As you can see from the title of the post, I'm trying a new feature. I realized that because of my blogging blues, I didn't review a lot of books from my favorite series and authors, books that I really wanted to review. So I'm going to try to play catch up a little bit. I'm still trying to think up of a fun format, so it's different from my usual reviews... if you have any suggestion, feel free! For now though, here's what I came up with :)
Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
published by Berkley (Ace) in July 2013
Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.Genre: Urban Fantasy
Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.
Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…
Series: Kate Daniels, Book #6
If you didn't know yet...
... panacea is a herbal mixture produced by European shapeshifters that can reduce chances of loupism at birth and reverse midtransformation in 1/3 of teenagers, thus saving Pack children.
... the Pack is offered panacea if Curran is willing to arbitrate a dispute between three European packs. Basically, Desandra is the daughter of a powerful Alpha who used her as a pawn and married her to two different men of different packs. She is currently pregnant with twins from different fathers - her husband and ex-husband. Desandra's father has once promised a profitable mountain pass to his first grandchild, but now wants to renegade on the deal. Curran's job is to protect Desandra's life and witness the birth of the firstborn. Things get interesting and complicated when one of the babies appear to be more than just a wolf shapeshifter.
... knowing it's a trap, Curran and Kate still agree to go because 1) they need the panacea and 2) ever since the events of Magic Strikes and Magic Bleeds, Kate has tipped her hand and thus, revealed her true identity to some. As such, it wouldn't hurt to take a leave of absence from Atlanta for a while. Going with them are 11 other shapeshifters and Saiman who is providing transportation.
... the person Kate wanted to avoid most by leaving Atlanta was Hugh. Of course, that won't be happening as he turns out to be their host.
... and conflict arises between the Beast Lord and his Consort as both are being courted: Curran by the daughter of an Alaskan pack Alpha and Kate, Hugh.
My Two Cents...
When I picked up Magic Rises, I really had high expectations. First, because the series has been going strong for me ever since Magic Strikes and second, the two-year gap between Magic Slays and Magic Rises. And while I did enjoy Magic Rises a lot... it wasn't the wowzer I wanted it to be :(
I thought the setting and premise of the book were really interesting, especially since it promised everything I enjoy in this series: good storyline, lots of action and politics with the bonus of seeing more of the world Ms Andrews has created. I really liked the idea of getting away from Atlanta as it added a wave of freshness to the series. It was also fun to see how Curran and Kate handled themselves, knowing they were walking in a trap... Hugh being their host was such a good twist too! LOL. Not only because it was ironic since he was the person Kate wanted to avoid, but it showed that no matter how prepared you are, you can't be ready for everything :) His presence also offered some balance in the storyline in the sense that it turned out not to be only a shapeshifter matter, but involved Kate more in the storyline. The political aspect of Magic Rises was also really well-executed. I always find the Pack's politics interesting because it's quite unique. To me, it has a different kind of intricacy because the shapeshifter world Ms Andrews has created involves more savagery. So to see this on a larger scale was interesting :) The whole mythology aspect of the story also worked for me. It just fit and added a layer of complexity to the storyline :) Oh and as usual, the action was top-notched :)
Few things that worked, but didn't at the same time for me. Overall, I thought the pacing of Magic Rises was good... but in the last third of the book, it got a bit uneven. Personally, I thought the reprieve Curran and Kate got was a bit weird. I know it served a purpose, several actually, but the transitioning was off and that part of the story simply seemed to not fit and be a bit illogical. I mean, Kate disappears and the only person going after her is Curran? And when she shows up with Curran, nobody seems to have been concerned? Also, the final scene for me was rushed. I don't know if there was another way out, but everything escalated too fast. By the way, what happened to the other packs? Did they all die? Finally, there was Chris, the new, utlra-intriguing character that Kate has taken under her wing. I liked that in Magic Rises, there were some casualties and ones that we, as fans of the series, feel deeply. It's never easy when it happens and I understand that we don't want those losses to be for nothing... but it was too convenient to have Chris save the day. Again, was there another option?
While I had some issues, most of them were minor and I could have ignored them easily. What really knocked down my enjoyment of Magic Rises though was the whole conflict between Curran and Kate involving Lorelei. Curran justifies it, but to me, it doesn't fly. I really hated that part of the storyline because I felt it was sooo unnecessary. Although I admit it did fit Curran's high-handedness - to take on the problem on his own without consulting Kate - the resulting behavior was annoying and I really despised it. To me, it was a blatant display of lack of trust :( Also, Kate has been working so hard to fit, to be Pack and he undermined everything. Sure, the shapeshipfters were all close friends to Kate, but still unacceptable with me. Apparently, Mr. Andrews is going to write Curran's POV of this Lorelei episode and all I feel is meh. I think the worst as well was that Kate couldn't have a showdown with Lorelei and be vindicated.
Final Say... B. All in all, I did enjoy Magic Rises; however, the expectations were soooo high ^_^; Add in the relationship issue between Curran and Kate, and I feel Magic Rises fell a bit flat.