How did I get it: A review copy of the mass market paperback was sent to me courtesy of Berkley/NAL/Penguin Books. Magic Slays comes out on May 31st.
Why did I get it: This is book 5 in the Kate Daniels series and I couldn’t wait to read it! (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.
Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.
Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.
So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price.
Review: (Note: Contains the mildest of spoilers.)
Magic Slays is right up there with Magic Strikes in terms of quality, and both of them are currently my favorite books in the Kate Daniels series. Everything I’ve enjoyed about previous installments really shone through in this book. Gone were the really irritating juvenile relationship antics, the bizarre dramas, and the stubborn pigheadedness for no apparent reason. Instead of wishing Curran and Kate would get over themselves, I laughed out loud at their exchanges which never happened to me with earlier books. And I really loved seeing them taking significant steps towards being a functional couple and a team.
Not only that, but I finally can say that I’ve come full circle with Kate. I’ve gone from being unable to stand her on any level to really, really caring about her. Why? In Magic Slays, it finally becomes clear that she’s made real progress as a main character and a fictional supernatural being. For once Kate didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book at all, but actively contributed to it in significant ways. I liked seeing her coming fully into her own, developing a working partnership with Andrea, mentoring troubled teenage shapeshifters, learning more about her actual history, solving problems without just cracking wise at everyone, and being willing to admit how much she cared about the people in life. Especially Curran, but I loved seeing her becoming responsible for various shapeshiter teens in need of guidance and mentor-ship.
Kate did do a bit of weird angsting, but it wasn’t obnoxious at all. Considering some of these things she learns in this book, it made a lot of sense although I’m surprised she didn’t Curran some of her questions a lot sooner. She also continues to become really, really powerful and almost mythic in a way that I find really fascinating. At the same time I like that she remains human and that even with all her abilities, there are some things she can’t or at least won’t do. It also helps that most of the other characters have crazy, unique, and sometimes sordid histories too.
Like every other book, the world-building in Magic Slays was awesome and the writing was solid. There is such a richness of detail in these books particularly in regards to the shapeshifter types and behaviors, complex supernatural hierarchies that are in place all over the city, and the various religions/myths/magic users exist in the same fictional setting. Every book reveals one more layer of weird or at least some bizarre new order somewhere and I love it. Barabas, Jezebel, and Ascanio were easily as terrific an addition as Julie, Derek, Saiman, Doolittle, Ghastek, Aunt B, and Andrea continue to be. I definitely missed Raphael, but there was a lot going on without him being here. And Doolittle quoted McCoy, which was hilarious. I could not love that were-honey-badger doctor anymore than I do now.
Surprisingly, the only annoying feature in this book ended up being a very nit-picky one: the continuous and distracting use of the word “Aha.” It shows up a bit in the beginning, but in the second half of Magic Slays, “Aha” shows up time and time again. And what’s odd is that not only Kate but other people to say it too. Sometimes for no good reason. So I definitely understood Abigail at All Things Urban Fantasy‘s frustrations when she expressed them in her 4 Star Review. Still, if my choices are a main character that I loathe to the nth degree or distracting exclamations, I’m more than willing to put up copious amounts of the word “Aha.” Even if I still don’t get why even the Rabbi said it.
In conclusion, so awesome! At long last, I can say honestly say that I cannot wait for the next book in this series and that I really, truly enjoyed the heck out of a book about Kate Daniels. If you didn’t enjoy the first or second book, I’d say just skip to the third book and go from there. You could very easily just start with Magic Slays, of course, but I think you’d miss out on some of the cooler elements of the series if you just went straight to book five.