Note: Some spoilers for earlier books in the series
In Magic Binds (2016), the ninth book in Ilona Andrews’ KATE DANIELS urban fantasy series, Kate, a mercenary with awe-inspiring sword-fighting and magical abilities, and Curran, her shapeshifter mate and the former Beast Lord, have decided to officially tie the knot. After dealing with several obstacles to get to the home of their friend Roman, the priest of Chernobog, the Russian dark god, including a pony-sized black scorpion (“If we killed his pet scorpion, we’d never hear the end of it”), they ask Roman to marry them. Roman is absolutely delighted ― as the Black God’s priest, no one ever asks him to marry them ― and in one of the funniest running gags ever, he proceeds to hound and even threaten Kate to take care of all of the normal wedding preparations: guest list, invitations, cake, flowers, dress fittings, etc. Kate would far rather just show up and tie the knot and forget about the mundane planning and details, but Roman is bound and determined that she and Curran are going to do this wedding thing right.
Kate, however, has far more important things to worry about than a nice wedding ceremony. Kate’s father Roland is an immortal wizard who has the unfortunate habit of murdering his children for fear that they’ll destroy him, as well as anyone else who gets in his way or won’t obey him. Currently he’s building a large castle just outside of Atlanta and has been not-so-subtly challenging Kate’s claim to the town, including kidnapping Kate’s old friend Saiman. And now the Witch Oracle has told Kate that either Curran or Kate’s future son is fated to die at her father’s hands, and in either case Atlanta will burn and thousands will die. As far as the witches can tell, there’s no way around either of these terrible futures. The only thing Kate can think of is to do something absolutely crazy and wildly unexpected to change the future ― something so dangerous and awful that she can’t even tell Curran her plans. Good times!
Kate Daniels fans will adore this latest book in the series. The plot is intense, the wedding planning adds a new development to the series, and Kate’s ongoing conflict with Roland is more spectacular and direct than ever before. The characters in this series are well-rounded; the evil characters have some positive attributes, and the good characters struggle with dark urges or weaknesses. Frequent sarcastic humor helps to lighten the tension and the death and destruction that occur. The trademark wittiness that marks this series is as strong as ever, particularly when Roman periodically pops up to try to pin Kate down on her wedding plans:
“Mary very kindly agreed to bring over samples so you could select a wedding cake.”
“I did.” Mary nodded.
“Mary turns into a grizzly. A very large grizzly.”
“I know who Mary is,” I told him. “I met her before, at Andrea’s wedding.”
“If you don’t pick a wedding cake, Mary will sit on you and stuff all this cake into your mouth until you make a selection.”
If I have any complaint about Magic Binds, it would be that the long build-up to the conflict with Roland fizzles a bit in the end. But that’s a relatively minor quibble. Magic Binds was a terrifically exciting, compelling read. I read it in one day because I couldn’t stand to go to bed with it unfinished. My husband was probably rolling his eyes at how long I was glued to my Kindle reader that day, but a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do.
If you aren’t already a fan of the KATE DANIELS series, you definitely need to start at the beginning, with Magic Bites. Each book in this series builds on the ones before, including new recurring characters and developments, and Magic Binds is no exception. It contains some major spoilers for the prior books, and some of the events won’t make much sense unless you’ve read the prior books. So this is a series that you really ought to read in order (says the person who hasn’t always done that). Now I just need to go back and read books 6 through 8 before book 10 is published …
I’ve been collecting this series in audio format and look forward to reading it after it’s finished.