Published 2011 308 pages
Reviewed by Ania Tyburska
Summary (from the book jacket)
Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.
Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.
So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price…
This year children’s day came a day earlier for me. May 31st was the publishing date of newest installments in my two favorite urban fantasy/ paranormal romance series: Psy/ Changelings by Nalini Singh and Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews. Unfortunately there are no vampires in Psy/ Changelings (though I am awfully tempted to make an exception and start reviewing the series for this site), so for now I am going to stick to Magic Slays.
Magic Slays is not the best Kate Daniels book in the series and reading it without knowing the story from the beginning might leave anyone seriously confused. But let me start from the beginning. As any good story should, the one of Kate Daniels began 4 books ago, when Kate was a simple merc trying to find her guardian’s murderer. Since then she grew up, changed professions and fell in love. In Magic Slays she is the alpha of Atlanta’s shapeshifter pack and the owner of her own investigation agency. Not that it did her much good, as the agency is pretty much bankrupt due to the lack of clients. Quite surprisingly the only person willing to ask Kate for help is the local vampire master, who happened to lose control of one of his vampires.
Vampires in Kate Daniels universe are not pretty. There are deadly and animalistic. Empty, bloodthirsty vessels that can be piloted by so called masters of the dead. Kate hates them instinctively as the first vampire was a creation of her father, a guy that plans to kill her one day (yes, it is a spoiler, but honesty if you are not aware of Kate’s heritage there is little sense in reading that book). The real juicy bits in the story come from Kate’s interactions with other magical communities in Atlanta. The pack, witches and volhvs, priests to some pagan gods from Easter Europe (let me just state that although I originally come from Eastern Europe, that is the first time I actually encountered that term, so kudos to the author for the research). Her struggles to ascertain herself as a legitimate investigator and ensure her position as the shapeshifters alpha, make for some explosive scenes in the book.
The slight weakness of the story lies in the lack of emotional conflict between the characters. Kate works through some tough truths connected with her personal history and has many doubts connected to her mating with Curran, the beast lord, but somehow all those emotions seem hollow. The previous books described her as a pretty straight forward person. She tells it how it is or rather, kicks whatever it is in the butt. This sudden turn into the land of self- doubt and misgivings just feels wrong and seriously slows the book in the middle. Also the only real pain she actually encounters has to do with her ward, Julie, and I never really warmed up to that character.
Apart of some misplaced emotional accents Magic Slays is a perfect urban fantasy. It is fast, witty and descriptive. Kate is a strong female lead and Curran is perfect for her. His possessive streak makes for some hilarious misunderstandings, but he never steps into this gray area of über- domineering males that treat women as their personal property. From the new characters I especially took to Ascanio, a pretty were- hyena and one of the witches with some family drama. It is obvious that this installment into the serious was indispensable for the author in order to lay some groundwork for the future plots. Let’s hope it will pay off and in the next book the balance between comedy and tragedy is a bit better maintained.
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