From the BLURB:
A dinner date after a hard day at work sounds heavenly. Of course, when that date is between the Beast Lord and Kate Daniels, things don’t go as planned. Before you know it, undead are running amok, heads are being chopped off, lawyers are deployed and used with extreme prejudice, and drunk vikings are calling people out.
Read at your own risk.
Life in Atlanta just got a whole lot more complicated for Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran. The Pack’s Chief of Security, Jim Shrapshire, is close to quitting when his workload becomes overrun by Kate’s procrastination. Kate is dreading having to break a stalemate in the recently leader-less Mercenary Guild. And to top matters off, Kate and Curran have just been witness to a curious murder by necklace. Now they are running against time to save a child from strangulation-by-jewellery . . . their rescue mission will require deer sacrifices, drunken Vikings and Ghastek the blood-sucker.
‘Magic Gifts’ is a super-sweet treat from beloved urban fantasy authors, Ilona Andrews. It is available to download from Ilona Andrews’ website for 2 weeks from Christmas Day. The novella is approximately 35,000 words long, and takes place right after the fifth Kate Daniels book, ‘Magic Slays’. But this novella is also super-special because it is set at the same time as Andrea Nash’s spin-off book, ‘Gunmetal Magic’, which will be released in the summer of 2012. In other words, ‘Magic Gifts’ is pretty much required-reading for devoted Kate Daniels fans.
This isn’t your typical Christmas novella, not at all. ‘Magic Gifts’ is full of vital information in the set-up for the events in Andrea’s ‘Gunmetal Magic’. It’s not imperative that fans of the series read this novella in order to understand the back-story behind ‘Gunmetal Magic’ (especially since the timeline of both stories runs concurrently, so events will be explained again in Andrea’s version). However, ‘Magic Gifts’ certainly gives fans an idea of what Andrea will be up against in her new (and much-anticipated) spin-off series. . .
One story focus of ‘Magic Gifts’ concerns the leader-less Mercenary Guild. Kate has been tasked with listening to the nomination spiel of both an individual mercenary who wants to lead the guild, and a group who want to lead by committee. The outcome of this decision hints that the future of the Guild will be a very different one from the organization that Kate left, and which kicked Andrea out (for being beastskin). In other words, watch this space.
There is actually a rather action-packed, helter-skelter plot at the heart of ‘Magic Gifts’, concerning Norse runes and a cursed necklace strangling an innocent boy. Kate and Curran are working to beat the clock and save a child’s life before it’s too late. Throw in some drunk Vikings and vampire diplomacy, and this is a compact but adrenaline-fuelled novella.
And, of course, since this is a super-sexy Christmas gift from the lovely Ilona Andrews, there’s also plenty of “Awwww!” moments between newly-mated Kate and Curran. Proving, once again, that marriage has not dimmed their sexy repartee or smouldering chemistry;
“Don’t,” I warned him.
“Mmmm, Kate, Chief of Security. Sexy. Who better to guard my body than the woman who owns it?”
“Curran, I will punch you.”
“Rough play.” Curran pretended to shiver in excitement.
Ghastek is a big player in this novella, and I've got to say I have never liked him more. I found myself chuckling at quite a few of his scenes, and a certain encounter with a boorish and soused Viking was particularly entertaining. I've never really rated Ghastek as a secondary character before, but after his turn in ‘Magic Gifts’, he has certainly grown on me (like a fungus);
The vamp’s red eyes bulged, struggling to mirror Ghastek’s expression.
“Kate, perhaps you need to explain to your significant other that he is in no position to give me orders. Last time I checked, his title was Beast Lord, which is a gentle euphemism for a man who strips nude at night and runs around through the woods hunting small woodland creatures. I’m a premier Master of the Dead. I will go where I please.”
The big draw-card of ‘Magic Gifts’ is the hints it provides for Andrea’s book. Andrea has long been a secondary character, and close friend of Kate’s, who has captivated fans and stolen her fair share of scenes. Andrea has a tragic past mired in her bouda-upbringing; she saw her mother repeatedly raped and beaten, and was herself a victim of childhood cruelty and violence. Andrea went on to become a member of the Mercenary Guild, but only because she acted human and hid her beastskin nature. For a little while, however, Andrea’s prickly temperament and self-loathing was soothed and on-the-mend thanks to bouda prince and reformed Lothario, Raphael. He and Andrea had a particularly lovely and steamy short story in the anthology ‘Must Love Hellhounds’.
However, In recent books Andrea has been kicked out of the organization she dedicated her life to, and abandoned her nearest and dearest in favour of slinking off to lick her wounds. She and Raphael have not spoken since book four, ‘Magic Bleeds’, and he was noticeably absent from ‘Magic Slays’. Well, let me warn you that readers will find out the reason for Raphael’s disappearance (well, part of the reason at least) . . . and Raphael/Andrea fans should prepare themselves. This is about to get messy. Catastrophically heart-breaking, even. I’m just saying, if we thought Kate & Curran had a lot to overcome in their relationship, just wait till you read what’s in store for Andrea and Raphael!
Ilona Andrews have certainly treated their readers to a delicious Christmas treat! I have been anticipating Andrea’s spin-off for months now. And now that I have read the tempting teaser that is ‘Magic Gifts’, I've got to say I’m now even more excited. Ilona Andrews have set up some interesting new Guild politics, and even more fascinating (if heartbreaking) personal hurdles for Andrea Nash to overcome. Look out for ‘Gunmetal Magic’, which can’t get here quick enough for Summer 2012 . . . but in the mean time, get excited by reading ‘Magic Gifts’ (but don’t worry if you miss out on the novella freebie, apparently it will appear as a bonus at the back of ‘Gunmetal Magic’).