Series: Kate Daniels #7
Published by Ace Books on July 29, 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
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In the latest novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews, no matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…
As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, but she must now deal with the affairs of the Pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel, ancient being with godlike powers.
As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend a gathering of leaders from Atlanta’s supernatural factions. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered by a shapeshifter, Kate is given less than twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war that could destroy everything she holds dear…
I may have been late to the game, but even though I started reading Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series just a few short weeks ago, I can now say I’m all caught up! Having been gifted copies of the first six books, I bought the seventh book, which was released in July 2014, and read it in one afternoon! If you’ve read my earlier Series Spotlight on the Kate Daniels novels (and I recommend you do, because I’m not going to talk much about what has happened in the series before this point), you’ll know I was converted to instant fandom, which happens less and less frequently than I’d like. So when I had a free afternoon to settle in with Book 7, I knew I was in for a treat.
Except that I was immediately put off by the fact that the book started with a character index that, in my opinion, had no business being in the beginning of a book. If I were a new reader, I would have been happy to be linked to said index at the end of the book, but as someone who has been following this series keenly, I was not pleased to have the first few minutes reading character descriptions of people I’d met in the previous books. This was followed by a kind of prologue from the journal of Barabas, which summed up all the pertinent events in the series thus far, something I would have appreciated had I not been compelled to go through the first several pages of info dumping, even if I did appreciate the addition of a map of post-Shift Atlanta. Of course, I could have skipped the character list, but I worried that I would miss something (and indeed a few bits of information had me raising my eyebrows because they weren’t in the previous six books that I could recall). I’m not sure if this list is present in the print version of this book. I hope not.
So, anyway, with both the obligatory exposition as well as the unnecessary one out of the way, I finally got down to the business of actually reading the book. By the end of chapter 1, my face relaxed (and it was at this point that I realized I had been scowling at my poor iPad’s Kindle app for some time), and by the middle of chapter 2, I was happily tearing through the pages, absolutely hooked.
This novel was as action-packed as the rest of the series, and I had several moments while reading it in which I had to bite down on the urge to say “Finally!” out loud. I had the greatest sense of relief when I figured out that this was the novel in which kickass Kate (that’s what I call her in my head) and her Beast Lord, Curran, finally have to deal with Big Baddie Daddy Roland. To be honest, while I enjoyed book 6, enough is enough when it comes to Minion Hugh, as we’ve already gotten to see him defeated by Kate as well as by Curran. Other moments that almost had me exclaiming aloud were the resolution of the Jennifer situation as well as the opportunity to learn about the Rat shifter alphas and about Master of the Dead Ghastek (thank god!), whom I hope we’ll see more of in the next book, Magic Shifts, which is out in August and available for pre-order.
View Spoiler »I really appreciated how smartly Andrews handled the long-awaited confrontation between father and daughter. Some might think of it as anticlimactic, I think, but I think it’s a smart move for a series that promises to deliver more kickass goodness.
Here’s where so many series I’ve read go wrong: having built up the big baddie as having immense power and pretty much damn undefeatable by the game and good-hearted yet relatively inexperienced heroine (because, yeah, Kate may have been training from infancy, but Roland has 5,000 years under his belt), too many authors have the hero or heroine pull a hail Mary kind of move and have them inexplicably defeating their enemy, then try to make up for it by having them be gravely injured (they survive, of course) or chalking it up to luck. But that’s weak. And as a reader, you’re left wondering, “Okay, what now?” At which point the obvious solution for a writer who wants to keep writing the series is to come up with another baddie, this time bigger and badder than the last. But in the face of continually bad odds, how many lucky breaks can characters keep getting without readers cluing in? Not many, I’d wager.
So the way Andrews has handled this is smart and sustainable. At the end of this book, Kate hasn’t won the war in any manner of speaking. Andrews is very careful to point out that Kate has no way to beat Roland at this time. It’d be much like a newborn kitten (or bunnycat!) taking on a lion. And she’s not stupid enough to lay her life upon the altar of her stepdaddy Voron’s cause. But she does win a skirmish, one that turns out to be more of a test. What’s better is that Andrews had me wondering if the inevitable full showdown with Roland wasn’t so inevitable after all. Thanks to this novel, we finally get to meet him, rather than hearing about him second-hand. And he’s way more interesting and complex than previous baddies have led us to believe. So this is a great big yay in my book. « Hide Spoiler
While the exorbitant amount of exposition at the beginning of the book means that a reader new to this series might be able to follow along in terms of this story, I think that starting with this book and then backtracking would be a mistake. For one thing, Kate and Curran spend a good chunk of this novel apart, and while they are clearly a unit, if you haven’t read any of the books before this, you probably won’t be able to achieve as satisfying an emotional investment in them as a couple.
For another thing, because you haven’t lived vicariously through all the crap Kate had to go through to get to this point, you might not appreciate the decisions she makes (or you may feel that she makes these lightly, because she doesn’t). It’s an immensely satisfying novel for someone who has been anticipating the events that occur in it for six or more books (hello, spinoffs) now, but I don’t know if you would be as happy with it if this was your introduction to the world of Kate Daniels.
As an added note, though, this book comes with a short story featuring Julie! For an extra half hour or so, it kept me from gnashing my teeth in impatience because Book #8 won’t be available for another six months!
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