Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.
When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea’s former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate … and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world
You can read an excerpt here.
It’s no secret that I love Ilona Andrews books the way Hugh the Abominable Snowman loves bunny rabbits (that’s from Looney Tunes, if you were wondering) and I am admittedly 100% guaranteed to enjoy reading anything this writing duo produces, but I did approach this book with a pinch of uncertainty. The Kate Daniels series is far and away my favorite Urban Fantasy series, period, full stop, bar none, and while I love Andrea, a long-standing character in the series, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about spending a book away from Kate’s narrative voice. And having read the book, my answer is this: I do enjoy Andrea, and had fun getting to know her better, but in the end she’s just not Kate.
So because I love, hug, and squish this series so much, I’m going to beat up on this book a bit – but trust me, it’s a sign of affection. Andrea is without doubt a very fun character – kick ass, broken, and gloriously snarky – and it’s very easy to see why she’s Kate’s best friend, but that, for me, was the problem. Kate and Andrea are VERY much alike, from their sense of humor to their sheer bad-assery, and for me, Andrea’s narration just felt too close to Kate’s. To be honest, I kind of felt like I was reading Kate Lite (though Lite only because Kate’s had five books to grow as a character) – and trust me, it’s not because these authors lack the ability to write in different voices, as they’ve more than proven their creative range. It’s just that, for me, Andrea was just too close to Kate, such that Kate’s specter kind of loomed over this book. I kept hearing bits of Kate in Andrea, and it just made me miss Kate, even when she was on the page in front of me.
That said, I do really, really like Andrea – I love how she finally let her hair down, so to speak, and went a little crazy, and it was VERY fun to watch her act out and butt heads with Aunt B. I loved, loved, loved watching the pack politics play out (easily my favorite part of this book), and the romance, while perhaps a tad familiar – given we’ve had five books to see how shapeshifters go about romantic interludes (with a large side of crazy) – was complicated and sweet.
But (you knew there was a but coming) I also felt like there were a few very dramatically convenient events in this book, such that I felt my eyebrows rise a time or two. The one that felt the most egregious was the way someone from Andrea’s past showed up, out of nowhere, at the perfectly inopportune time. I just kind of wanted to say, really? Right now? Of all the years, months, and days, this is when she shows up? Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the emotion of that scene, and what it ultimately meant for Andrea, but I just wish it hadn’t felt so dramatically convenient. Similarly, the fact that the Big Bad of this story just happened to fixate on Andrea kind of felt just a tad contrived – with Kate, given her HUGE magical ridiculousness, I would have easily believed it, but with Andrea, I just found myself questioning it, and tugging on the chain of logic a bit, and ultimately I was left feeling a tad dubious about the whole Big Bad’s Evil Scheme of Evil. It all made sense, but to me it just felt a little…wobbly, kind of like a loose tooth. It also didn’t help that I’m rather familiar with the particular mythology this story explores, far more than I was with the mythology explored in Andrews’ other Kate books, so all in all I was a tad less suspended from disbelief than usual. I don’t know, overall there was just something about this book that felt a little…choppy, a little forced, a little more convenient that usual.
Still, I should probably mention that all the usual areas in which the Andrews writing team excels were very much in evidence – there was the usual wildly creative magical mayhem, fun action, hilarious sarcasm, and sweet romance, which all in all made this a highly enjoyable book.
So bottom line – I had a lot of fun reading this story, but I just didn’t like it quite as much as I like the Kate books. And to be honest, I’m going to be looking forward to the upcoming Jim and Dali book far more than the next (if there is one) Andrea and Raphael novel. But as ever, there is no book I am more looking forward to reading than the next Kate Daniels book.
Byrt Grade: A- / B+
As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…
Ilona Andrews writes UF perfectly. With extraordinary and unforgettable characters, lush worlds, fascinating storylines and the perfect blend of humor and emotion, they have mastered the genre.
There’s some cheesetastic melodrama in Gunmetal Magic. But it’s the good, digestible kind of drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously. At one point, Kate Daniels herself steps in and makes a tongue-in-cheek remark at Andrea and Raphael’s shenanigans as being reminiscent of a Spanish novela.
Once again, I find that the writing team of Ilona Andrews has created a story full of of wit, sarcasm, action, friendship, love, and put it all together with amazing detail and description.