Review: Magic Burns (Kate Daniel #2) by Ilona Andrews

November 4, 2009 Review 9

image Book Description: Down in Atlanta, tempers—and temperatures—are about to flare… As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels knows how waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shape shifters, she quickly realizes much more is at stake. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug of war between two gods hoping for rebirth, and if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive.


Review:   In the follow up to Magic Strikes, mercenary Kate Daniels is once again thrown into the path of The Pack (shapeshifters) and asked to retrieve some vital maps that were stolen by a mischievous man who has a tendency to vanish into mist (and steal a kiss or two).  Professionally, Kate is saddled with protecting  a lovesick teenage girl whose missing mother is involved with a Coven intent on ushering in a malevolent Celtic god  to rain destruction on first Atlanta and then the world.  Her personal life is no less harrowing as Kate must watch her ex almost-could-have-been boyfriend move on in a big way, and face the possibilities of a suitor that both terrifies and confuses her.

In addition to stellar storytelling, the world building in this series in phenomenal, and, no offense to Kim Harrison, quite possibly the best out there in urban fantasy. Every aspect of life in alternate Atlanta is colored with breathable –sometimes uncomfortably so–paranormal details. The concept of the magic/tech pendulum is a key feature of the Kate Daniels world:

The world has suffered a magic apocalypse. We pushed the technological progress too far, and now magic returned with a vengeance.  It comes in waves, without warning,  and vanishes as suddenly as it appears.  When magic is up, planes drop out of the sky, cars stall, electricity dies.  When magic is down, guns work and spells fail. It’s a volatile, screwed-up world. Magic feeds on technology, gnawing down on skyscrapers until most of them topple and fall, leaving only skeletal husks behind.-Ilona-Andrews.com

All the usual otherworldly creatures are present: weres, vamps, witches etc. but each is given fresh life and rules. Vampires, for example, are mindless starving fiends.  Forever caught in a limbo between vitality and decay, they are monsters in every sense of the word.  Lacking even a shred of humanity, those injected with the Immortuus pathogen are ‘piloted’ by The People, necromancers of extraordinary magical power. These are not your usual romantic heroes, in Kate’s world, they are the stuff of nightmares.

Shapshifters, on the other hand, are slightly more familiar but no less interesting. There is your standard pack hierarchy, dominants, and alphas. Fans of Laurel K. Hamilton will recognize some of the were dynamics between the wererats, werebears, werehyienas, etc.  One pleasant distinction is the Beast Lord, Curren, the uncontested king of the shapshifterrs who is, what else, a werelion. He and Kate have somewhat of a tenuous relationship. Translation: Kate doesn’t take kindly to orders and tends to speak first and think later; Curren, not being accustomed to anything but instant and total obedience, sometimes lets his temper get the better of him. Mutual respect is hard won with these two, and of course it is all the more valuable for it.

I’m left with one overriding thought as I finish this review: Kate Daniels is second only to Mercy Thompson in my opinion, and, as Magic Burns can attest, she is rapidly closing that gap.

Sexual Content: A woman explains sex to a teenage girl

Author Comments:

“Kate’s world is an interesting place…Magic comes and goes as it pleases, as if somewhere a child is playing with a switch.  It’s a very unpredictable, volatile world, full of dangerous people: shape shifters, necromancers, mages, knights…  Everyone has an agenda and everyone is ready to rip the competition to shreds.  In this world lives Kate.  She was raised from birth by a man of extraordinary martial skill, who employed all of his expertise to make her into a lethal fighter.  To this end, he took her all over the continent to let her train with different experts and he subjected her to grueling training.  He made her into a living weapon and gave her a mission.   And then he died. Now Kate is alone.  She has her mission, but she is smart enough to recognize that she will need a lot more experience and power before she can embark on it.  She didn’t have much of a childhood.  If you really think about it, she doesn’t even know how to be a girl – her mother died when she was very young.  For now she just tries to make sense of who she is and what she is doing.  She is learning how to make friends.  And she might be falling in love.” –Ilona Andrews (courtesy of AAR After Hours interview).

Read Chapter One of Magic Burns here

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; First Edition edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441015832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441015832

9 Responses to “Review: Magic Burns (Kate Daniel #2) by Ilona Andrews”

  1. Mandi

    Nice review – I love this series and in my opinion, they only get better!! You are right – tough call between Kate and Mercy for top heroine spot. (have to add Sirantha Jax from Ann Aguirre in the mix too!)

  2. Michelle

    Thanks for the review – I am so loving Kate and Curran. Their relationship is perfect and like you say the world building is phenomenal!! She and Mercy are totally at the top – And I second the suggestion for you to read the Sirantha Jax series – they are pure genius!!

  3. Danielle87

    Great review.
    I've gotta throw Rachel Morgan (from Kim Harrison's 'The Hollows') into the mix for reigning UF female. But you're right, Kate Daniels is pretty kick-ass.
    One thing the Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels series have in common are slow-burning romances. I love the fact that Curran and Adam aren't being rushed, yet fans still read the simmer.

  4. Tricia

    The Kate Daniels series is one of my favorites its one that just keeps getting better! Great Review!