Why did I get it: This is book 3 in the Kate Daniels series. (This title will also count towards my Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge for 2011.)
How I would rate it: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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…
Review: I was a bit worried going into this book because part of me was getting really ticked off that I was continuing with a series that I liked but didn’t love when I have literally hundreds of other books to choose from. Thankfully and unexpectedly, Magic Strikes was a real game-changer. Instead of getting annoyed or ignoring this book to read something else? I gave up on a fair chunk of sleep in order to keep going, something I never would have done for either of the first two books in this series.
Over all, Magic Strikes was much better than the first two books combined and ten times more exciting. I also think that the humor, the world-building, and even Kate’s point of view all seemed to be executed in a much more rewarding way for me as a reader. So much more seemed to also be at stake and I found it much easier this time around to be emotionally invested.
It definitely helped that Derek was the one in trouble because although suspense of that kind can often make me anxious, I loved realizing how much this fiction world mattered to me as well as seeing Kate in action, dealing with supernatural gladiators, and trying to deal more directly with the secrets she’s had to keep about herself. I also loved learning more about major and minor characters, especially Saiman (who I am now officially in love with), Derek, Curran, Jim, Raphael, Andrea, and just all the hilarious details in terms of shapeshifter courtship rituals. The bad guys were much scarier and once I realized this book was incorporating Hindu mythology, I couldn’t put it down!
That said, the most important part of this book that changed the Kate Daniels series for me was that I found myself really starting to care for Kate who has basically been my biggest obstactle to true reading bliss for two books in a row. Magic Strikes was the first book where I felt like her attitude was actually necessary and not annoying because there was finally some real insight into Kate’s actual issues and because she was finally being less of a confrontational jerk for no reason. Instead she cared about people, tried to understand where they were coming from, and actually possessed a really great sense of humor.
As a very character-driven reader, I found it really rewarding to actually be given positive proof that both the defensive horrible way Kate treated people had to exist in order to be broken down over time. I was also quite relieved to see Kate really, truly begin to shed the bulk of her surly, irritating shell and grow as a character. In that respect I can only be thankful to other reviewers and readers –especially Kristen at Fantasy Cafe— who assured me that Kate got better. I never would have read Magic Strikes otherwise. And it would have been a real shame to never get to see this side of Kate Daniels develop over time.
However, it is only because Kate has grown as a person that I am very close to loving her at long last. I definitely think having an unlikeable main character can be a real problem and/or buzzkill for a series’ opener though and I still stand by my review of Magic Bites, but I’m glad that the dread of wondering what godawful thing Kate will say next is practically gone and that I am eager to see how the steamy, romantic feelings between Curran and Kate continue to develop. In Magic Strikes, it was much easier to find their interest in one another believable, and I really like the way they continue to try to understand the other with mixed results.
In conclusion, best book so far in the Kate Daniels series. I can’t wait to start Magic Bleeds!