Magic Breaks, Ilona Andrews
It’s hard to believe this is the seventh novel of the series. Somehow it still manages to feel fresh, and I’m not ready for this arc to come to an end. Yet that’s exactly what this book does, featuring Kate bigger and more badass than ever, with Curran at her side and ready to fight with her, against something she’s been preparing for her whole life.
Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t quite go as expected.
As usual, I found the Pack politics somewhat frustrating. One minute they’re all loyalty, and the next they won’t follow Curran and Kate, even though they’ve proved themselves, even though they’d give their lives for the Pack. I did enjoy the by-play between Desandra and Jennifer, though, and how that whole storyline wove throughout the book and joined the main storyline in places. Desandra’s a fun character, even if her humour isn’t always my thing, and she’s come a long way from our first glimpse of her.
The only place this falls down for me is that, well, I just don’t believe Curran’s going to bow out gracefully. It’s convenient for Kate to doubt him or think he’s dead or whatever, but I never do. And with Kate as the narrator, I never believe that she’s really in danger either.
I really want so many more of these books stretching out ahead of me, though. Something about them just hits the spot perfectly.
Magic Rises, Ilona Andrews
Magic Rises really ups the stakes. It opens with a serious dilemma for the Pack being made really crystal clear to Kate: the likelihood of the Pack’s children to ‘go loup’, at which point the pack have to kill them. To make sure we really notice, one of the children affected is a friend of Kate’s adopted daughter, and then the Pack receive an offer: go and mediate issues with a woman who is pregnant by two different men, whose father uses her as a way to control and divide territory. In return, you’ll get a load of the stuff you need to drastically reduce the odds of loupism.
It’s a trap, of course, and the trap is really well baited. The only question is really who it’s set for, and of course, it turns out that this advances the overarching plot as well: Kate’s heritage comes more and more to the fore, and her relationship with Curran has to weather that. At the same time, there’s a price paid within the story for every advance they gain, and lots of impossible choices to make.
My main frustration is that Kate and Curran start being idiots again. Communication, people. It’s not a myth. Use your mouths and talk to each other. Argh! Even if they don’t agree on tactics and so on, I wish their personal relationship felt less shaky and superficial at moments like this. I believe that Kate needs Curran, loves him. Now make the two of ’em act like it!
Also, the whole Andrea-and-Raphael issue is just all of a sudden solved. I’m guessing this is the point where it’d have helped to read Gunmetal Magic.
It’s a really fun read, though: it just races along at breakneck pace, and you never know exactly what’s going to happen next. The writing team that is Ilona Andrews don’t pull their punches.
Magic Slays, Ilona Andrews
Argh, this book brings the feels. Characters we love get endangered and characters we love are worried about them, serious issues in the Pack’s way of life start to become apparent, and Kate finds out that some things she took for granted weren’t true at all. We also get to see a bit more of Kate’s past and more about her mother, which we have been lacking, in the form of the witches. There’s also more about Kate’s father, about her bloodline and what it means, and what it means she can do. Plus, more honesty with Curran about those things!
Kate and Curran continue to negotiate their relationship and their respective stubbornness. They’re not perfect at it, but they do it, and they do also manage to express themselves. I’m not 100% a fan of how focused on Curran Kate can be at times (the whole having missed him while at work thing, for example), but it makes sense.
I’m not sure how much this advances the overall plot; it feels like a bit of an interlude, after the events with Erra, except that character-wise it is fairly momentous, and Kate does inch slowly towards an understanding of the cost she might have to pay, but also why she shouldn’t run away.
I find these books solid fun and really easy to read; there’s no way I’m stopping here.
Clean Sweep, Ilona Andrews
Okay, the concept reminds me of Tanya Huff’s Summon the Keeper, which I haven’t read yet but which is held in high esteem by some of my friends. But Ilona Andrews’ writing is just darn fun. Dina is funny and takes no crap, the whole concept of the inns and the responsibilities of the inn keepers is good, and while Sean Evans is kind of an ass, he’s the kind of ass that can grow on you — like Curran, from the Kate Daniels books. I actually read this in one sitting, despite rather wanting to go to bed before I started, and when done, I handed it straight to my sister.
And come on, if nothing else grabs you, the unique “vampires” from actual outer space are a really cool concept. Between this and the magic/technology mixture in the Kate Daniels books, you’d better believe that the Andrews team can come up with some great settings and interesting worlds.
Guess I’m going to have to get my hands on Sweep in Peace, though I sort of hope that neither potential love interest turns out to be the one. Shoo, Sean. Go pee on someone else’s trees.
Hello, everyone! Thanks for the good wishes last week — my grandmother’s operation went okay, and she seems quite well, all things considered. Hope you’ve all had good weeks too!
Suddenly, I’m mad about Phryne Fisher. Even considering watching the series, if it’s on the UK Netflix! I’ve read a bunch of these already.
Yes. Uh. As I said.
I’ve been looking forward to this one since I first heard about it!
What’s everyone else been getting?
Magic Bleeds, Ilona Andrews
Oh thank goodness. I sort of knew it, because I read the extras with Curran’s POV, but Magic Bleeds is the point where Curran and Kate start communicating properly and fully, and they eventually stop running away from the issues between them. The scenes with them are great; there is indeed a sex scene or two, but you can skip it if that’s not what you’re reading the books for — there’s still an epic amount of fight scenes and showdowns. And witty one-liners and snarky banter.
I’ve never been too inclined to take this series too seriously, so it’s amazing that it does actually pull me in and make me need to know what happens. And at least, unlike the Mercy Thompson books, it’s not like everyone is in love with Kate. And the dynamics of Curran’s pack make more sense than Adam’s pack; while some oppose Kate, she also has allies, and there’s a more robust sense of politics within the Pack. I initially thought of it as lighter than the Mercy Thompson books, less serious, and while it is, and the steaminess is definitely higher, it seems to deal with things better. Like, people around Kate actually manage to respect what she’s capable of, for instance. As a consequence, I’m more invested in this whole group of characters.
Things this book did need more of: Derek. And possibly less of Saiman, because though I kind of want to know what’s up with him and why he’s been in all the books so far, he’s a creepy asshole.
Anyway, we’re getting more and more of Kate’s background, and it’s intriguing. It’s building to an epic climax, and I’m definitely invested in it enough that I might have to beg or borrow the next book right away.
And hopefully we get lots more of Grendel, because that dog is hilarious, and I love her justification for his final name.
Magic Strikes, Ilona Andrews
I only meant to pick up the second Patricia Briggs book when I was at the library, but then I spotted this and Magic Bleeds, and I couldn’t resist it. It’s exactly what I’m in the mood for right now: snarky, full of action and a will-they-won’t-they romance. Curran and Kate are rather more powerful in that regard than either of Mercy’s paramours; I think I’ll read Magic Bleeds next, since I’m obviously in the mood for this world.
Again, it’s not deathless prose, the most subtle thing ever, etc, etc. However, I do like the worldbuilding, the slow reveal of Kate’s heritage, the various tangles of loyalties and friendships between the characters, and yeah, the snappy dialogue. If this one doesn’t make you laugh, then you must be in a state. (Or it isn’t your thing, and that’s fine. For me, though, it’s funny because it’s a give and take. No one gets humiliated, no one backs down.)
The action was particularly good in this one, with the arena fights. The mythological stuff in the background is interesting, too, and characters I didn’t expect to be developed were given a bit more time, a bit more colour.
It’s my birthday! Or, actually, it’s now two days after my birthday. I got some new bookish shirts (“high shelf esteem” being one of them; “I like to party and by party I mean read books” being another! They’re from LookHuman.com like the shirts I reviewed here) and a few new books. Hurrah.
And there was a library trip, of course.
I’m a little worried I’m going to blend the plots of the Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels books if I read them at the same time… still, the library in Cardiff doesn’t have them, and the library at my parents’ does, so!
I was supposed to get Hawkeye for Christmas. Seriously! And now I finally have it and… I haven’t read volume three and my copy of volume three is not here. Gaaah.
What’s everyone else been grabbing?
This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is top ten new-to-me authors I read in 2014. Hmmm…
- Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette). If you haven’t noticed how I loved The Goblin Emperor, well, wow.
- Brandon Sanderson. Yep, I know, I’m way behind. But I think The Rithmatist was the first thing I’ve read by him.
- Rainbow Rowell. She can certainly write an absorbing story!
- Francis Pryor. Yes, an odd one out so far, but man, absorbing books about archaeology, how could I not love?
- Richard Fortey. Too bad I managed to read most of his books just in this one year.
- David Quammen. Purely on the basis of Spillover, without even having to think! I’m not sure about getting his book on ebola; I don’t know how much it overlaps.
- Steven Brust. Okay, technically I read a collab of his with Robin Hobb long, long ago, but this year saw my introduction to his solo work.
- Ilona Andrews. Really didn’t expect to like the Kate Daniels books so much, but I do.
- Ngaio Marsh. I need to get back to gorging on these, I think. At least there’s a lot!
- Kameron Hurley. I still haven’t read her non-fiction, but I loved her non-fiction collection.
What about you? Anything you think I’m missing from my life?
What have you recently finished reading?
On My Way to Jorvik, by John Sunderland, which is an autobiography by one of the people involved in creating the Jorvik museum, talking about how he got there considering he actually had no experience with museums at all. It’s okay, but it gets more interesting once he actually gets onto Jorvik — I was less interested in his personal life. And there was also Radio Free Albemuth, which I’ve already posted my review of.
What are you currently reading?
We Are Here, by Michael Marshall Smith. Which I got spoilered for a bit, but spoilers don’t tend to bother me, and I was already figuring it out anyway. I love the way this guy writes, and have really enjoyed everything of his I’ve read, but this one is kinda slow — well written, but slow. It’s driving me a little batty because I really want to love it, and there’s so much to like, but… not enough happening. Or not enough happening that makes sense, anyway.
I’m also still reading Manon Lescaut, and next week in Fiction of Relationships is (I think) Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, which I love and adore. So I’m partway through a reread of that.
What will you read next?
For once, I’m pretty sure — my books from the library ’round here, since soon I’m going back to where I normally live. So Timescape (Gregory Benford), Book of Skulls (Robert Silverberg) and, if there’s time, Magic Strikes (Ilona Andrews). If not, I know I can get that one from the local library.