Joint review by Mandi & Tori
When trouble comes to Atlanta, you can always guarantee Kate Daniels is smack dab in the middle of it, swinging her sword. And trouble is definitely come to Atlanta in the form of Hugh D’Ambrey.
Being consort to the Beast Lord isn’t an easy job. Between struggling to keep her business afloat and dealing with never ending pack issues, Kate has her hands full. During the monthly Conclave meeting, a master of the dead is murdered and the pack is challenged to find the culprit within 24 hours or the People will declare war. If Kate didn’t have enough to do, Curren is off doing business in North Carolina, the pack has a traitor in their mists, and Kate knows Roland is coming for her.
As tensions build, Kate will have to shuck off the last remaining shackles of her youth and embrace who and what she is if she is going to save her city, her friends, and the only man she has ever loved.
Tori: We here at Smexy Books love Ilona Andrews and their bestselling urban fantasy Kate Daniels. Basically, we love everything that comes from this dynamic writing duo and if they write it, we will read it. Often rereading this series multiple times per year, I find comfort in their writing. Each reread provides me with more understanding of this convoluted world and its constantly changing inhabitants. While the familiar draws me in, it’s the evolving world and vibrant characters that keep me returning. Equal parts of humor and horror merge together to form intriguing stories that drag me in and hold me hostage to the end. I find their style of writing addictive and I await their new releases with barely concealed impatience. Thisseries is the perfect urban fantasy with its balance of power, action, and vulnerability.
After the catastrophic breath stealing events in Magic Rises, the Andrews takes pity on their readers and gives us a story filled with love, laughter, tragedy, and hope. Almost everyone now knows who Kate is and all her reasons for hiding are out in the open. She must take the offensive if she hopes to have a fighting chance against Roland. I find the route Andrews is taking concerning Roland to be unique and also keeping within the theme that has permeated the series. No one in here is decidedly good or bad. There are multiple shades of gray and each person must make their own choices on the path they decide to walk.
I love the evolution of Kate Daniels throughout this series. In the beginning we met a sociopath whose versions of right and wrong are made more poignant once we are privy to her back story. Raised and manipulated by her “stepfather” Voron, Kate is one of the good guys because she chooses to be. Her internal moral compass, while skewed, is strong and generally points in the right direction. We have watched as this solitary young woman has taken chances and learned to trust and love. Though for every step she made she was forced back two…she fought, clawed, and struggled to become her own person and not the instrument of destruction Voron hoped to create. In Kate Daniels we see a woman who against all odds has become a hero. What do you think, Mandi? Has Kate’s evolution been to your satisfaction?
Mandi: Her evolution has trumped my satisfaction. I’m not sure I could ask more from a heroine. Kate is bad ass, strong, smart, and extremely talented. We can all agree. But she also accepts her faults. She knows she has a weakness for leaving those she claims as hers (pack, friends, family) behind. She can’t just say, ‘let’s sacrifice one for the good of the pack’ – she won’t leave anyone behind. This doesn’t always make a good leader though. And she knows this. She knows when to ask (or should I say finally give in) Curran for help. She is stubborn, loyal, brave and freaking sarcastic. I love her.
I think it’s safe to say that this book is the book we’ve all been waiting for. Ilona Andrews even wrote a note before the book starts basically telling readers to buckle up (and that there are more books to come). Kate has not one but two big, bad dudes after her – Hugh d’Ambray and daddy Roland. This book she gets tested. Big time tested, like never before. I love that this book (and series) is so violent, dark, gritty – but there are scenes like this that make me laugh so hard:
“Hey, Kate? Have you thought of walking up to Hugh and telling him that he’s got the biggest dick ever?” She spread her arms to the size of a baseball bat.
“No, you think it would work?” I asked
“It’s worth a try. Maybe he’ll be so happy you noticed his pork sword, he’ll forget all about trying to kill us.”
Tori, what did you think of the events that take place in this book as it culminates the overall arc this series has been leading to?
Tori: I went through an “evolution” myself as each event revealed itself. The path twisted and turned; once again proving the sheer talent possessed by the Andrews writing team. They plot a difficult emotional path to Kate’s destiny in here, changing the ongoing story line and showing us that regardless of what you think may happen…they have plenty more tricks up their sleeve. What thrilled me the most was the ease in which everything changed and settled back into place. Fans have spent six books with an expectation towards a certain conclusion only to find out, like Kate, that nothing is ever what it seems.
As always, Kate fights for the underdog and all those she feels are under her protection. Parallels between she and Hugh are expanded upon, showing us what she could have been and what she has chosen to become due to a series of events. Introducing new characters and their thoughts/actions gives readers a new “bone” to chew on as we are herded towards the series conclusion. Old plotlines are effectively wrapped up with realistic results while being used to nudge open new avenues for exploration. Violence and humor go hand in hand here to keep readers thoroughly engaged till the very end.
“The other day Andrea tried to explain to me that apparently I am suppose to have a new thing, an old thing, a blue thing, and something stolen.”
“Who the hell even makes up these rules?”
“Even Julie talked to me about it the other day.”
“What did she say?”
“She thinks I should wear black.”
Some events were almost stupefying in their outcome. I love that Kate isn’t omnipresent and gets caught in the crossfire quite a bit. Her ability to survive is half skill and half luck. I love that while Kate will do anything for the pack, she isn’t stupid enough to believe they will do anything for her.
“Honey, we can fill this place with what we know and you don’t.”
Mandi, you messaged me that certain things happened that you didn’t foresee. Did you find them overwhelming or the perfect introduction for the direction we seem to be going in?
Mandi: I was very happy with the way the big events turned out at the end of this book. Honestly, if I had been told what happens before I read it, I would have thought I wouldn’t like it – but as you read, it all falls into place. It’s like Ilona Andrews knows what they are doing or something! *wink* While this closes a large arc, it also opens up room for some new adventure. Very intrigued and excited to see where we go in the next book.
We also get a hot sex scene! Yeah Curran! And I laughed, I cringed, I held my breath – this author is by far the best storyteller out there.
A few of my favorite quotes/scenes:
“What the hell is this?” Desandra asked (Kate).
“This is Cuddles. She’s a mammoth donkey.”
Derek grinned, leaning on the fence. “Do you have any self-respect left?”
“Trapped by a horde of vampires in the middle of a snow-covered field, huddling around a tiny fire on thin blankets,” Curran said. “Drink it in, baby. All this luxury just for you.”
Tori: I second that ‘Yeah Curran!’ Though I was still a little put out by his actions in Magic Rises, I found my love for him hasn’t decreased. The romance, though limited in interaction in here (Curran is gone three quarters of the book) is still as hot and potent now as it was when it first started. This couple has been through the wringer, both externally and emotionally. They have fought their feelings for so long only to give in; which opened a whole new bag of problems. Not many want to see them together, starting with Curran’s own pack. But this couple truly loves one another with the kind of deep powerful that love not only embraces the good but also the bad. Neither Curran or Kate have any illusions to who they sleep next to every night.
“Hey, I warned you from the start it would be weird. I sat in that bathtub with you and told you that this was a really bad idea. You said you loved me and stayed in the tub. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve made your bed. You have to lie in it.”
“I’ll lie in any bed as long as you’re in it, but this is still weird.”
A menage of secondary characters, new and old, continue to expand in their roles, each a viable player in this high stakes game of life and death. I readily appreciate the different personalities that are injected through out here. As I stated earlier, no one is firmly “good and/or evil.” Each serve their own higher purpose that may or may not eventually come into contact with Kate’s purpose. I enjoyed seeing Kate and Ghastek interact on a more personal level. They have been frenemies for so long, it was interesting seeing them interact on a more personal level. Once again, the Andrews remind us that Kate has male friends (of sort) that exist beyond her relationship with Curran, further solidifying the growth she has undergone in this series. Of course, we see plenty of Andrea, Barabas, Ascanio, and the rest of Kate’s rag tag entourage who fight beside her regardless of what she says or does.
Ascanio shot me another brilliant smile. “I’m sorry for all this trouble. I honestly was just trying to help. But now that I’m here, I couldn’t possibly go back all alone and defenseless. Unless you want to condemn me to certain death. Alone. In the night. In the freezing rain.”
The main conflict is a multi layered concoction of intrigue, tension, violence, and heart stopping scenes as the rules are once again changed on Kate. Multiple plot lines race though the book, twisting and turning to close some long standing open storylines while giving us hints to new ones.Magic Breaks takes everything we have learned and turns it inside out, leaving this reader reeling with all the implications of what’s to come. This series just continues to get better and better. Magic Breaks is a another appealing installment into one of my top recommended urban fantasy series.