Friday 28 May 2010

CBR2 Book 53: "Magic Bleeds" by Ilona Andrews

Publisher: Ace
Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Date begun: May 25th, 2010
Date finished: May 25th, 2010


Kate Daniels is an ex-mercenary, living in an alternate version of Atlanta where many of the buildings are crumbling, and technology cannot always be relied on, as fairly frequently, waves of magic sweep in and take everything over. When magic is high, technology doesn't work, so things like firearms, cars, phones and other useful things are useless. You have to have weapons like swords and daggers, and ride a horse or walk. Kate deals with supernatural problems that tend to be to tricky for other people to handle, and generally tries to avoid emotional involvement or close ties to anyone or anything. This is necessitated by her upbringing, and the knowledge that once her father finds her, he will do everything in his power to kill her and anyone she ever cared about.

In the course of the last three books, her resolve to stay hard and unattached has been broken several times. She now works with her best friend, is considered a close friend to several members of the Pack (Atlanta's huge shape-shifting community - not just werewolves here, but pretty much any flavour of shape-shifter you can imagine), has an adopted niece, and in this book she even acquires a dog. There is also Curran, her sometime nemesis, who she has amazing romantic tension with. Curran is the Beast Lord of Atlanta, the leader of the Pack, and as such has heavy responsibilities and strong protective instincts, that clash rather a lot with Kate's independence.

In Magic Bleeds, Kate's relationship to Curran is rather frosty, due to a monumental misunderstanding on both sides. There is a powerful supernatural menace in the city, infecting powerful humans or supernaturals with infectious plagues and taking over their bodies which she has to stop. This turns out to be much more difficult than expected, partially because the being causing the havoc is related to her by blood. Having spent her entire life hiding her powers and abilities, she is now closer to bringing notice to herself than ever before.

As readers of my blog have no doubt noticed, I read a lot of paranormal fantasy. A whole lot of it. Almost all of it first-person narrated by women who to a larger or lesser extent are strong-willed, independent, smart, funny, and kick ass. Of all these heroines, Kate Daniels is my favourite. Hers is not the series I've been reading the longest (that honour is probably held by Sookie Stackhouse - heroine of Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire/True Blood novels). As a matter of fact, it's only a year and a bit since I first discovered Ilona Andrews (who are actually a husband and wife team writing under her name) and Magic Bites, the first Kate Daniels novel. I have been waiting with bated breath for the fourth novel in the series, however, since I finished reading book 3, Magic Strikes, in early April 2009.

A lot more about Kate's past and parentage is revealed in this book. Once again, there are mythological beings, not just taken from well-known Western mythology. More of both Kate and Curran's personalities are revealed, and the reason why they act the way they do. This is probably the funniest Kate Daniels novel so far, and I laughed out loud several times while reading it. While books 2 and 3 were quite dark and gritty, this one had moments of pure joy and playfulness, nicely balanced with impressive action scenes or emotional exposition.

So to say that my expectations for this novel were high is an understatement. Book 3 ended on a cliffhanger. As an avid follower of Ilona and Gordon Andrews' blog, I knew that quite a lot of important things were going to happen in this novel, and according to their website, Kate would be losing a lot and dealing with some difficult things. So I was naturally anxious, because my emotional investment in this series is bordering on the unhealthy. To my great relief, the book was just as satisfying as I'd hoped. I would also say that the website lied a bit, because I think Kate gained far more than she lost, and is in a much stronger and better position to deal with any future threats. Magic Bleeds gave me a comforting sense of closure, and means that I can patiently wait for the release of Bayou Moon, the second book in the On the Edge series, and Kate 5 sometime next year.

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