Sunday 6 September 2015

#CBR7 Book 81: "Magic Shifts" by Ilona Andrews

Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Spoiler warning! This is book 8 in the series, and some really big stuff happened in the last book. Seriously, if you haven't read Magic Breaks yet, there will be spoilers, so return once you're caught up. If you haven't read any Ilona Andrews books yet, you should do your very best to change that as soon as possible. They write among the best paranormal books out there, you won't be sorry.

After a period of adjustment after the confrontation in the previous book, mercenary and magical powerhouse Kate Daniels is trying to settle down and make an honest living, aided by her fiancee, former Beast Lord of Atlanta, Curran Lennart. Being hired for supernatural jobs can be a bit tricky when your partner's a giant werelion, though, and their money situation is starting to get tight. While neither of them miss the constant need for diplomacy and the complex infighting of running the Pack, it's clear that being a simple mercenary is also not challenging enough for a man who ruled over a thousand shapeshifters for more than a decade.

When Jim, the new Beast Lord offers Kate and Curran a controlling share in the Mercenary Guild, both of them initially refuse. The many chaotic events in Atlanta over the last few years have wreaked havoc with the formerly quite orderly Guild, making it a bad financial bet. Then they are approached by George, the closest thing Curran has to a sister, asking them to locate her fiancee, the were-buffalo Eduardo. All the trails lead to the Guild, suggesting that Eduardo disappeared while out on a mission. While re-tracing his last known missions, it's clear that something big and dangerous is rising in Atlanta, a city now under Kate's protection, and they need to hurry if they're going to find Eduardo alive.

Because the Andrews' were only initially contracted for seven books in the Kate Daniels series, so much of the overarching plot in the series built up towards the events of the last book, Magic Breaks. This book takes place in the aftermath, where there's been a lot of changes for our protagonists, but life still goes on, and Atlanta is still a dangerous place to be. Possibly more so after Kate finally revealed just how powerful she is, in accidentally claiming the city as her territory in order to prevent her father, the ancient Roland, from doing the same.

This is a low-key book compared to the previous one, with an almost mundane search and rescue mission at its heart. Of course, it wouldn't be a Kate book without horrible monsters to fight , interesting mythological adversaries and Kate throwing herself head-long into danger, without any care for her own safety or mortality. That's not to say that there isn't gradual setting up for the final confrontation that Kate will one day have with her father, but for now, there is dinner at Appleby's, new neighbours to placate and bills that need paying. The Andrews' excel both at world-building and at populating their books with an awesome supporting cast. There's amazing dialogue, several laugh-out-loud moments, clever plotting and nail-biting action.

If you've enjoyed the previous Kate books, you'll like this one too. The stakes are lower, the pace is somewhat quieter, there's more actual detective work, like in some of the earlier books. This book ends with a wedding, and the next book promises to have another one, which I'm not going to pretend I'm not ridiculously excited about. Just such a shame I'm going to have to wait a whole year.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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