This is a pretty mixed review given that it’s for a book that I enjoyed in a series that I loved.
I enjoyed this book a lot. There was fun banter and exciting action and all sorts of fun. On the other hand, it wasn’t exactly the best work of literature I’ve run across, not even the best by this author. The plot depends more on shiny-magic-handwaving than it does on logic and the characterizations are pretty dependent on introductions from previous books. There are also a few scenes that seem to have been included for no particular reason at all.
I assume those scenes are part of the set up for the next book, actually. That actually brings me to skirting around a spoiler that I wrote about in one of my spoiler posts, regarding how this book was written primarily in order to set up some circumstances in preparation for the events in the next book. This book is well-worth reading as the next building block in a really awesome series, but I don’t think it can or should stand alone. I definitely recommend the series, though, but start at the beginning and read them in chronological order. While the main series is planned to have seven books, I would say that this counts as book 5.5. While focusing on a side character, the events of this book are necessary to the development of the series in general.
The suggestion to read the books in chronological order includes, incidentally, the suggestion to read the novella, Magic Gifts, which is included at the back of this book, before reading Gunmetal Magic. Which means, that when you get the 448-page book, the first thing to do is to flip to approximately page 330 and start reading. Magic Gifts is the story of what Kate Daniels, the main character of the series, is doing in the background during Gunmetal Magic, which focuses on the adventures of Kate’s best friend Andrea.
Anyway, a couple of things about the book in particular:
On the plus side: One thing that I really appreciated about Gunmetal Magic is how deftly it managed to flirt with but then avoid the classic romance-novel cliché of the love triangle in which one girl must choose between two guys. While the structure is still there, Andrea deals with the situation in a realistic fashion without all the angst and general waffling that I had feared. I was impressed. The characters were fun, the banter was fun, and I was pleased at the romantic resolution.
On the minus side: This could be a plus or a minus, depending on your perspective, I suppose, but the book covers some heavy ground regarding extreme childhood abuse very lightly. Maybe a bit too lightly. It’s not that I want to read a realistic depiction of how extreme childhood abuse affects adult relations (which I assume would be horribly depressing,) but I kind of think that introducing the issue and then not dealing with it might be worse. On the other (third?) hand, I’m willing to handwave away some of that with a vague explanation of magic and societal changes, etc.
So I will end this review with the suggestion that you go read Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)