Book: Magic Bleeds
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels, Book 4
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release: May 25, 2010
Length: 384 pages (Paperback)
Rating: B- (80 / 100)
Ilona Andrews has topped herself yet again. Magic Bleeds is the best entry yet in the Kate Daniels series.
Though the series isn’t in the same league as giants of the genre like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, it is still a great bit of casual reading, being one of the best urban fantasy series out there featuring a female protagonist. And, while the series is often characterized as paranormal romance, Andrews keeps the romance low-key enough to avoid alienating male readers who pick up the books for their excellent action sequences.
Pros: Excellent dialogue. Snarky humor. Good action sequences. Satisfying payoff on story arc. Interesting magic system / setting.
Cons: Plot is a bit short and shallow. Feels like sword and sorcery.
In Brief: Picking up where Magic Strikes left off, Magic Bleeds opens with Kate preparing for her date with Curran when trouble rolls into town. Someone is tracking down the Atlanta’s greatest fighters to steal their vital essence and leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake. When Kate investigates, she quickly uncovers new family ties behind the incident.
Official: Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. 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.
Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle – especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community. When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers that there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years – and who rode to war at the side of Kate’s father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curren, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family.
The Kate Daniels series has been a satisfying, if unremarkable, urban fantasy series up to this point, roughly on par with Laurell K. Hamilton’s popular Meredith Gentry novels. It makes for some great light reading, but it still doesn’t compare with the giants of the genre, like Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files or Mike Carey’s Felix Castor series. It should be noted however, in the interest of delivering a fair and balanced review, that, being a male reader, I may be biased towards stories featuring male protagonists.
To the positive, this series does have a large number of virtues to recommend it. It is centered around a cast of well-developed and believable characters. It features action scenes that are both exciting and highly original, even in the fantasy genre. And, it manages to balance out the drama of its romantic elements with biting humor and some explosive action scenes.
Best of all, each book in the series in notably better than the last. Illona Andrews is slowly growing her series into the enormous potential of its highly innovative magic system, premise, and setting. This entry in particular clearly marks a major turning point in the series, and the book’s highly gratifying ending only promises better things ahead.
Magic Bleeds picks up where Magic Strikes left off. Kate’s true identity is on the verge of being exposed. Her position within the Order is tenuous. She’s conflicted over her relationship with Curran. Plus, there’s the small matter of settling up the bet she lost in the previous book. Just a normal day for our snarky heroine.
Within a matter of chapters, the story picks up the tempo of the series and character development swings into overdrive, advancing the story arc more than either of the previous two books combined. Kate and Curran finally resolve the tension between them, which may not be the average male reader’s cup of tea, but the romantic scenes are soon after offset by a fantastic series of fight scenes.
Magic Bleeds also finally fills in some much needed backstory on Roland and Curran, which lends the series a new depth. With that depth, the Kate Daniels series finally comes of age.
If you enjoy urban fantasy and you aren’t reading this series, pick it up, especially if you enjoy series with a strong female lead.
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