Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2)
Penguin (1st April, 2008)
Good news, everyone – Book 2 in the Kate Daniels series (Magic Burns) is better than Book 1 (Magic Bites). The first had its charms – solid world-building with no need for romance, and the fascinating idea of upir. But I read it over the course of several days while going through personal stuff, so I don’t remember much.
This sequel, however, is much more memorable, and starts off really well. The writing is smooth, and the story is easy to follow. But as it delves deeper into magic, mythology, monsters and swords (sorry to ruin the alliteration), it becomes more complicated and further out of the realm that my tiny brain can comprehend.
I love the world-building. Atlanta has two stages in time – tech (when life is as we know it) and magic. But the transitions between the two are getting faster, and Celtic mythology comes to life. (That sounds vague, I know, but I didn’t really understand it.)
Kate Daniels (whose father is supposedly Russian, but you wouldn’t know it from her surname) still has her almighty saber Slayer, but also has a new companion: teenager Julie, whose wannabe witch mother is missing.
And then there’s Curran, who wasn’t much of a love interest in Magic Bites). (An urban fantasy without nookie? It made for a welcome reprieve for this often sex-soaked genre.) I’ve read enough reviews, interviews and blogs to know that people are really pushing for Kate and Curran to get together. But I don’t like Curran. Had he simply been called an Alpha, I would’ve accepted that. But no: he’s a Beast Lord. Yeah, bit over-the-top, and he has the up-himself mentality to match. (If you don’t know what up himself means, please consult your chosen Australian vernacular expert.)
So other than Curran’s smug personality, what’s not to like about him? He breaks into Kate’s house…and she doesn’t kick his arse for it. For a supposed Kickass Heroine ™, this is disappointing.
Parts of the story veer dangerously into trash territory. Kate’s mortified when people see her underwear, and its adornments. I would’ve been more concerned about people seeing leg hair or…”hair down there”, shall we say. Or haven’t you heard? No woman in fiction has hair except for on her scalp and eyebrow. My suspension of disbelief only goes so far, people 😉
And Kate pervs on Curran working out. Yep, trashy romance. Not for me. I prefer Raphael.
But the author has fabulously intriguing ideas: like the shapeshifter caught between forms. The Lycos Virus is a fascinating, painful thing as demonstrated within these pages. Also interesting is the bouda, a werehyena – now she’s a nifty character I’d like to read more about.
Then there’s Corwin. You’ve read enough of people shifting into animals, but Corwin is the opposite – an animal who Shifts into a human. This is why Ilona Andrews is one of the best world-builders around with some truly new ideas to add to the urban fantasy genre.
But be warned: Curran has a speech that tries to be Braveheart, but comes across more as an American high school football coach. Coming from a culture where we have no school spirit, I found that kind of lame. But I take my humour where I can get it.
So if you want to read some of the best world-building in the biz, Ilona Andrews writes it. Just ignore Curran and the confusing fight scenes, and you’ll find this quite to your liking – I know I’ll be back for more. B