Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
No sophomore slump here! Ilona Andrews follows — and tops — her debut novel with an excellent sequel, Magic Burns (2008).
We get some more world-building. Andrews explains, in a way that flows smoothly with the story and doesn’t feel like an infodump, the theory as to why the magic and tech have gone wonky in the first place. We also learn about magic flares, which occur roughly every seven years. During these upsurges in magic, powerful and dangerous summonings can be done. As Magic Burns begins, a magic flare has kicked in and Kate finds herself entangled in the mystery of a witch coven who disappeared after getting in over their heads.
Kate is growing as a character as this series progresses. In Magic Burns, she lets a few more people into her heart, and I don’t just mean romantically (though the romantic tension between her and Curran is just enough to be lots of fun without dominating the story). We also learn a few more tantalizing hints about Kate’s parentage and about the powers she keeps under wraps.
The mystery/supernatural plot is more layered than that of Magic Bites, and better executed. Andrews continues to root her plots in a diverse range of mythology and folklore rather than sticking to the current urban fantasy trends. This time, everything’s more complicated, because the good guys and bad guys are less clearly delineated, and Kate has to navigate a minefield of other people’s competing agendas. The pace is fast, and there are no “Huh?” moments like the one I had in Magic Bites.
Andrews has also toned down the gore. There’s still plenty of violence, but if you thought there were a few too many explicit descriptions of cannibalism and rape in Magic Bites, you’ll probably like Magic Burns better.
Magic Burns just earned Andrews a place on my very short “snap up on sight” list. She’s one of the most original voices currently writing in the urban fantasy subgenre, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
After I finished the first book of Ilona Andrews’ KATE DANIELS series I was seriously worried that we were headed down the path to another of the too-powerful-to-be-believable heroines. The characters were interesting and Ms Andrews’ idea for bringing magic and technology together was good, but I seriously wondered if our heroine was going to be another Anita Blake who develops new powers every other page.
But, Ilona Andrews gets a big thumb up for letting her heroine get her butt royally kicked several times in Magic Burns. She’s still a really bratty, smart-mouthed girl who happens to be really, really powerful in magic and other things. But, here’s the great part: there is a good explanation for a lot of it. She doesn’t just magically have powers — she has been to schools and she studies on her own to get better. What? A heroine who works at it?? Thank you, Ms. Andrews, for writing with your brain intact.
Magic Burns starts up pretty much were the first book left off. Kate, our heroine, is still struggling financially, has a hard time keeping a boyfriend, and doesn’t play nice with others. Her interactions with other paranormal groups continue and she keeps trying to do good while staying as sassy and likeable as before.
The storyline follows Kate through the advent of a major surge/spike in magic and the interactions of several different groups who are being affected. The Beastlord who she flirted/fought with during Magic Bites remains a strong supporting character, but Ilona Andrews doesn’t just throw them together for the almost mandatory sex scenes that these books too often include without reason. Again, nice job Ms. Andrews.
Kate Daniels is my favorite kick-ass heroine. She’s impertinent:
The vampire stared at me, his mouth slack as Ghastek assessed his options. I took a couple of forms from my desk, put them in the vampire’s mouth, and pulled them up by their edges.
“What are you doing?” Ghastek asked.
“My hole puncher broke.”
“You have no respect for the undead.”
And she’s quick and tough as nails:
“I tell you what, you put the maps right here on the bed. On the count of three, we each grab them. If you win, I tell you who he is. If I win, I get you. . . On three. One,” he said, bending forward like a runner. “Two.”
He lunged for the maps. I grabbed the chair and hit him with it. He went down. I hit him again to make sure he stayed that way, stepped over him, and picked up the maps. “I win. Your problem is, you underestimate me because I’m a woman.”
These books aren’t terribly deep, but they’re a lot of fun.
I’m starting to warm up to Kate, but it’s taking me a little longer than it took my colleagues above.
The audio performance by Renee Raudman is improving as she settles into the role of Kate Daniels.
Yep, which is why I'm willing to give a sequel a shot
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