RogerBW's Blog

Magic Slays, Ilona Andrews 08 June 2019

2011 modern fantasy, fifth in the Kate Daniels series. Kate's set up as a freelance magical investigator, though she has no clients yet; when she gets a warning about a loose vampire, she'd have taken the job even without the public-safety angle. But that's just the first sign of a new threat.

And this time it isn't a monster. Well, not exactly. It's an organisation which one could fairly call "terrorist", run by people who are using sensible means in pursuance of their unpleasant goals. (Not that those goals are quite what they claim they are, because, well, humans.)

"I liked you better as a merc."

"I did, too." I could kick people and say what I actually thought without causing a diplomatic disaster. "But we all have to grow up sometime."

Having been dropped into a position of power as the mate of the leader of all the shapeshifters in Atlanta, Kate's negotiating Pack politics (and, like everyone else, chafing at the rules while accepting their necessity), and trying to get the business going, and trying to prepare for a big confrontation that she knows is coming. But of course all that has to be dropped when there's another threat to post-technological Atlanta.

So the basic action and fighting is pretty decent, as it always has been, but if I just wanted action and fighting I'd play a video game. Like it or not, Kate is now embedded in a web of friendships (yeah, female urban fantasy protagonist who actually has some female friends rather than being only about the romance); and she and Curran are working out the terms of their relationship, not just in the usual way but with the specific considerations of their personalities and situations. Both of them are accustomed to throwing themselves into danger for other people; Curran has had to be the point of ultimate appeal from within the Pack for far too long, while Kate, particularly when she learns something more about her family background, has to consider what Curran may have thought about the political implications of their getting together. These are awkward people who are making their romance work by working things out, rather than just smouldering at each other.

"He's just jerking your chain. If you want, I'll get Barabas to draw up a letter with his lawyer credentials on it. We'll send it to the Order and you'll get your weapons back. Shane can't hold your property."

"I know that. I'm still pissed off. It's your duty as my best friend to be outraged with me."

"I'm outraged!" I snarled. "That bastard!"

"Thank you," Andrea said.

That relationship, as well as Kate's with her adopted daughter Julie, makes up the real spine of the book, not the fights or the detection, enjoyable as those are. A hazard to Julie gets as much narrative time as the threat to the city, and that feels right.

And it doesn't hurt that Andrews often gets just the right phrase:

The elevator vomited us up into a hallway lined with criminally luxurious carpet.

Followed by Magic Rises, but there are a bunch of side stories before we get there.

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Previous in series: Magic Dreams | Series: Kate Daniels | Next in series: Magic Tests

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