Reviewed: June 7, 2011
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels Series, Book 5
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 320 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Adjusting to life as the Beast Lord's mate and starting up her own investigator's business has kept Kate Daniels more than a little occupied in the two months since she kicked the ass of her plague-wielding auntie Erra. She held off all challengers to her position as the alpha's mate, stayed by a comatose Curran's side when the other alphas wanted her gone, and since Curran woke, has been serving with him and learning the intricacies of Pack politics.
Unfortunately, she hasn't actually had a single client since she opened her business thanks to a hell of a slander job by the head of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid. She parted ways with them on, shall we say, acrimonious terms just before the fight with Erra got really out of control. Now she's going a little stir crazy as she sits on her butt in her new office and waits for the bills to pile up and listens to the phone not ring. She's fully aware that her very existence and the magic in the blood in her veins has set her up for a collision with the world's biggest bad guy, so it's hard to be bored, but until a client walks in the door and she can start supporting herself she's going to feel like Curran's kept woman, and that is not exactly who Kate is. Pack politics aside, Kate is a fighter. A killer. A solver of the sorts of problems that require bloodshed to solve. And she's very good at it.
What Kate is best at, however, is finding catastrophe-sized impending disasters and tripping right into the middle of them, so it is hardly a surprise when her phone does ring or her first client finally strides boldly through the door. Now Kate, along with her newly hired staff of Cutting Edge Investigations, Inc. (fond and familiar faces, both), have to find a missing object that does who-knows-what, track down a kidnapped magic theorist taken by who-knows-who, and prevent the city from blowing to you-know-where.
Just another beautiful day in Kate Daniels' deadly neighborhood, boys and girls!
For the uninitiated or uninformed, Magic Slays is the fifth action-packed book in the Kate Daniels Series, a complex and dangerous world full of intricate and original mythos featuring fierce and fearsome characters. Of the active series I'm currently reading - and they are legion - the husband and wife writing team known as Ilona Andrews pens two of my top five: The Edge, a paranormal romance series, and this one. I highly recommend both for fans of either genre, and I strongly suggest both series be started at the beginning, though truly, more so for this one than the other.
Throughout this series, happy readers have seen Kate grow into a far less secluded, closed off mercenary. She's still got the big fight with Roland to look forward to, but in the mean time she's finally taking a chance to live a little with the mate she loves, the kid she saved, the friends she trusts, and of course, the attack poodle with the digestive track from hell. One of the things I love most about this series in general and this book in particular is the rich and thorough glimpse we get into Kate's day-to-day issues above and beyond all the potential world-ending catastrophes. Andrews peppers her readers with these tasty gems - squabbles between new mates, best friend gossip, stupid kid antics, pet problems, etc. - and mixes it all up with the catastrophic life-ending stuff to present a stunningly realistic (relatively speaking) whole that is recognizable as life... to the extreme.
The storyline of Magic Slays is one of my favorite in the series for the very development and maturity that is in evidence with Kate, and the heartwarming but realistic relationship she has with Curran. The series arc development had some major plot points fleshed out here, but more subtly than in the last book, and some startling family history came to light for Kate that provided some interesting insight. For the book arc, the danger was probably the most threatening and potentially devastating I've seen so far in the series, and I really enjoyed how all the pieces were so meticulously fit together.
I just flat out love how Andrews spins a story.
Of course, there were still the ubiquitous mythos info dumps that have been scattered through the series in various degrees of abundance. I've always admired Andrews for the way exposition concerning series history is handled in every book, reminding readers of what's come before or catching up new readers in as thorough but concise a manner as possible. Other instances of info dumps, however, have caused some problems for me.
This series is full of a diverse stable of creatures with various cultural histories and religions which necessitate a ton of explanation, not to mention the necessary definition of story-centric magical and technical mythos that defines the world building. More than occasionally all that detail comes out in large descriptive sections full of very technical, historical, or magical information and it does, on occasion, make my hair hurt when I come across them. Fortunately, there was only one that really made my eyes glaze over in Magic Slays, where readers are afforded an exceptionally complex Lyc-V dissertation, including but not limited to a breakdown of all the nasty stuff that leads to going Loup. The rest of it was handled in smaller, easier to digest chunks that didn't bog the story down or slow the pace too much.
I wasn't totally thrilled with a couple of the plot developments in this book, in particular one between Kate and Julie, the details of which will remain undisclosed to prevent spoilers. Also - and for the first time in the series, I was less than thrilled with the conclusion, which felt a little rushed and under-written considering the depth and detail preceding it in the narrative. I wish the epilogue had been developed into a couple of full chapters, instead, as there was too much important stuff that got crammed in and cut off.
None of those issues took too much from my enjoyment of the book, though, and it's still one of my favorites in the entire series. And maybe it's the romance lover in me, but there's a scene in this book between Kate and Curran that I swear was worth every single second I've spent reading every single word in this series prior to it and more than worth every single dime spent on each and every book. I love them together. I just do.
It's not a romance series, per se, but the thread of their developing relationship has been stitched into the fabric of the series to fantastic result. Yes, Curran is a secondary character; always has been. This really is Kate's show. That being said, I can't help but thoroughly and completely enjoy seeing them together as a realistic couple, not just some romantic HEA fairy tale (and believe me, normally a big fan of the HEA fairy tale). It was...surprisingly heartening to see them cope with each other in what felt like a very true-to-character, organic fashion. It is a trend I hope continues because the Beast Lord and his deadly consort are so very, very perfect for each other.
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