Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review: Magic Strikes

Title: Magic Strikes
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels/Book 3
Published: April 2009

*Spoilers if you haven't read the first two books*

Kate Daniels, former mercenary, is now working for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid. It's been two months since she lost a good friend and gained a daughter. Since then she's been working for the Order and trying to keep her distance from the pack, specifically Curran, the Beast Lord of Atlanta. But all roads eventually lead home or in Kate's case they lead to Curran.

The Kate Daniels series is one that I almost missed. I had heard good things about the first book, Magic Bites, but was hesitant to start a new series. Thankfully, I spotted Magic Bites at the library and gave it a go. I was hooked! While Magic Bites was good, Magic Burns was even better and Magic Strikes blew me away! This is not a series you want to start anywhere but at the beginning. Andrews does a good job of filling in back story but the characters have gone through so much growth and change, especially Kate, that you really don't want to miss out on that.

Kate must help out her friend Derek, a werewolf and a member of Curran's pack. While trying to help Derek she must also make a deal to assist Saiman, a shape shifter with the ability to shift into just about anything he wants. He also has a thing for Kate, one that she has absolutely no intention of reciprocating. Saiman convinces Kate to accompany him to the Midnight Games where she finds out just how brutal the world of underground fighting is. She also finds out that her old partner Jim is somehow involved in the same mess Derek was in. After Derek is severely beaten and left for dead Kate and Jim devise a plan to find the ones who beat Derek. They get way more than they planned and end up fighting in the Midnight Games tournament.

The creatures that Kate and her teammates have to fight in the tournament are a variety of scary and bizarre. The Reapers are their main opponents and they are after the Wolf Diamond, the prize in the tournament. The Reapers have no intention of losing and are determined to defeat Kate and Curran's team at any cost.

The Masters of the Dead and the vampires they control were not featured prominently in Magic Strikes but they are some of the scariest vampires I have ever read. They totally creep me out.

A lean shadow skittered from the alley, followed by another. Emaciated, hairless, loping on all fours in a jerky, uncoordinated gait, they crossed the street before me and paused. They had been human at some point but both had been dead for more than a decade. No fat or softness remained on their bodies. No flesh-only steel-wire muscle beneath thick hide. Two vampires on the prowl. And they were out of their territory. page 7

The fight scenes leave you breathless and make you feel like you are there, in the Pit with Kate and crew. While reading those scene I was on the edge, worried about these characters that I have come to know and love. I was worried for their safety and wondered if they would all make it out of the Pit alive or if one of them would fall. I really wasn't sure that one of them wouldn't end up dead. That's what Andrews does, makes the reader feel for these characters until they become more than just characters in a book. They become as close to real as they can possibly be. When Kate is in the Pit you can literally feeling the magic swirling around as she describes what she is experiencing ~ the ebb and flow of the powers. Feel the sand, smell the blood, the fear. The need to kick ass and kill something. The reader experiences it all through Kate.

Of course I have to mention my favorite shape shifter Curran. He can be a man of few words but when he does speak everyone listens. He's had his eye on Kate for some time but she's trying her best to stay out of his path. The romance continues to develop between them but is muted at first. The sexual tension and Curran's pursuit of Kate is on going with Kate determined to deny of her feelings for Curran, to a point. Curran is persistent and slowly works at breaking down Kate's resistance.

Kate, royally pissed off at Curran~

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" I looked for something heavy to hit him with, but the room was mostly empty. There were surgical instruments but no heavy, blunt objects capable of causing the kind of pain I wanted.

He straightened.

"He was silver!" I snarled in his face. "I had it under control. What was going through your head? Here's a toxic silver golem; I think I'll jump on his back! That's a damn good idea!"

He scooped me up and suddenly I was pressed against his chest. "Were you worried about me?"

"No, I'm ranting for fun, because I'm a disagreeable bitch!"

He smiled.

"You're a moron!" I told him.

He just looked at me. Happy golden lights danced in his eyes. I'd learned exactly what those sparks meant. Fury fled, replaced by alarm.

"Kiss me and I'll kill you," I warned.

"It might be worth it," he said softly. page 276

There is a secondary romance in the works with Andrea and Raphael. Andrea is also a member of the Order and Raphael is a werehyena that is mad for Andrea. She, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with him. Raphael is stubborn and is intent on winning Andrea. Their encounters were humorous and it didn't hurt that Raphael is completely adorable in his quest to win Andrea.

Magic Strikes is funny, emotional, mesmerizing to the point that I didn't want to put it down. The brilliance of the writing kept me on edge and at times left me there, teetering on the brink. Just when I thought I knew where the authors were going I ended up like Kate, wanting someone to pinch me.

I blinked a couple of times and held my arm out to Jim. "Pinch me."

Claws sliced my flesh. Ow.

I stared at a couple of red dots on my forearm, licked them, tasting the sharp bite of magic on my tongue. Yep. Real. I did just see a golden palace fly off. page 162

The world building is once again an indulgence for the readers' senses with the descriptions of Atlanta, it's citizens and structures all playing a part in the story. I could go on about the amazing world that Kate and her friends inhabit but I'll stop here. Just know that when you read Ilona Andrews be prepared for an incredible journey filled with a kick ass heroine, action scenes that leave you breathless and sexual tension that torments and teases, leaving you wanting more.

I can not recommend this series enough. All kinds of good stuff can be found at the author's website. Ilona Andrews (who is actually a husband and wife writing team) also has a new series coming out this fall starting with On the Edge. I blogged about the cover here and you can read an excerpt here.

Go out and get Magic Bites, Magic Burns and Magic Strikes. You won't be sorry.

Rating: A+


  1. All right, I'll bite :) I have the first book at home and I'll try to unearth it. In the meantime, tell me... how's the romance in this series?

  2. It's UF so the romance starts out very minimal but it has been building. It's still more in the background so don't read it for the romance. But what there is of it is very good.

  3. Oooohh yeah. Could not agree more with your review! The romance is just right. I like UF foremost for the imaginative settings and characters. A little bit of romance is bonus, but I do love it when it's there. It should always enhance the characters experiencing it and fit with what's going on with them currently in the books. It works exceedingly well in this series.

  4. This is such an imaginative world! And I love that Saiman. I've read book 1, but this reminds me I have to get on book 2 & 3. Thanks for the review!

  5. Can. Not. Wait. Curran is so awesome, and the chemistry between him and Kate is so much fun to read.

    The sense of humor in these books just cracks me up, too.

    I'm so excited to read this installment, and I'm really glad you liked it so much! I'll be getting it this week. :-)

  6. KMont ~ Exactly. The romance enhances the characters.

    CJ ~ Saiman is great in Magic Strikes. We get to see another side of him. :)

    Renee ~ I'm in love with Curran. There - I said it. lol