Monday, November 11, 2013

Guest Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites
by Ilona Andrews
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9780441014897
260 pages

Book Jacket Summary:  
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 problems 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 if 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. (Book 1 in the Kate Daniels series.)

My Thoughts: 
I have a love/hate relationship with urban fantasy. One of my problems with the genre has always been that the main character tends to be a witless female protagonist, who creates more problems than she helps to solve, and whose life is completely subsumed by an uncontrollable attraction to a dark and unsuitable, for whatever reason, male. That is not a problem here. Kate is completely competent in her job and fully capable of taking care of herself. Yes she needs help occasionally, but she doesn’t depend on anyone else to get her out of the trouble she knowingly steps into. Kate also interacts with a lot of men, and even dates one throughout the book, but she is always herself – her priorities remain her priorities and she does not allow them to be pushed aside by the pursuit of a love interest. I like that. This book had me from the first page, where the main character knifes a vampire in the throat while drinking Boone's Farm at her kitchen table. Kate's outlook on life and the writing style of the book are both full of dark humor that I found particularly enjoyable.

The story was a bit grittier than the stuff I usually read; zombie fans and CSI enthusiasts might find it right up their alley, but I don't think I've personally ever read a book that uses the word “intestines” so many times. The world building is excellent. The story is set in an alternate universe/dystopian future, where familiar landmarks (familiar to those who know Atlanta anyway) are crumbling and modern culture is a distant memory. The way that technology and magic are intertwined in the lives of the characters is something I've never read before, and definitely begs for future books to be written exploring this world. I particularly enjoyed the way the story turns popular mythology on its head in the attractiveness department: vampires are little more than mindless drones piloted by necronavigators, and werewolves and other shapechangers are almost too dangerous to consider as potential dates, constantly struggling with their animalistic tendencies. I just loved too that the story is set in Georgia, instead of New York or another super popular locale.

Overall, Magic Bites was entirely too much fun to read, and I can't wait to bite into the next book in the series.

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