Book Review: Magic Stars by Ilona AndrewsMagic Stars by Ilona Andrews
Series: Grey Wolf #1
Published by NYLA on December 8, 2015
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
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From award-winning author, Ilona Andrews, an original novella, set in the New York Times #1 bestselling Kate Daniels World and featuring fan-favorites, Derek, and Curran and Kate’s very independent ward, Julie.

Scarred, solitary Derek Gaunt has separated from his Pack, and is truly a lone wolf. With no family he answers to no one; but is fiercely loyal to a chosen few. So, when several of those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched streets of Atlanta.

Never one to be left on the sidelines, equally determined—some might say stubborn—Julie Lennart-Olsen soon joins in his pursuit; and what began as revenge turns into a race to save the city. Their search pits them against powers they never imagined and magic so old, it predates history. It may cost Derek his life, but there are things for which even he would risk everything.

I’m a big Ilona Andrews fan. Which is why, when I learned that a new novella set in the world of Kate Daniels was out, I knew I just had to buy it. Upon reading the description for Magic Stars, the first in a new spinoff  I was even more delighted to find that this book featured two of my favorite supporting characters in the series: Curran’s right-hand and lone wolf Derek Gaunt and Kate Daniels’ adopted daughter Julie Lennart-Olsen.

Both have such rich, textured, and pain-filled histories and yet there’s an obvious connection between them (even discounting Julie’s initial hero worship) that I’ve totally shipped this pairing, as they say, ever since it became a glimmer of a possibility.

But if you’re a fan, before you get too hyped up by the idea of a Jurek romance, I should say that this book brings them closer together and hints at dimensions of their relationship we have yet to see, but they don’t actually have a big romantic moment yet. I love that the authors are taking their time with this couple. The slow burn of Kate and Curran made them well worth the wait, and I’m anticipating the same for when Derek and Julie eventually let themselves be with each other. I could wax eloquent about why this couple should be together, but I won’t, not just yet, as it’s only the first book in the series (and I hope to see more soon!).

When I started reading this, I loved how the authors just jumped right into the action, setting the pace for the entire novella. In the first two chapters of Magic Stars, we see just as many fight scenes. Yet apart from pacing and just general awesomeness, these scenes contribute a lot toward characterization, something you might need if you aren’t too familiar with either Derek or Julie. In the first chapter, it’s all about Derek, and while you get the condensed version of his tragic history as a kind of exposition, the action-packed scene establishes him as hero material: he’s an awesome fighter and quick thinker, but he’s also principled. That his principles may not exactly be that of most people, as far as killing other people is concerned, by no means negates the fact that he has a set of rules and abides by them.

Then as we’re just beginning to learn about the mystery that will be the main plot of this story, Julie comes in, and we learn things about her that Kate isn’t aware of, like the fact that she knows the big secret Kate is keeping from her thanks to her sessions with Kate’s scarily powerful dad. Better yet, we see how much Kate’s efforts to allow Julie a childhood are not quite working; Julie is all grown up and has an impressive maturity for 17. This doesn’t negate the solid foundation of care and compassion Kate and Curran have built for her, but she has been through too much to remain a child, and it’s good to see her come into her own as she does here.

The feel of this novella is somewhat lighter than the usual Kate Daniels fare, and not just because the characters are 17 and 20. It’s also because the problems they face, while filled with intrigue, action, and danger, nevertheless are not quite as potentially apocalyptic as the ones Kate has to deal with. This was something I quite enjoyed because it allowed me to sink my feet into the world the authors have built, which is a truly fascinating and multilayered universe, as well as to see it from a perspective other than Kate’s first-person POV. And while I’m not entirely sure Magic Stars would be quite as enjoyable for someone who has had no grounding in the world of Kate Daniels, I’m sure the legions of Ilona Andrews fans (and I count myself among their number) will get a kick out of it.


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About Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children, and many dogs and cats. They have co-authored two series, the bestselling urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and romantic urban fantasy of The Edge.