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I am in love with Kate and Curran and generally the whole Kate Daniels world that Illona Andrews (wife and husband writing team) have created.
Magic Burns is the second instalment in the Kate Daniels urban fantasy series and I'm still just as hooked now as I was when I finished the first book Magic Bites. If anything Magic Burns is just that bit better than the first book, as the characters are more developed and the story was much less predictable.
--- Book synopsis ---
As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate's going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.
When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta's paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, Celtic god Morfran supersedes goddess Morrigan for witch coven worshippers of the Crow, and sea monsters from the Underworld enter via the Cauldron of Plenty. Kate starts looking for Pack maps and 13-year old Julia's witch mother, and ends up uniting shapeshifters and vampire zombie controllers to save the world.
--- Review ---
"He put the book down. "As you wish." He rose and walked past me. I lowered my sword, expecting him to pass, but suddenly he stepped in dangerously close. "Welcome home. I'm glad you made it. There is coffee in the kitchen for you."
My mouth gaped open.
He inhaled my scent, bent close, about to kiss me...
I just stood there like an idiot.
Curran smirked and whispered in my ear instead. "Psych."
And just like that, he was out the door and gone.
If I am honest I liked Kate a lot in the first book but in Magic Burns she's really started to flesh out and become one of my favourite urban fantasy characters of the moment. She's a sword wielding, magic controlling, bad ass with a heart of gold and with a whole range of witty comebacks that will keep you entertained. And probably one of the highest praises I can give Illona Andrews is that in a very saturated urban fantasy market Kate Daniels stands out, she's memorable and makes me want to read the next book in the series.
In the first book a lot of Kate's abilities and magic where kept quite mysterious and only really hinted at, but in Magic Burns we finally get an idea of what Kate is and where she came from. In fact all the characters and the world building is much stronger in the second book while the writing and pace remain at the same fast speed making Magic Burns a book I tore through in a couple of days. When I started reading I couldn't stop.
As well as Kate, I loved that Magic Burns as with Magic Bites certainly does have some very bizarre and weird moments, for example meetings inside a giant tortoise for one - who thinks of that? But it works and it makes the world of Kate Daniels stand out. There are also some new characters as well as some familiar and fun faces that make a return. Derek the teenage werewolf side-kick makes a much stronger appearance in Magic Burns and I loved the introduction of Julie the orphaned child that will forever change Kate's life.
However, that kind of brings me onto one of my main (but not really large) complaints with the series so far - the world building is still a bit confusing and although I got to grips with Kate's version of Atlanta in Magic Burns there were still times I felt a little disorientated. The world seems to not only be one where magic and technology alternate, when magic is up technology is down and vice versa but it is also quite a post apocalyptic world with large segments of the city of Atlanta are left in ruin, destroyed or forever altered by the magic waves. However, please don't let that put you off trying the series because although it took me a while to get my head around the world building it is one of the best constructed and most original world building that I've read in a while.
The reason I love instead of just like this series has to be the relationship between Kate and Curran. Curran is the Beast Lord of the Atlanta Pack of shape shifters and he is one seriously masculine male lead that just makes my knees quiver. There is no doubt that Kate and Curran have one of those tension filled, chemistry fuelled relationships that you can't stop reading, but unlike the majority of adult Urban fantasy their relationship is developing throughout the books rather than them instantly jumping in bed with one another. I enjoy the series as a whole, but I do keep going back to these books to read about Kate and Curran.
In fact I dare anyone to read this series and not start developing a bit of a fiction crush on Curran...
Magic Burns is by far not a perfect read but it is sheer entertainment and I happily spent most of a weekend absorbed in Illona Andrews writing and I look forward to doing so again. Bring on book three - Magic Strikes!
Magic Burns by Illona Andrews definitely gets the full five out of five stars from me and comes highly recommended if you are looking for something a bit different in the urban fantasy genre.
Genre - Adult, urban fantasy
E-book - 288 pages (October 2010 - Gollancz)
As a dyed-in-the-wool fan of urban fantasy, I'm always delighted to come across a new author and my experience of reading the first book in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews had me hooked from page one. Not surprisingly, I then looked for the exciting next instalment in Kate's eventful life.
The best way to describe urban fantasy, which is a relatively new sub-genre, is that it marries together elements of traditional fantasy, horror and the thriller genres played out in a setting which is invariably contemporary. In many ways they are similar to alternative reality novels but the edges are slightly blurred by the inclusion of creatures of myth and fantasy.
Ilona Andrews is, in fact, a husband and wife team of writers who have produced a unique and original heroine in Kate and their books are peopled by strange and charismatic characters who, despite the outlandishness of the plots, seem all too real. The reason they score so highly with the realism of their characters is, I'm convinced, down to the dual perspective of their writing. I think it's fair to say that women tend to create better female characters than men and vice versa, so with a male and female writing partnership we have a win-win situation. This works especially well with the male characters who never descend into romantic mushiness as so often happens when they've been given life by a female creator. I'm not saying the male lead in this series, Curran, isn't capable of gentleness or sensitivity but just that his emotions are manifested in a realistically male way.
This book catches up with Kate some two or three months following her first adventure and she has now been offered employment in a more permanent capacity by the Order, a group of gifted magicians who try to keep a balance between the worlds of magic and technology. Often, "when the magic is up", technology fails to work and a portal is opened which allows creatures from another dimension to enter and wreak their havoc.
Kate's world is a post-apocalyptic land, divided into three distinct groups: her own Order, who are human, rather like Knights of the Round Table but with the ability to deal with the magic; the Pack comprised of shape shifters of all animal persuasions, controlled by the Beast Lord, Curran, who has taken something of a shine to Kate and it's sort of reciprocated, and, finally, the People. The People are necromancers who manipulate the undead such as zombies and vampires. In these books, however, vampires are much more things of nightmare than the suave and sexy vamps of paranormal romance. These vampires are leathery and dessicated creatures who scuttle about in the darkness.
This time Kate has been called upon to help find some maps which have been stolen from under the noses of the Pack. The magic ebbs and flows across the landscape but every seven years it flares up, allowing the magic to run rampant, and this is just such a time. Kate finds she's involved in something much bigger than mere theft; she's bang slap in the middle of a monumental tug of war between two gods, both working towards their rebirth and total domination and if either of them wins, Kate's world will be history.
The first book in the series, Magic Bites, introduced Kate along with the principle characters who appear in all of the series and in Magic Burns, we get to meet a few more characters who I suspect will have recurring appearances throughout the series. One of these new characters is Julie, a young girl whose mother has gone missing. Julie's mother belongs to a weird, fringe coven and their incantations have been responsible for some pretty drastic events taking place. Kate recognises a power in Julie which is, as yet, untapped and the girl's vulnerability appeals to Kate's protective instincts and she determines to make sure the girl isn't exploited by the unscrupulous.
Kate is a first rate fantasy heroine: she's feisty and independent but, just like young Julie, she also has a vulnerability of her own. There is a secret in Kate's past, something to do with her parentage and inherited powers that is yet to be revealed to the reader. Her feelings for Curran, too, ring true. She hasn't fallen straight into bed with him as so often happens in paranormal romances (a sub-genre which frequently carries the misnomer of urban fantasy) but there is a definite spark between them which is developed slightly in this book but can in no way be described as a romance, although I suspect over the course of the next few books, this may develop further.
Curran, too, is an intriguing character. He's been the Beast Lord (I know, it's a cheesy title!) since he was a teenager and as such, he presents an all-powerful persona and sometimes act in ways that go against his true nature. As a shape shifter, his alternative form is that of a huge lion and he demonstrates many of the characteristics of that creature even when in human form.
The secondary characters, too, even those who only appear fleetingly, are all well rounded and believable and add to the authenticity of the story. In this second outing, rather than remaining static, the characters of Kate and Curran, along with their friends and colleagues, have all been further developed which, again, adds a depth of realism to the story.
I won't pretend that this book is great literature. Occasionally I will still read a literary novel but more often than not these days, I read fiction to be entertained and this book certainly does that. It's an action packed tale, filled with colourful and well-rounded characters. It can be read as a stand alone novel without too much difficulty as the basics of the back story are retold here but I suspect that anyone reading and enjoying this book will want to go back and read the previous instalment as well as the following two books.
The series so far comprises:
1. Magic Bites
2. Magic Burns
3. Magic Strikes
4. Magic Bleeds
5. Magic Slays (due out May 2011)
I borrowed my copy from the library but this second in the series can be bought new for £4.49 from Amazon and possibly cheaper elsewhere.
Also posted on Ciao under the same user name.