RogerBW's Blog

Magic Strikes, Ilona Andrews 24 March 2019

2009 modern fantasy, third in the Kate Daniels series. When a shapeshifter gets killed and she's frozen out of the investigation, Kate's annoyed, but they're within their rights. When another shifter, a friend of hers, is deliberately crippled, that's another matter.

There's some slight element of mystery here, but it's of the form "what are these people up to" rather than "who are the bad guys"; that's always obvious. The tension of the series so far is less in identifying the villains and more in working out ways to deal with them, while at the same time not smashing the precarious balance of magical power in post-manaclypse Atlanta.

We'd talked our plan over on the way through the city. It wasn't a great plan, but it was a slight improvement over my usual "go and annoy everyone involved until somebody tries to kill you."

Most of the plot, though, revolves round the Midnight Tournament, a series of illicit but nodded-at fights to the death between supernatural creatures. I admit to a slight groan at this well-used trope: yes, of course, Kate is going to have to fight, and it's going to reveal her true power to more people (and thus make her more of a target). (And given how lethal the game is - all the matches we see involve all the members of one side being killed - I can't see how any team can build up form other than "we win every match", which doesn't fit well with the serious gambling that we're told takes place.) However, Andrews doesn't rely on cool supernatural battles to maintain interest, though the action sequences are effective; as always it's about the people first.

Which makes the slow-burn romance frustrating, but largely in a good way. Curran, chief of the shapeshifters, is still something of a smug git, though he's slowly getting better. Kate is trying not to admit that she likes the man, though she still wants not to be just another of the parade of women who've passed through his bed.

At this point the series is still being decent urban fantasy but nothing stunning. The romances (mostly Kate and Curran, but there are others too) are starting to work in a way that's unusual: these people are not the universal dreamboats of inferior romance novels, with whom the reader is expected to fall slightly in love, but just may be right for each other.

Followed by side story Magic Mourns, then Magic Bleeds.

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Previous in series: Magic Burns | Series: Kate Daniels | Next in series: Magic Mourns

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