REVIEW by Jena: Kate Daniels 1-5 by Ilona Andrews (@ilona_andrews , @GordonSm3)
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I come to you with a heart draped in shame as I admit that prior to about 6 months ago, I had never even heard the name Ilona Andrews. Thanks to much prodding from Ginny and Dolly, I snatched up the 5 existing full-length audio books and started listening. Rather than posting 5 separate reviews, I decided to do one big review for the series thus far.
So here we go!
MAGIC BITES (KATE DANIELS #1) – When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…
My first impressions when starting this audiobook was “Oh GAWD! Another horrible narrator!”. As with the Karen Marie Moning Fever books, that quickly vanished. As I became engrossed in the story, I learned to love the narrator. She’s not as captivating as someone like Tavia Gilbert (narrator of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress Series) but the writing of husband/wife team Ilona Andrews quickly over shadows that.
As I was making my way through this first book, I pulled out a stack of Post-It notes to jot down trigger words so I wouldn’t forget what I wanted to say in my reviews. I wrote exactly 3 words: Epic Urban Fantasy. Categorizing this series as simply “urban fantasy” just isn’t fitting enough.
Magic Bites introduces us to Kate Daniels – quite possibly one of the most bad ass badasses with a vagina in literary history. She’s my new standard for what a kick ass female lead should be. Dont get me wrong! Cat (Night Huntress Series) is still my down-ass bitch but Kate pisses excellence.
Then there’s Curran…
I never thought I would encounter a character more terrifying than I found Jericho Barrons to be at the beginning of Darkfever but…man….Curran Lennart did it. He’s still a big fat bucket of mystery at the end of Magic Bites so by the end of this book, aside from being flat-out scared of him, I was all “what’s the big frikkin deal?” but that gets clarified a little later.
Ilona Andrews proves from the flip of the first page that urban fantasy needed a kick in the ass. Action packed and full of humor that had me laughing my ass off at every turn. The world that this team created is so ornately detailed that the only thing I found hard to deal with is that there is a LOT to take in. I found myself rewinding the audio book here and there because something would happen and it made no sense so I knew I had missed a piece. I’d go back and sure enough, there it was.
Magic Bites was a great start to a fantastic series. Riddled with downright intriguing characters and humor unmatched by any other series I have ever read. Epic to the point of almost too much detail.
My favorite thing about this series is even though you have this dark edgy story line, the books are RIDDLED with humorous scenes. Here’s my favorite for Magic Bites:
“What did you tell them?”
“I don’t recall. I think I mentioned your discipline and ability to follow orders. I may have said something about you being a team player.”
Derek emitted a strangled cough.
“Why?” I demanded.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Curran resumed hammering.
“I’m sorry,” I said into the phone, sticking me finger into my other ear so I could hear. “His Majesty tends to exaggerate things. I’m not a team player. I’m undisciplined and I have a problem with authority. Also, the Beast Lord can’t hammer for shit.”
On the roof Derek was laughing his head off.
I am giving Magic Bites 4.5 stars.
MAGIC BURNS (KATE DANIELS #2) – 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.
Magic Burns was a fun ride! As much as I loved Magic Bites, Magic Burns was WAY better! We get a further glimpse into the secrets that make up the mysterious Kate Daniels. We also learn alot more regarding the Pack and the way things work for them. Dont assume that because you’ve read a werewolf book, you’ll already know it all. Ilona Andrews goes so much further in pack politics than any other book I’ve read.
My favorite thing about this series is even though you have this dark edgy story line, the books are RIDDLED with humorous scenes. I present my favorite moment from Magic Burns:
The vampire stared at me, his mouth slack as Ghastek assessed his options. I took a couple of forms from my desk, put them into the vamp’s mouth, and pulled them up by their edges.
“What are you doing?” Ghastek asked.
“My hole puncher broke.”
“You have no respect for the undead.”
I am afraid to say too much more on this one so we will move on to book #3. 5 stars for Magic Burns!!
Drafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with these days. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot.
But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games—an invitation only, no holds barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament—she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shapeshifting community…
This installment in the Kate Daniels series was HEART WRENCHING. Oh…..my……god….. I don’t want to get into the details of WHY it is so heart wrenching because it will just give up some good details but I can tell you this: HAVE YOUR TISSUE BOXES READY. I cried like a big baby while listening to this audio book. Since I listen to them at work, that’s quite embarrassing.
The thing I loved most about this book was Saiman. You finally get a little more detail on him. … … Ok! Ok! You get a LOT more detail on him and man, you will be FLOORED. But I’m not telling. Go read the damned book!
“His Majesty needs a can-I girl anyway. And I’m not it.”
“A can-I girl?” Andrea frowned.
I leaned back. “‘Can I fetch your food, Your Majesty? Can I tell you how strong and mighty you are, Your Majesty? Can I pick your fleas, Your Majesty? Can I kiss your ass, Your Majesty? Can I…” It dawned on me that Raphael was sitting very still. Frozen, like a statue, his gaze fixed on the point above my head. “He’s standing behind me, isn’t he?” Andrea nodded slowly.
“Technically it should be ‘may I’,” Curran said, his voice deeper than I remembered. “Since you’re asking for permission.” Why me? “To answer your question, yes, you may kiss my ass. Normally I prefer maintain my personal space, but you’re a Friend of the Pack and your services have proven useful once or twice. I strive to accommodate the wishes of persons friendly to my people. My only question is, would kissing my ass be obeisance, grooming, or foreplay?”
The other thing I loved about this book is the little snippit of Curran’s back story that we get. The story behind how exactly he became the Beast Lord is pretty impressive. The saying “Is it ‘cocky’ if you know that it’s true?” could easily be applied here. We find that Curran has an ego the size of Mt. Everest for a reason. A good reason.
I give Magic Strikes 4.5 stars. My only issue with it is the beginning was a little slow off the line. It felt like it took a little longer to gather up the steam that the previous book had.
And now there’s a new player in town-a foe that may be too much for even Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family.
Ok, so in Magic Strikes we got a better picture of Curran’s back story. In Magic Bleeds, it’s Kate’s turn! And what a back story she has!!! We got bits and pieces of it throughout the first three books but this one really unveils the bigger picture.
This book is also the first book that takes a real dark kind of tense turn. I think in the previous three books, I have never questioned whether or not Kate was going to pull out the win. Magic Bleeds really made me question how far this would go before she swooped in and saved the day. Great job on writing in the tension!!
Magic Bleeds gets a 5 star rating from me!
Ok, I have a couple favorite moments from Magic Bleeds. Here’s the first:
“Are you out of your mind?”
It’s not polite to lie to your best friend. “It’s a possibility.”
“That’s my attack poodle.”
“It seems that the young woman made some indelicate suggestion of a threesome…When I got there, Miss Nash was standing by the hot tub in a small bikini, pointing the business end of a SIG-Sauer P-226 at her fella and concerned members of the hotel staff, while dunking the scantily clad female’s head under the water and asking, “Who’s diving for clams now, bitch?”
MAGIC SLAYS (KATE DANIELS #5) – Kate Daniels has quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but starting her own business isn’t easy when the Order starts disparaging her good name. And being the mate of the Beast Lord doesn’t bring in the customers, either. So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead asks for help with a vampire, Kate jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, this is one case where Kate should have looked before she leapt.
BEST BOOK IN THE WHOLE DAMN SERIES!!!! At this point, Kate has had several significant changes in her life, both professionally and romantically. It’s really, really fun to watch her dance around all the fires and jump through all the hoops and try to come out unscathed. She such a solid character and although completely confident in her ability to kick the best of ass, she’s a little emotionally retarded, much like myself. I think that’s why I love her character so much. She’s got all these people in her life now inspiring various spectrums of emotion and she doesn’t quite know how to handle it all.
For the record, I probably wouldn’t either.
Now, the other reason I say best book in the series is that there are two arcs in this book’s plot that will rip your heart out of your chest, drag it through a pit of white hot coals, stomp on it wearing football cleats and then cram it down your throat. Literally, right up until the LAST SECOND of this book, I thought that something VERY BAD was about to happen. I wont say whether or not something bad happened but I will tell you that I cried. A lot. It took me the better part of a week to get through this audio book because it was a touch too emotional at times. Not in a bad way though.
Magic Slays gets 5 stars from me! This is one of those moments where I wish the Pure Textuality scale went higher than 5 stars because Magic Slays would get it!
Funniest quote ever. Almost fell off my chair laughing. Seriously.
“I know it’s late, but could you find a book for me? It’s called The Slavs: Study of Pagan Tradition by Osvintsev.”
Barabas sighed dramatically. “Kate, you make me despair. Let’s try that again from the top, except this time pretend you are an alpha.”
“I don’t need a lecture. I just need the book.”
“Much better. Little more growl in the voice?”
“And we’re there. Congratulations!”
Overall, I am going to give the Kate Daniels series 5 solid stars. This husband and wife writing team are absolutely incredible. To find the kind of chemistry that it would take to write books like these is…….rare, to say the very least. They are a lucky couple and I can’t wait to see where they take everyone in this series. A lot changed in the 5th book and it’s going to change the course of things permanently. To say I am anxious for the next book is a slight understatement. Cheers to Ilona Andrews! That’s one hell of a series you have there. I am sufficiently impressed.
Kate Daniels #5