magic-bitesAtlanta would be a nice place to live in if it weren’t for the magic…

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 problem 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…

Magic Bites is the first book in the Kate Daniels series, written by husband and wife writing team, Andrew and Ilona Gordan, under the name Ilona Andrews.

When I first read this book last year, I found it difficult to get a handle on the world building.  Part of the reason I love fantasy and sci-fi is being dropped straight into a new world and having to figure out the rules of magic, the similarities and differences with our world.  However this relies on the writer to drop hints in the right order, and in Magic Bites these hints could be confused.  eg: one scene ends with Kate going to a ley-line, and the next scene she is at home.  It isn’t until later in the book that we find out that ley-lines can be used for travel when the magic is up.

I really enjoyed Kate’s character.  Initially she comes across as the typical urban fantasy heroine -smart-mouthed, super strong, and a loner.  As we get to know her better, we see that her smart mouth is a form of self-defence, partically when she is scared.  Kate acknowledges that any male who is as well trained with a sword as she is will beat her.  Her unusual heritage (which is only hinted at) has lead her to be self sufficient; near the end, a comment by a secondary character hints at this changing over the course of the series:

“If I were on my own, packing some power, and for some reason not wanting to be found, I might lie low for a while,  But I’d know that sooner or later I’d have to come out and play, because whoever’s looking for me would eventually find me.  I’d start building some connections.”

Re-reading Magic Bites, the only point that still throws me out of the story occurs in chapter 8.  (Note: Slight spoiler ahead!)

Curran suggests that the guy Kate has dated a couple of times is the monster they are looking for.  After testing he is not, but then everyone acts like it was Kates suggestion.

“Do me a favor,” he [Curran] said. “Next time you get a hunch, don’t tell me.” 

Later:

I had a feeling that Curran was too disgusted with me to care one way or the other.

I’ve gone back several times to try and find where Kate is anything other than reluctant to consider that her date is the monster.  I can only conclude that this is one of those things that gets changed with rewriting and was unfortunately not picked up in the editing process. 

The flaws I have mentioned did not stop me from enjoying Magic Bites, and I went straight out to buy the second book, Magic Burns.  Currently I’m waiting for the just published third book, Magic Strikes, to arrive in my letterbox, hopefully before I leave for New Zealand!

Other books by Ilona Andrews that I have reviewed: Magic Burns

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