Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Ugh, sorry, I've been scarce!! Work is killing me, sigh :( My boss' demands, the changes of plans, planning for Men's Day, doing my own experiments while supervising summer students. It's been crazy and I've been cranky and whiny as a result ^_^;  By the way, let me tell you, 5 people in such a small room is too much!

So yeah, had a really bad week and I'm so happy that it's the week-end!! Hopefully, this week-end, I'll be able to do some more planning for RWA! And reading! Ahhhh, that's a nice life :)

What about everyone's else? Any plans this week-end?

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
published by Berkley in May 2011
Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Knights 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. Plus, 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. But it turns out that this is not an isolated incident. Kate needs to get to the bottom of it-and fast, or the city and everyone dear to her may pay the ultimate price...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels, Book #5

The Story: Okay, so the blurb has it all wrong!! In Magic Slays, Kate is getting used to her status as Curran's mate, i.e. Lady Beast, Alpha, Consort, etc., as well as owner of Cutting Edge. Unfortunately, after the events of Magic Bleeds, her ex-boss at the Order made sure that Kate's reputation was in tatters... and as a result, she hasn't had any business. Therefore, when the Red Guard comes to her for help, Kate and her new employee - Andrea whose shifter identity was revealed - jump on the case... even though the details are sketchy. The Red Guard was entrusted with the protection of an inventor, but said inventor along with his project disappeared, leaving a body behind. Kate knows there's much more behind all this, but she's not getting more information from the Red Guard... and let's face it, beggars can't be choosers.

And as predicted, Kate and Andrea soon find out they've stumbled over something big and dangerous... possibly even worst than Kate's aunt, Erra - Erra was only after Kate while this, it could eradicate Atlanta. And also in Kate's true fashion, while investigating, she still has to take care of mundane details such as shapeshifter's politics, her ward running away from school once again and being entrusted with a sex-up teenage bouda. Always fun times ahead with Kate :P

My Opinion: I'm still trying to figure out whether the back blurb being so wrong was a good thing or a bad thing LOL. When I first read the blurb and thought the book was about vampires, I pretty much discarded Magic Slays from my mind. Oh, I was going to buy it, but meh, wasn't that interested, because well vampires in this world building are a bit boring ^_^; However, Magic Slays turned out into something else entirely and I really ended up enjoying it. So the blurb lowered my expectations and as a result, I was really pleasantly surprised :) Guess it was a good thing then :)

I think that once again, Ms Andrews did a fantastic job with the story. It was interesting and engaging; perhaps not full of action as the previous book, but still had a decent amount in it :) Also, I like how she incorporates so many threads in her books, pretty much seamlessly! There is so much happening that it's mind-boggling, but I never feel overwhelmed. Instead, everything meshes well together, balances each other out and makes for a superior quality read. My only real complaint about Magic Slays is that LOL, it was too short. The book is quite thin, especially in comparison to Magic Bleeds. Although everything was wrapped by the end, I just wanted to read more about Kate and her friends :P Seriously, a year is too long!!

While the storylines are good, what really makes this series is the characters. Kate's sarcasm and cynicism is just hilarious, seriously :) Add in Andrea, Curran and company and there's definitively fun times ahead :) There were many LOL moments for me while reading Magic Slays, and what I like the most is that it's not in-your-face comedic relief. It's just snappy banters that makes you smile... true comedy I guess :P And it's those moments, little things really, that really balance out those action-filled, life threatening instances... For some reasons, I just love the following snippet LOL.
The phone did work and Teddy Jo answered on the second ring. I had once read that every day offered a new lesson. The lesson for today, among other things, seemed to be that bargaining with the Greek angel of death should be avoided by any means, because it cost you an arm and a leg.
"Seven thousand," Teddy Jo's gruff voice announced over the phone.
"Six five."
"Kate, the thing cost me five grand. I've got to make a profit."
"First, it's used."
"Now look here," Teddy Jo growled. "It's not a Cadillac. It's a body freezer. The value doesn't drop because you drive it off the lot."
I'm also really enjoying the relationships in the Kate Daniels series. Kate started off pretty lonely, but she now has friends, a mate and a ward. I really like the friendship between Kate and Andrea, there's an understanding between them... something that Kate cannot get from Curran.

Speaking of relationships, I was a bit sad with the direction Ms Andrews took regarding Kate's relationship with her stepfather, Voron :( Theoretically, it makes sense really... However, emotionally, I feel like Kate. It's just sad that the one memory she really cherishes, the one constant  from her childhood had to be taken away from her :( On the other hand, I was quite happy for her to discover some kin and really, they're hilarious as well. I hope they play a bigger role in the future!

Finally, Curran. It's so fun to see Kate knee-deep in shapeshifter's politics :) One thing that's sure, Kate is a very quick-thinker! LOL. I'm enjoying the relationship between Curran and Kate, although they didn't have as much interactions as I thought they would. I think though, that was a good decision from Ms Andrews... not to overload the readers, make us cherish it more :) I'm also happy it's not all pink and perfect between Kate and Curran - as Kate still has a lot of doubts and is not used to loving someone so much. Furthermore, I like that Ms Andrews addressed the issues of Kate's identity - the fact that Curran knew before she told him. It just made sense to me and it was a niggle that I had... I mean, with all he's seen Kate accomplish, to not have at least some doubts just didn't make sense to me given his position, his powers. Know your enemy... and Roland is definitively an enemy.

All and all, I was very happy with Magic Slays :) It was a pleasure to re-visit Kate and Curran. I was happy that we saw a bit more of Derek, but disappointed that there was so little of Raphael, Jim and Dali... Although from what I hear, Andrea might get a spin-off book which means Raphael should feature prominently and we can find Jim and Dali in Magic Dreams, a novella part of the anthology Hexed.

My Grade: A-. I don't know if it's because I had low expectations of Magic Slays, but it turned out to be a great book that I enjoyed immensely. Looking forward to the next book, hopefully, it will involve Hugh d'Ambray :)