the place. Who are these mysterious gladiators who appear to be human fight and heal as if they aren’t? What is their interest in the Wolf Diamond, a topaz the size of a baby’s head? Who is killing Pack members, and how did Derek get involved?  Who is the Sultan of Death and why is he plotting to weaken the Pack? [Read the book and find out!]

I do have some questions about world building:

*What’s up with the engine and propellers of the zimana? It was perplexing to think of something that mechanical/technical working in the Unicorn, so they must be magic in some way, yes? Rather like the feylanterns, some combination of magic that masquerades as a sort of tech?

*Some things from before the magic rose are still remembered/retained: Terminator 2; Agatha Christie novels, The Princess Bride. But Bono was a long dead and forgotten singer (in 2039?)? Pop culture is fickle, but that seems extremely fickle. 

*How quickly did society break down when tech fell? Is there a unified government still in the US, or are there divisions? [Since Roland seems to have claimed a swath of what had been states.]

*Why was MSDU from Atlanta called in when Roland tried to raise another tower in Book Two? Distant travel seems arduous, would they be called that far?

Quibbles: normally don’t question an author’s stylistic choices, but there were two word choices that seemed to be used incorrectly. First, in one scene: “He put the chair next to me, back first, and saddled it like a horse…” Uh, no. Unless he actually had a saddle, what he did was straddle the chair like a horse. Second, “I’ve taken your food, under duress, but I did take it.” Duress denotes force or coercion, and there was none; trickery and ignorance, yes, but no force. 

Second: the make up of electrum is 55% gold, 45% silver, 3% copper, and “the rest is random crap” adding up to more than 103% — is there An Even Newer Math in this post-shift world?

A white tiger stood in my living room.” Is this a pop culture reference that I’m missing? They weren’t in Kate’s living room but a safe house’s living room.

The power word hessaad has changed spelling – it was hesaad earlier.

A- from me.
 

“Magic Mourns”, a story with secondary characters from this world, will be part of the Must Love Hellhounds anthology due out in September.  Information here

 And the currently unnamed Kate Daniels Book 4 will likely be out next spring; a rough draft of the intro is available here.  

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

  1. You are so much better at catching the little glitches than me. If I find one I think “oh this must be really glaring for me to notice”.
    Yep, I agree with you: reading this series just makes me internally squee to myself.

    • This is going to sound terrible, but the little things are things that will put me off reading an author more than big world building holes will.

      • Ooo, that’s interesting. It’s fascinating what everyone’s hot buttons are. I really feel oblivious sometimes to things that drive other people crazy. Of course when people point it out, THEN I notice.
        But you still gave this an A- so I think this series is safe? I’ll be SHOCKED, SHOCKED I TELL YOU if you stopped reading it – who doesn’t like Kate Daniels?! (Ok my best friend wasn’t totally sold when I shoved this series in her face, but still).

      • Yep, it’s safe πŸ™‚ I want to see what happens when Kate confronts the Big Bad. And I’m impatient for Book 4 already.

  2. Anonymous

    This is one series I’ve lagged on
    I plan to rectify that. Thanks for the awesome review though I can’t help ya with the worldbuilding questions.
    Keishon

  3. Anonymous

    I…have never cared for Lassie, so that commercial didn’t work for me. But I know a lot of people loved it πŸ™‚

  4. Anonymous

    There was one mark from the river monster but that’s it. And doesn’t it eventually get erased?
    I don’t think of Mercy as quite that stacked.She mentions going bra-less a few times and that woman would be uncomfortable if she did.
    I don’t like is the come hither look. The one thing I like about that character is that she doesn’t go looking for trouble — it comes to her. That’s a BRING IT ON sort of a posture.

  5. Anonymous

    Ha! Glad you liked the Frankie book. I agree–unreliable narrator.
    What about the IASPR thing? I need a report.
    I sort of reported on RWA on my blog, but it’s all personal not real informative.
    I no longer bother with “This is what publishers are looking for” because that’ll change in a week. Besides what they want is the same thing already out there only fresh. Another reason I couldn’t write an informative post: I didn’t go to a single publisher spotlight so I’d have to make it up.
    wait! family dramas set in small towns are in (that might actually be sort of true. I heard that rumor.)
    Happy 4th of July!!!!

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