Thursday, April 4, 2013

Extracurricular Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels #1
Reviewed by Maggie: April 4, 2013
Published March 27, 2007 by Ace
Goodreads • Buy at AmazonKindleBook Depository

When your entire blogroll recommends a book and your co-blogger threatens public shaming until you read said book, what do you do? Well, you fall asleep the first two times you try to read the book. I mean, the main character was drinking Boone's Farm Hard Lemonade. FFS. How am I supposed to take a mercenary seriously when she drinks something that high schoolers barely get drunk off of? Not only that, it takes place in a future Atlanta where people are driving buggies with horses? Because of magic? What in Boone's Farm hell?


Noelle, I never doubted you. For too long. The third time was a charm. Remember the dynamic between Veronica and Logan in Season 1 of Veronica Mars? Now instead of a tiny blonde, picture all that tension and animosity in these two:
Source: Celebitchy
Kate Daniels is Veronica Mars in the body of former MMA fighter Gina Carano. And Curran... RAWR... Curran is Logan Echolls in the body of Superman Henry Cavill.

I usually complain about all the world building in fantasies, but in this one, we're just dropped into a world of vampires and shapeshifters and ley lines without much explanation. Despite feeling kind of lost in the beginning, what kept me engaged was the dialogue. Kate is snarky as hell. After she finds out that her guardian has been killed, she tries to get involved in the investigation. When asked whether she knows anything about investigative work, she replies,
"Sure. Annoy the people involved until the guilty party tries to make you go away."
Annoy like the wind, Kate! In the course of her investigation, she has to meet with the Master of the Dead and the Beast Lord. While the world and the rules of magic were kind of vague to me, I really liked Ilona Andrews' take on the supernatural. Vampires are mindless, hairless, glitterless bodies that are piloted by necromancers. Shapeshifters aren't limited to the usual werewolves, but there are 337 different varieties, including were-rats, were-bobcats, and were-bears. Fingers crossed that there is a cameo from Magenta the were-hamster from Sky High at some point in the series. There are strict rules in the pack and clear consequences for breaking those rules.

Kate is such a compelling character. She's tough and physically fit -- she has to be since she fights for a living. Whenever she's feeling vulnerable or outmatched, she hides behind a smart-ass bravado. She acknowledges she is not the feminine ideal, but she left any wallowing about her appearance behind when she was 14. Why?
"Survival took precedence over fashion."
Bravo. She's not entirely certain about how she's handling the investigation, but she's determined to bring her guardian's killer to justice.

The verbal sparring between Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, is fantastic. Curran is someone who demands instantaneous respect. Kate chafes at authority figures. Put them in a room together and you don't get any insta-love. I highlighted at least one line from each of their interactions and cracked up over the rest.

Magic Bites is a supernatural version of Criminal Minds meets Veronica Mars. There are a lot of dead bodies and a lot of snark. I finally found an urban fantasy series to challenge Mercy Thompson. Round one goes to Mercy, but I can't wait to start round two.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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