by Ilona Andrews
Since I reviewed Magic Gifts yesterday, I decided I needed to go back and introduce the universe. Magic Bites is the first in a seven-book series, five of which have been published at this point and two of which I am avidly waiting for. While each book has it’s own stand-alone plot, the characters develop across books. There are also four short stories and an upcoming book that are tangential to the main series.
But first, some background:
There have been a huge number of books published recently with:
1. Spunky female protagonist
Off the top of my head, authors who have written these books are:
Laurel K. Hamilton
And whole lot more.
These are, frankly, just the ones that I’ve personally read, and read recently. (Some of these I liked, some of these I didn’t, and I’ll tell you all about it if you ask nicely… or if you refrain from yelling “No!” loudly enough.) There were a lot more whose covers I’ve seen in bookstores and simply couldn’t bear to read because I was positively glutted with spunky female protagonists dealing with vampires and werewolves (SFPDwV&W).
However, I am still going to write a review of Magic Bites recommending this book to all of you other readers out there who are similarly glutted on SFPDwV&W.
It’s fabulous and you should read it.
Ilona Andrews the author, incidentally, is actually made up of a married couple: Ilona Andrews the person and Gordon Andrews her husband. I went to a convention they were at recently and got my copy of Magic Bites signed by Gordon Andrews. He wrote:
This book is terrible. Start with Magic Strikes. It’s the best.
Gordon and Ilona Andrews
Don’t read this book!
I, on the other hand, am perfectly willing to tell you that despite being half of the author, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and you should definitely read Magic Bites, and you should read it before reading Magic Strikes (which is the third book in the seven book series.)
Magic Bites is their first published novel and shows some of the uncertainty of a first book, but were it shines is in world building. This book is an introduction to the characters and to the world. The characters are fun and idiosyncratic and the world is magnificent.
It’s urban fantasy, set in Atlanta, Georgia, with magic, but the book explains how and why the magic is there, from an educated layperson’s perspective.
The werewolves aren’t just werewolves, they have an extremely contagious magic-based virus that has both physical and mental symptoms. They have a culture and a reason for that culture.
Vampires, on the other hand, are dead. They are dead and they are bloodthirsty and they will kill you unless piloted by a “Master of the Dead.” The Masters of the Dead have a massive corporate/cult structure of their own.
And our main character, spunky female protagonist that she is, has motivation and history and reason for all of her character strengths and weaknesses.
This book introduces the reader to a world that has vampires and werewolves and a spunky female protagonist and also, unlike pretty much all other others, makes sense.
(In fact, it makes enough sense that I can quibble about little mistakes in the logical structure of the world because there’s enough logic there for there to be mistakes! If you’re at all interested, I would absolutely love to nitpick in the comments section, because this is a book, and the beginning of a series, well worth reading and thinking about and nitpicking.)
I love these books–love them! And I am so excited about the short story, which I didn’t know about and am super glad you mentioned.
What nitpicks do you have? I am sure I share them, although right now the only thing that comes to mind is that I am unsure how Kate was supposed to be friends with Jim for a long time, but knew so little about the shapeshifters. In fact, in general I find the people in this universe way better at keeping secrets than seems reasonable.
These really are fabulous books. You may also not be aware that there are some snippets posted that have some of the major scenes told from Curran’s point of view. They’re not stories in their own right, but they’re still a lot of fun. And one of them includes the missing scene, showing Curran dealing with Mahon after he (Curran) wakes up from his coma and deals with the rest of the Council.
Anyway, regarding nitpicks:
I don’t actually have a problem with Kate not knowing everything about the shapeshifters since she and Jim weren’t exactly the type of buddies to talk about their home lives. On the other hand, the range of what she does know versus what she doesn’t sometimes strikes me as a bit peculiar. How can she know enough to put her arm in the fire when she first goes to Pack headquarters, but not know that food is part of the courtship process?
Some of my nitpicks could have been dealt with by a good copy editor, and aren’t actually problematic to the plot or characterizations. For example, in that scene in Magic Bites where she goes to the Pack headquarters, she decides to wear a leather jacket instead of her old sweatshirt, but once she’s there, she pushes up the sleeve to her sweatshirt. And in Magic Strikes, the metal compound poured on Derek’s face is reportedly made up of 45% one thing, 55% something else, and 5% other, and the 105% is annoying to me each time I reread it.
More problematic to the actual characterizations, is the way shapeshifters react to deaths. We are told, in Magic Strikes that Curran is given a report immediately regarding every single death of one of his people and is very protective of them all. But in Magic Bleeds, he is perfectly okay with the fact that Kate killed 20+ while he was in his coma, and is just upset that they tried to kill Kate. I can’t remember how many died in Magic Burns. So I’m not really clear on how Curran relates to dead shapeshifters. Are they just a problem when he doesn’t know about it? Does anyone care about these people as individuals? In Magic Slays, there’s one werewolf who’s upset with Kate because Kate killed her sister, but it was a necessary death and and everyone is saying that the sister should just get over it, and no one is at all upset about the other shapeshifters Kate killed who have remained nameless and friendless.
Hmm. The dead shapeshifters never really bothered me, I guess because I viewed Curran like a a military officer–he worries about his troops and wants to know when they’re hurt, but he may not know them all personally and has to worry more about the numbers than the individuals.
And I think I knew about those other writings, but hadn’t gotten them yet–I’ll have to go do that now!
I love this series so much, because of all the strong characters, but I agree that sometimes all the killing gets to me. Each book seems to increase the violence, and I felt like book 3 reached the limits of my comfort zone, so both books 4 and 5 have gone a bit past it. I’ve started to think that Kate, Curran and all the rest should maybe look into some alternative approaches, instead of automatically beating people up; take some mediation classes or something. (This doesn’t mean that I won’t be eagerly awaiting books 6 and 7, of course.)
Also, are you reading the Edge novels? I just finished Fate’s Edge. I think they’re fun, but they’re pretty much traditional romance novels that happen to involve magic.
I’ve read the first two, but have not yet read Fate’s Edge. I agree with you, they’re fun, but not as interesting. I like that Curran and Kate both have a massive number of *issues* related to their pasts and responsibilities, etc. The Edge characters seem more bland and unaffected by their lives, Declan in particular.
I haven’t read Fate’s Edge, either, but am planning on getting it this week, courtesy of a Christmas Barnes & Nobles gift card. However, I would agree that they are a little bit more straight-forward romance novels than I’m comfortable with. I did way prefer Bayou Moon, though, because I felt like the crazy, backwoods family gave some welcome distraction.
I can only barely remember Bayou Moon, but I do recall thinking that the guy was more well rounded than the guy in the first book. I may need to re-read them just for confirmation.