Why did I get it: This is book 4 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 out of 5 stars.
Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. 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.
Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community. When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers that there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and who rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.
This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family.
Review: (Note: Mild spoilers.)
I enjoyed this book immensely. Even when I’m beyond frustrated with character decisions, I really appreciate the great pains Andrews* continues to go to in order to make this alternate version of Atlanta to life. I am just as thrilled to see older myths, legends, and religions are being utilized to create incredibly unique and fascinating scenarios book after book.
Kate still had issues to iron out in spades. She was at her best when she was killing bad guys and trying to deal with the various, troubling politics of the groups she is affiliated with. I love that she has become less of a thug and more of a really competent force to be reckoned with. And I loved the many ways in which Magic Bleeds continued from where Magic Strikes left off, There was plenty of action, a really awesome bad guy, humor, really amazing uses of Hebrew and Babylonian magic, and incredibly cool details about various shapeshifters and the animals they become. Towards the end, there were even a few new characters that I’m sure I’ll become nearly as fond of as I am of Julie, Derek, Saiman, Andrea, and Raphael.
I do have to admit that aspects of the first half of the book were incredibly irritating due to the 180 degree turn and nose dive that Kate and her relationship with Curran initially took. I understand that fictional couples, particularly those with as troubled a past as these two have, are going to but heads and have problems. I also appreciate Andrews striving for a realistic take on Kate’s slow steps towards accepting who she is, and I do like that it has been a slow build up given how damaged both of these characters are. But I I didn’t like the weird addition of new set-backs to their being capable of mature interactions just when they’d finally made some awesome progress in the previous book. I understand that all of their petty squabbling was supposed to keep them from dealing with larger issues both characters had in terms of commitment, compromise, and vulnerability… but it’s a good thing Saiman caused a ton of mischief or who knows how long Kate and Curran would have kept at it.
Thankfully putting up with their ridiculous drama was a richly rewarded effort. The second half of the book was fantastic and impossible to put down. Not only did the plot pick up, but Kate and Curran did more than act like they were six year olds. I especially loved Kate and Aunt B’s conversation about what being an Alpha would mean. And how Kate dealt with shapeshifters and their challenges when Curran was out of commission. By the end of the book, I was completely sold on Curran and Kate’s relationship, and very happy that they’ve found each other. Once there wasn’t time to be petty or to deliberately misunderstand one another, they were able to be honest with one another in a really wonderful, believable way. Their conversations, their connection, their slowly learning to become a functional team, and the strength of their love by the end of the book was really great.
Moving onto the next book (Magic Slays), I am going to be keeping my fingers crossed that Curran and Kate can really keep moving forward from here on out. I wouldn’t mind the series getting to the point where they’re a somewhat happy, somewhat functional couple dealing with all sorts of messy, crazy things together.
In conclusion, really, really good. If you like Urban Fantasy, authors who really work hard to make their fictional worlds remarkable, and characters that grow over time, you’ll like the later Kate Daniels books.
* I keep forgetting to mention this in reviews, but I am aware that Ilona Andrews is actually two people writing together. I just figure it’s easier to just talk about the pseudonym in reviews.