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31 March 2009 @ 10:55 am
Magic Strikes  
New Ilona Andrews today.

This would be Book 3 in the Kate Daniels series. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy, and I totally meant to post this review yesterday, the day before its release. I spaced the date and failed, so now I'm posting this the day of its release. :)

I like to keep these as spoiler free as possible.

If you haven't read the first two books in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Bites and Magic Burns, you should. They are also both available in ebook form.

In the plethora of urban fantasy books out there these days, this series is a stand out. Ilona blends technology with magic in her world, linking the two and making each the other's flaw. Magic fluctuates and makes technology unreliable, but when the magic fades, it's good to have tech as a back up. Hence the use of swords and horses in a modern world. It's a great bit of worldbuilding that gives the books a unique feel.

Kate, the POV character, is a strong, independent woman with her own secrets to protect. She tends to be a bit standoffish to that end, and has a hard time opening up to people. Not to mention, her mouth sometimes gets her into trouble, especially when she's talking to Curran, a were lion with a serious case of 'alpha male'. And no wonder - he's the Beast Lord, leader of all the were-creatures. The two have a very strong push-pull attraction going on, and Kate is often forced to deal with him in the performance of her duties as a member of the Order of Merciful Aid. (Not to mention her friendships with certain members of the Pack.) She used to be a mercenary, but now she works to help and protect people for the Order.

I've thoroughly enjoyed both of the previous books in this series, but this was by far my favorite. Truthfully, I've been waiting on pins and needles for it since I finished Book 2. The characters are nicely established now, and the relationships Kate has with others in her sphere are deepening and getting more complicated, despite her need to keep secrets. (There are parts of Kate's origins that even the reader doesn't know yet, an ongoing plot thread that winds through the entire series.) The banter between Kate and Curran, in particular, was full of tension, humor, and unresolved feeling. I won't lie - following how their relationship progresses is my favorite part of the series, although all of Kate's interactions keep you reading. Her mentoring of Derek the werewolf, the odd contest of wills she continues with the dangerously powerful Samain. All of these things are woven nicely into the plot; in fact, it is her friendship with Derek that starts the plot rolling in this book.

Much like when I finished Book 2, finishing the third book in the Kate Daniels series left me wondering when we can expect book 4. The writing is strong, the characters fascinating, and the tension keeps ratcheting higher. You really need to read the first two before sitting down with this one, but I will say this is my favorite of the three. Each book seems better than the last, which is how you want a series to progress. Tiny not-quite-a-spoiler: Fans of Kate/Curran will finally get a little bit of pay off for all the teasing and tension we've had.

I eagerly await the next book to see what Ms. Andrews has in store for Kate. :-)

(For those that have read the snippets in ilona_andrews' LJ, the hot tub scene does not disappoint!)

As a bonus, I'm going to give away a single copy of the book to people who comment on this review. I'll draw the winner at random, and send you a brand new, hot-off-the-presses copy of Magic Strikes, which has beautiful cover art of Kate and Curran. Just comment with your name between now and midnight on Thursday , and I'll do the drawing and post the winner Friday.
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