Magic Bleeds: Bursting at the seams with plot

urban fantasy book reviews Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Magic BleedsMagic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsEver since that teaser chapter at the end of On the Edge, we Ilona Andrews fans have been dying to get our hands on Magic Bleeds (2010). Curran stands Kate up, and when she calls the Keep trying to reach him, his people give her a humiliating brush-off. Not knowing why this happened, and what happens next, has had us anxious for months! Well, fellow Andrews fans, this is the book you’ve been waiting for. And the first thing you want to know, I’m sure, is “is it worth the wait?”

In a word, yes!

Kate Daniels is my favorite urban fantasy series, yet between books, I sometimes forget just how much I’m craving this character, this voice. I don’t realize how much I’ve missed it until I can sink into it again. When I reached these lines —

Who the hell would attack the Steel Horse anyway? What was the thinking behind that? “Here is a bar full of psychotic killers who grow giant claws and people who pilot the undead for a living. I think I’ll go wreck the place.”

— I said, out loud, “My girl’s back!”

Kate goes to the aforementioned wrecked bar to investigate, and finds a scene of horror. Someone incited a bar brawl, then murdered one of the regulars and loosed a potentially devastating plague. Kate must figure out who has done this and why, then eradicate the threat. The solution, when it’s revealed, is really clever. I’m even more impressed with it now that I’ve looked up the myth on which it’s based.

(She also finds a dog. Every scene involving the dog is wonderful. And just wait till you find out what Kate names the dog and why she picks that name.)

Magic Bleeds is bursting at the seams with plot. In addition to the mysterious disease-spreading entity, Kate has to deal with shapeshifter politics, the slick machinations of Saiman, and plenty of upheavals in her personal and professional life.

And Curran. Kate tries so hard to put Curran out of her mind, but he’s prominent enough in supernatural Atlanta that she keeps running into painful reminders of him. When the two finally speak again, it’s explosive. These two are infuriating, frustrating, and perfect for each other. I kept wanting to reach into the book and knock their heads together! So. Much. Pride. So. Much. Stubbornness. It’s great fun and incredibly tense at the same time.

All of this is narrated in Kate’s snarky voice. Her voice feels like an old friend at this point and adds some comic relief to a pretty dark story. Magic Bleeds has about the same level of gore as Magic Bites, which is to say a lot. It’s just violence violence this time rather than sexual violence, though, so many readers may find it more palatable.

I liked Magic Strikes just a little bit more than Magic Bleeds, but that’s like saying I like the raspberry Ghirardelli chocolates better than the caramel ones. Magic Bleeds is a terrific urban fantasy novel and a worthy addition to a great series. If you’re new to Kate Daniels, you’ll want to start with the earlier books; the events of this book are much more affecting if you’ve read the build-up. If you’ve been following Kate’s adventures, don’t hesitate to pick this up!

~Kelly LasiterKate Daniels (10 Book Series) by Ilona Andrews urban fantasy book reviews


urban fantasy book reviews Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Magic BleedsKate Daniels is a hard-as-they-come heroine with magic, swordsmanship and a very interesting history. Ilona Andrews delivers another wonderful installment with Magic Bleeds. As good as the books have been so far, Andrews takes the elements of action and personal interaction that are at the core of good urban fantasy and uses them artistically to tell another great story.

Kate is special among the glut of urban fantasy heroines because she loses fights, gets hurt, and has not compromised her standards just because she’s in love. She is still a bad-ass, but you have to respect her for making tangible sacrifices in order to do what needs to be done.

In Magic Bleeds, Kate tries to balance her obligations to the many interests in Atlanta against her personal desires and we can see how she gets caught wanting to do two things at once. When conflicts between an employer and her commitment to a faction of the paranormal community arise, Kate has to make some choices that have real consequences that can’t be fixed with a winsome smile and a flash of cleavage.

Ilona Andrews continues to give us solid supporting characters in Magic Bleeds, too. The ongoing romantic entanglement between Kate and Curran keeps you smiling, laughing and engrossed. It’s the sort of romantic interaction that is not off-putting for someone (like me) who reads these books for the fantasy first and the relationships second. I really liked some of the continued interplay with Ghastek, the Master of the Dead, because of some of the additional light she sheds on the necromancer/vampire segment of the community. Andrews never skimps on details.

Magic Bleeds is exactly what I wanted to see from the series. More world building, more character development and a whole bunch of bloody action that makes you stick to the story to see what happens next. This series is rapidly becoming my favorite in the urban fantasy genre… which is really saying something.

~John Hulet


urban fantasy book reviews Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Magic BleedsWhile Magic Bleeds doesn’t quite hit the heights of the third book, Magic Strikes, it’s still a great, action-packed book.

As a mercenary peacekeeper, Kate gets called to investigate a strangely intense fight at a bar. When she gets there, there’s a body strung up on a utility pole, pinned to it with a crowbar. The body is very dead … but the deadly disease that infests him is NOT. As magically virulent flesh-colored fuzz starts creeping toward Kate and others, it’s all Kate can do to try to contain it within magical ward circles.

This is just the start of troubles for Kate. Two more attacks occur, more dead bodies pile up, more magically mobile diseases attack. As it turns out, someone with a very long relationship (think centuries, even millennia) with Kate’s magical father has Kate, the Pack, and Atlanta generally in their sights.

Meanwhile, after things had started looking up for Kate’s slow-developing relationship with Curran the Beast Lord at the end of book #3, it all comes crashing down at the beginning of this one: Curran doesn’t show up for an EXTREMELY significant dinner for two, with no explanation, and Kate gets blown off when she calls the Keep (the shapeshifter’s Atlanta compound) to check on him. Being Kate, she doesn’t take it at all well. The question is, who can out-stubborn who?

Magic Bleeds is a solid entry in the KATE DANIELS urban fantasy series, with the familiar mixture of vampires, werewolves and other shapechangers, ancient and exotic gods (this type we’re dealing with Babylonian legends), sometimes unreliable magic, and a major helping of snark. This one is noteworthy for some serious changes in Kate’s life and some significant revelations about her past and her ancestry.

You know those books that keep you up way too late at night because you just need to finish them since you just can’t leave the characters hanging where they are? Yeah, this is one of those. And the second time I read it, instead of staying up all hours, I read it during the day while I should’ve been doing other things. But Curran and Kate kept calling to me.

~Tadiana Jones


urban fantasy book reviews Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Magic BleedsThese are getting better and better. This one is often funny and the narrator of the audiobook, Renee Raudman, has finally really got the hang of capturing Kate’s voice.

~Kat Hooper

Published in 2010. The fourth Kate Daniels novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author who “defines urban fantasy” (Fresh Fiction). Kate Daniels works for the Order of the 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 midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family…

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years. We still hear from him every once in a while.

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TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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9 comments

  1. Kelly, you and John have convinced me that I should read these. I’ll put on my TBR list and listen to the audiobook version.

  2. You really should. Watch your step and don’t fall in the small plot hole in the first one, and after that they’re amazing. (Even the first one is *good*. It’s just not *amazing*.)

  3. And I hope they have a good reader. Kate’s voice makes or breaks the series and they’d better have someone who can really nail her personality. :thumb:

  4. I just listened to the sample at Audible and the reader sounds really good. Not a sweet cloying voice (I hate that).

  5. I can’t wait to get my hands on Magic Bleeds. I loved Magic Strikes so I was worried that the next book wouldn’t measure up to that level of awesomeness but from your review and others I’ve read I have nothing to fear.

  6. @Kat: Sweet and cloying would be all wrong for her! :) Glad it’s a good voice.

    @Bookie: Nope, nothing to fear. I liked the third one better, but not by leaps and bounds. Both are awesome. :)

  7. This turned out to be one of my top 5 ongoing series. But as with the Dresden files, I almost didn’t get through the first book. In fact, I almost didn’t get through the first chapter of the first book. Glad now that I didn’t quit.

  8. Kelly L. /

    @Stephen, I had trouble with the first book too, and I sometimes think the main reason I did go on to read book two was that I had taken both of them on vacation with me and didn’t have much else to read. And then from book two on, I was hooked.

    • Arcanist Lupus /

      I actually skipped the first book at first (although I’ve since gone back and read it.)

      I’d found the second book and seen that it looked interesting, and since the reviews here of the second were much better than the first, I skipped the first and just jumped in there. The second book makes an excellent starting point – it recaps all the important details of the first book well, and none of the relationships have developed far enough yet that you loose too much history.

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