All Things Urban Fantasy's Reviews > Magic Burns

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
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's review
Oct 31, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed-by-abigail

Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

In the follow up to Magic Strikes, mercenary Kate Daniels is once again thrown into the path of The Pack (shapeshifters) and asked to retrieve some vital maps that were stolen by a mischievous man who has a tendency to vanish into mist (and steal a kiss or two). Professionally, Kate is saddled with protecting a lovesick teenage girl whose missing mother is involved with a Coven intent on ushering in a malevolent Celtic god to rain destruction on first Atlanta and then the world. Her personal life is no less harrowing as Kate must watch her ex almost-could-have-been boyfriend move on in a big way, and face the possibilities of a suitor that both terrifies and confuses her.

In addition to stellar storytelling, the world building in this series in phenomenal, and, no offense to Kim Harrison, quite possibly the best out there in urban fantasy. Every aspect of life in alternate Atlanta is colored with breathable –sometimes uncomfortably so--paranormal details. The concept of the magic/tech pendulum is a key feature of the Kate Daniels world:

The world has suffered a magic apocalypse. We pushed the technological progress too far, and now magic returned with a vengeance. It comes in waves, without warning, and vanishes as suddenly as it appears. When magic is up, planes drop out of the sky, cars stall, electricity dies. When magic is down, guns work and spells fail. It’s a volatile, screwed-up world. Magic feeds on technology, gnawing down on skyscrapers until most of them topple and fall, leaving only skeletal husks

All the usual otherworldly creatures are present: weres, vamps, witches etc. but each is given fresh life and rules. Vampires, for example, are mindless starving fiends. Forever caught in a limbo between vitality and decay, they are monsters in every sense of the word. Lacking even a shred of humanity, those injected with the Immortuus pathogen are 'piloted' by The People, necromancers of extraordinary magical power. These are not your usual romantic heroes, in Kate’s world, they are the stuff of nightmares.

Shapshifters, on the other hand, are slightly more familiar but no less interesting. There is your standard pack hierarchy, dominants, and alphas. Fans of Laurel K. Hamilton will recognize some of the were dynamics between the wererats, werebears, werehyienas, etc. One pleasant distinction is the Beast Lord, Curren, the uncontested king of the shapshifterrs who is, what else, a werelion. He and Kate have somewhat of a tenuous relationship. Translation: Kate doesn't take kindly to orders and tends to speak first and think later; Curren, not being accustomed to anything but instant and total obedience, sometimes lets his temper get the better of him. Mutual respect is hard won with these two, and of course it is all the more valuable for it.

I’m left with one overriding thought as I finish this review: Kate Daniels is second only to Mercy Thompson in my opinion, and, as Magic Burns can attest, she is rapidly closing that gap.

Sexual Content: A woman explains sex to a teenage girl

Author Comments:

“Kate's world is an interesting place…Magic comes and goes as it pleases, as if somewhere a child is playing with a switch. It's a very unpredictable, volatile world, full of dangerous people: shape shifters, necromancers, mages, knights... Everyone has an agenda and everyone is ready to rip the competition to shreds. In this world lives Kate. She was raised from birth by a man of extraordinary martial skill, who employed all of his expertise to make her into a lethal fighter. To this end, he took her all over the continent to let her train with different experts and he subjected her to grueling training. He made her into a living weapon and gave her a mission. And then he died. Now Kate is alone. She has her mission, but she is smart enough to recognize that she will need a lot more experience and power before she can embark on it. She didn't have much of a childhood. If you really think about it, she doesn't even know how to be a girl - her mother died when she was very young. For now she just tries to make sense of who she is and what she is doing. She is learning how to make friends. And she might be falling in love.” –Ilona Andrews (courtesy of AAR After Hours interview).
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