No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…
As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.
As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…
You can read an excerpt here.
Sometimes it’s hard to get over your own preconceived notions of a book – particularly when that book happens to be number seven in a long running and much beloved series, such as Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels. So I knew, going in, that this was the book where the much anticipated, six-books-in-the-making confrontation between Kate and Roland, her rather evil, god-like father, was going to go down. This was it – the face-off, the MAIN EVENT.
And to be honest, what I kind of had pictured in my head was, well, hordes. Ravening armies. A mass of vampire and shapeshifter fighters sprinting at each other, Troy or 300 style – dust flying, earth shaking, etc. But, as it turned out, that was just not this book at all – in fact, I’d say technically the battle in Magic Burns was bigger than anything that went down in this one – and honestly, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down, somehow, by that lack. Even though I know I did it entirely to myself; even though I respect the hell out of this book for subverting my expectations – and even though I really, really ended up loving how this story shook up the status quo and set a fun new playing field for the books yet to come – I still had to sadly watch as my imagined hordes slumped, sighed, and trudged away.
So, what is this book, then, you wonder? Just what kind of Big Battle is this? Well, it actually felt something like the bloodthirsty royal politics of medieval Europe – with Kate getting maneuvered, subverted, and otherwise played, until at last she has no choice but to come face to face with her father, only not exactly in the way we’ve come to expect. Part crazy courtly machinations, part bizarre coming-out party, there was definitely a fair amount of blood and swordplay involved – it just was a bit subversive in how it all came about. And as Kate finally came face to face with the monster beneath her bed, and as we looked up at that towering face of doom – I just kind of went, in some quiet corner of my mind, huh. I thought he’d be more scary. I mean, yes, he is scary, in a theoretical sense – in terms of power, intent, and general insanity, for sure, the dude is scary – it’s just in that moment, he didn’t quite loom to the extent I’d hoped he would. Instead he kind of ended up being…not a letdown, per se, but just not what I’d pictured him to be. And again, I know, I did it entirely to myself – and I do get that was the the whole point of this entire story, to shake up our expectations, to change the game on us – but it also did just feel a bit anticlimactic, to be honest. Like getting to Mordor and finding the evil eye of Sauron has gone a bit soft and teary.
But as for all the events leading up to that big moment, there was plenty of action, danger and fun to be had – but again, I have a “but”, in that I also just kind of felt the story mechanics grinding a bit beneath all that run and jump. Because look, I understand the meat and potatoes have their place in every series – Kate Daniels always has a case to solve – but to me it just felt a bit…forced, this time. Like I could see the story wheels spinning, without us really covering ground – because much as I enjoy watching Kate pull out her sword and go to work, until we finally got to where we all knew we were going, the story was just kind of treading water (sometimes literally). So much as I enjoy Hugh as an antagonist, I also felt myself kind of raising an eyebrow at his rather elaborately plotty, overly convoluted machinations, because it just kind of felt like the plot was creating unnecessary hoops for us to jump through. And the fact that Kate and Curren spent that particularly plotty part of the story apart also didn’t help my impatient state of mind. But even with all that said, I did still find this story satisfying, in its own right, as the weird magic, action, and snark we’ve all come to know and love were all very much in evidence. And I really enjoyed how every loose end this series had up in the air – Nick, Naeemah, Hibla, Ted – got answered in a thoroughly satisfying way. And really, at the end of the day, how can you not love a book that uses lines such as: “Necro in the hole!”
So did I enjoy this book? Of course I did. Am I still fully vested in this series? As if there was ever any doubt. It’s just – alright, bear with me, but I’m going to make a Twilight reference. You know how Breaking Dawn all builds to the big battle at the end – and then, well, the battle never happens? And even understanding why that was, what the story was meant to be, even understanding that’s what it was really all about, you still just kind of wistfully can’t help but wish that battle had taken place? Yep, that’s pretty much it. In a nutshell.
But you know what? I have complete confidence that battle is going to happen, someday – and I am more than willing to wait. Because this is Kate Daniels, after all – only my all-time favorite Urban Fantasy series. So draw it out all your like, Team Andrews. I’m not going anywhere.
Byrt Grade: A-
As Levar Burton likes to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…
I could spend much longer explaining how much I enjoyed Magic Breaks but that would be too spoilery and the one of the best things about this book are all the surprises in store for my favorite characters. This is a great book and yet another in a series that keeps delivering…
…And when the confrontation we’ve been building up to for six books now actually takes place…it’s actually a bit of a let-down. Roland isn’t nearly terrifying enough for the bogeyman the series has built him up as, and his and Kate’s eventual détente doesn’t really feel earned. Maybe I was expecting too much… Magic Breaks is a fun book but not a deep one.