Series Spotlight: Kate Daniels novels by Ilona AndrewsKate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels
Published by Ace Books Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
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The world has suffered a magic apocalypse. We pushed the technological progress too far, and now magic returned with a vengeance. It comes in waves, without warning, and vanishes as suddenly as it appears. When magic is up, planes drop out of the sky, cars stall, electricity dies. When magic is down, guns work and spells fail.

It’s a volatile, screwed-up world. Magic feeds on technology, gnawing down on skyscrappers until most of them topple and fall, leaving only skeletal husks behind. Monsters prowl the ruined streets, werebears and werehyenas stalk their prey; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds.

In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But sometimes even trained killers make friends and fall in love, and when the universe tries to kick them in the face, they kick back.

Reading order:

  1. Magic Bites
  2. Magic Burns
  3. Magic Strikes
  4. Magic Bleeds
  5. Magic Slays
  6. Magic Rises
  7. Magic Breaks
  8. Magic Shifts (Review here)
Specials & World of Kate Daniels

There are some books you just keep meaning to get around to reading and never quite seem to find the time for. And there are some series that just hit you like a freight train and take you for a ride so that, if you’re able, you’ll read all the books you can get your hands on, one after another. Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, which begins with the New York Times bestselling novel Magic Bites, fills both these slots for me.

I’ve been meaning to get into the series for years. Andrews (the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team) is frequently compared to some of my favorite authors: Jeaniene Frost and Patricia Briggs have come right out and endorsed the books as awesome reads, and her novellas have been in anthologies alongside Nalini Singh, Jim Butcher, and more. I’ve also read the pair’s best-selling The Edge, another urban fantasy series, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I just for some reason or other have never managed to sit down with a copy of Magic Bites until recently.

Finally, I had no excuse. A friend who had suggested the series to me upon learning about my fondness for Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series gifted me with the first six Kate Daniels novels. I brought them with me for a weekend at the beach, and it was good thinking too, as it rained most of the time I was there. I ended up tearing through the six novels in three days, firmly cementing my fandom.

There are a few things that had me giving this series a thumbs-up from the get-go. First of all, Kate Daniels herself is a serious butt-kicker with a fierce independent streak and a pile of baggage that nevertheless does not prevent her from delivering a righteous whooping when the situation calls for it. She was raised to be a sociopath, and despite a marked bloodthirstiness, she grabs hold of her humanity with both hands.

Second, there’s the man factor. And while I was instantly intrigued by Curran, the grumpy, overprotective hulk of a Beast Lord, it didn’t blind me to the fact that Andrews has written a whole lot of guys worthy of book-boyfriend status into this series. I’ve definitely flagged the companion novels to the main series as must-reads, particularly Gunmetal Magic, which features the oh-so-gorgeous and bouda-licious Raphael. And I am crossing my fingers that a few years down the road, we’ll see something develop between the wonder boy, Derek, and Julie.

Which brings me to my third point: a good heroine does not exist in a void, especially in a fantasy series. I loved the richness of the supporting characters and, yes, even the ultimate baddie seems to become more and more complex and multi-dimensional as a character as we learn more about him in each book. I just cannot wait until the showdown—and if it’s in the one book that’s already out that I haven’t read yet, Magic Breaks, well, I’ll find out soon enough!

Fourth, I was totally drawn in by the world Ilona Andrews created around Kate Daniels, with the fluctuating magic and technology waves, the warring shapeshifters and necromancers, and the dark overlord who might end up being nothing more than an imagined monster in a closet or a threat to all our heroine and hero hold dear. I’ve never been to Atlanta, Georgia, but flipping through the pages of these six novels have made me feel like I could walk the streets of Andrews’ post-Apocalyptic version of the city.

Fifth, I can’t resist a good mystery or juicy catastrophe, and Andrews gives us a new one with each volume while still driving the main story arc forward with a skill I’ve grown to appreciate in my love of fantasy series like Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Sunny’s Monere, Briggs’ Alpha and Omega and Mercy Thompson, Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra, and Singh’s Archangel series.

Finally, I just love a good butt-kicking, and Kate Daniels delivers a lot of this. Not to mention that the sparring between her and Curran is definitely the stuff steam is made of. And while the series may not indulge in actual sex scenes, this just opens it up to a wider audience, and the promise of a really good romp is sufficient that imaginative readers can very easily fill in the blanks.

The one thing that had me gnashing my teeth while reading this series, though, was the scrimp on big bad baddie action. By Book #4, I really wanted Roland to make a move already. Book #6 seemed to throw me a crumb, but it really wasn’t enough to satisfy. And while this may be a terribly skillful way to keep fans reading, I can’t imagine how it would be if I had started this series when the first book came out, only to remain Rolandless several years (and books) later. That being said, though, I’m definitely buying Book #7 come payday and Book #8 when it comes out in August.

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