Can the husband and wife writing duo of Ilona Andrews set an entire novel in the Kate Daniels world and make it as enjoyable as the rest of the books in the series even when Kate isn't the main focus of the story? They sure can.
This story is told from Andrea's POV as she investigates the murder of four pack members working for Raphael's reclamation company. As followers of the series are aware, he walked away from her in Magic Bleeds when she put the Order before the needs of the Pack, something he couldn't understand. We learn a lot about Andrea in this book and watch her transformation as she finally accepts who and what she is.
Most of the major players in the series are on scene at some point in the book. We get to see Kate using her sword, Curran grumping over the fact that she's put herself in danger, Ascanio, the over-sexed teenage bouda, is finally learning to obey, so is being taught how to investigate. Roman has a bigger part in this story and we learn more about him. The more I learn, the more I like him. I would imagine he'll have his own story at some point.
There's plenty of action, magic, deities and emotion in this story. If you haven't read the prior books you could get away with reading this one first. There's enough information given for you to appreciate the world that was built. But it would be a great deal more enjoyable if you read the other books first. I eagerly awaited the release of this book, and I loved it!
There is one area nearer to the end of the story where it's obvious that something is being described as already happened that we haven't read about. It's a little startling, but enough information is given to make the story work. As it turns out, the novella, Magic Gifts, added to the end of the book, describes that very scene.
To those not familiar with the series, a shift happened years ago and magic invaded the world. Magic and technology don't get along (magic destroys technology and buildings) and each hold dominance from hours to a couple of days. The world consists of regular humans, shapeshifters, vampires who are mindless and are "driven" by necromancers, as well as witches, various other magic users, deities, and Kate Daniels, a woman in her twenties with very old blood and a great deal of power who spent her life learning how to fight so that she can eventually have a showdown with her many-thousands-year-old father while keeping who and what she is a secret. She's a kick-butt, very knowledgeable woman who often battles monsters and over the series learns what it's like to have a friend and let others close to her. The series contains plenty of mythology from different pantheons.
Magic Gifts takes place during Gunmetal Magic and it deals with a young boy whose life is endangered when his unfeeling mother throws a gold chain on his neck in order to protect her husband after it suffocates the boy's sister. This is witnessed by Kate and Curran, so the story deals with trying to find out what's going on and how to save the boy before the chain suffocates him. It also explains why Kate isn't available to be of much help in Andrea's investigation in Gunmetal Magic. The story also involves picking a leader for the Mercenary Guild, Ghastek and the vampires as well as the Norse Heritage Foundation, first introduced to us in Magic Slays.