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Friday, August 21, 2015

'Magic Shifts' Kate Daniels #8 by Ilona Andrews

From the BLURB:

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

‘Magic Shifts’ is the eighth book in Ilona Andrew’s ‘Kate Daniels’ urban fantasy series.

I went into this instalment with slightly lower expectations than I usually take into my yearly ‘Kate Daniels’ reading. This was due to the fact that I had some issues with book #7, ‘Magic Breaks’ – though I’m in the minority for that – but I really thought the book was a light-footed affair and for all the build-up in plot, I wanted a little more carnage and casualties. So I went into #8 a little wearier than usual, but came away more in love with this series than ever before …

This book begins where ‘Breaks’ left off, with Curran having stepped down as Beast Lord of Atlanta and he, Kate and Julie moving into a nice suburban setting and three-storey house that Kate is secretly thrilled to discover feels like her first real home. Kate and Curran are not permitted near the Keep as Jim and Dali move to take their place as new Beast Lord and Consort, and meanwhile they’re working away at Cutting Edge which is when they receive word of a missing shifter and packs of ghouls roaming Atlanta … the two unusual events are connected, and it’s up to Kate and Curran to get to the bottom of it.

I loved the early ‘Kate Daniels’ books for tracking Kate and Curran’s relationship from animosity to love – it was a slow, delicious burn and I will admit that I haven’t quite enjoyed their relationship as much since they claimed each other. But in ‘Magic Shifts’ I loved reading Kate and Curran’s changed dynamics in a domestic setting … dealing with uppity neighbours, piling bills and a sometimes-sullen teenager in Julie. There’s just something about them moving to the suburbs that has rejuvenated their romance and made it all the more intriguing to me. I loved their quibbling and compromising, especially because it still has this fantastical/snarky edge to it that is both absurd and lovely;  

“Where were you? What happened?” I carved a chunk out of another lizard’s face.  
“I just took the kids to fight some ghouls,” Curran said.  
Oh, so it was fine, then . . . Wait. “You did what?”  
He kicked a lizard. It flew into the others like a cannonball. “I called Jim before we left the house to talk about ghouls, and he said they found some in the MARTA tunnels. So I grabbed the kids and did a little hunting.”  
I would kill him. “Just so I get it right, Jim calls you and says, ‘Hey, we found a horde of ghouls in the MARTA tunnels,’ and your first thought was, ‘Great, I’ll take the kids’?”  
“They had fun.” A careful note crept into his voice. Curran saw the shark fin in the water but wasn’t sure where the bite would be coming from.  
“You even took the dog.”  
Grendel chose that moment to try to shove past me. I shoved him back into the Guild and he began running back and forth behind us, growling.  
“He had fun, too. Look at him. He’s still excited.” 

The mystery at the heart of this instalment is brilliant – the monsters that spew forth are creepy-fantastic, and with Ilona Andrews skill for description, they made my skin crawl. I also appreciated the heart at the centre of this mystery – I don’t want to say who it concerns, but it does lead to a look at pack politics and one family’s hierarchy in particular that was really fascinating, and added a new dimension to quite a few characters who’ve only ever been on the periphery, as well as Curran.

But the main reason I loved this instalment was for the build-up and stakes that are ratcheted up now. With a degree of domestic bliss for Kate, comes more she could potentially lose to her father. At one point in this book she muses on her very isolated childhood, versus all the people who she now loves and are relying on her … which means she has more to lose. I think that’s been building up for a while now, but in this book Kate actually starts cataloguing all those people and becoming increasingly scared of her father … even as she shares one of the hands-down best scenes Ilona Andrews have ever written, which is daddy/daughter deadly, there’s this strange dynamic of love/hate between them that’s so delicious for all the future possibilities.

My miniscule qualms about this book are the same I’ve had ever since Ilona Andrews presented the fascinating triangle of Julie, Derek, and Ascanio – and that is that I always want MORE! Especially since seeing this Tweet from author Jeaniene Frost, dropping massive hints about a Julie and Derek book that Ilona Andrews discussed with her … I WANT IT!

‘Magic Shifts’ is a brilliant instalment in this phenomenal series. There is an end in sight now, and that’s being wound up tighter and tighter especially in this book … and now I’m at that magical place as a reader, where I both want to know how it’s all going to play out, but I also can’t stand to think of this series coming to a close (… but, y’know, a Julie spin-off would ease that somewhat. HINT. HINT!)


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