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Sunday, September 16, 2018

'Magic Triumphs' Kate Daniels #10 by Ilona Andrews

From the BLURB:
Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle.

But she has to try.

For her child.
For Atlanta.
For the world.

‘Magic Triumphs’ is the tenth and last book in Ilona Andrewws’ epic urban fantasy series, ‘Kate Daniels’ that first began back in 2007.

Okay. This is it. The end.

There may be some SPOILERS ahead so, consider yourself warned.

This book came out on August 28 but I held off until now (my birthday weekend, as a special treat) to actually sit down and read. And I fully admit, there was a degree of stalling to this strategy because I don’t think I was ready to say goodbye to this universe that I’ve been checking in to for eleven-years now … though with the caveat that; it’s pretty clear Ilona Andrews is not entirely done with this universe, even if Kate Daniels-focused arc is wrapped up …

This is the big-bad end to the ‘Kate Daniels’ series and show-down with Kate’s all-powerful, egotistical father. But from ‘Magic Bites’ to now, Kate has slowly been accumulating love, life and family from the loner she once was. There’s so much more she risks losing now, and the stakes (that have been accumulating across 9 books and countless short-stories) are higher than ever.

The books opens not with an adrenaline-rush – as most readers would have been coiled for – but with a more sedate pace and establishment of Kate and Curran’s home life. Including, yes – a child, a baby called Conlan who is developing at a rapid pace. And it’s in this sweeter side that Ilona Andrews remind readers of the true crown they wear in the realms of serial fiction – gifting readers the best example of life after ‘will they or won’t they?’ dramatic romantic tension. Conlan is another jewel in this crown, as possibly one of the best examples of a child-character integrating perfectly into a previously childless core cast.

But when the coil snaps – as it always needed to – Ilona Andrews hits the ground running. But it must be said, they owe a lot of the perfect pacing and wrap-up to ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ finale blueprints; particularly season 5 ‘The Gift’ and series finale ‘Chosen’. There was one moment in ‘Magic Triumphs’ that so perfectly harks back to season 5 episode ‘Checkpoint’ and Buffy’s epic power speech to The Watchers' Council (“You're Watchers. Without a Slayer, you're pretty much just watchin' Masterpiece Theater.”) I say this with the utmost respect that I could see these tendrils in Kate’s finale, because truth be told – nobody did season finales and big-bad arc wrap-ups better than ‘Buffy’ and that legacy carries over here to Kate’s grand finish to great effect.

I particularly loved that we got to touch-base with all the secondary characters we’ve come to love, and who populated Kate’s life to the point that those stakes became perilously high. A particularly lovely addition to the cast was a character named Yu Fong, who first appeared in Dali & Jim short-story ‘Magic Dreams’ and then later became part of Julie’s scholastic world in ‘An Apple for the Creature’ anthology short-story, ‘Magic Tests’. Yu Fong has long stayed with me and intrigued me, and I was so glad to see him become a player in ‘Magic Triumphs’ … it begs the question then; why establish such an intriguing character most fully in the series finale? Hmmmmm.

I would have also loved a Raphael and Andrea (and baby!) scene together, because I loved that couple. Ditto Dali and Jim (though we get a lovely sense of their future, even without the two sharing a scene physically). BUT … I am slightly wounded that a favourite character – teen bouda and bad-boy Ascanio – makes no appearance. He is alive, and well, and alluded to on a confusing number of occasions throughout … but he doesn’t get a single scene and it’s slightly maddening. The only thing that lessens this wound is a niggling suspicion that he has bigger things in store for the future; I do believe a lack of Ascanio and meatier role for Yu Fong were big hints of what’s to come.

As to that … I was GLEEFUL over that epilogue. Julie has felt like a storm gathering speed to become a tornado for a while now, and with that send-off cliff-hanger it’s an out and out confirmation from Ilona Andrews that they’re tucking her away for another day. I’ve no doubt that the writing-duo will concentrate on Hugh d'Ambray and his ‘Iron Covenant’ world for a little while (or not – maybe ‘Iron and Magic’ will be much like Andrea’s one-off ‘Gunmetal Magic’?) but I can see them having a little rest after their mad-cap ten-books-in-eleven-years publishing schedule, and any break could also act as time-passing for Julie’s character. Because – yes – much as I am ready for her to come riding back already, with Erra and a cast populated by Ascanio, Yu Fong, and especial concentration on Derek … Julie does need to mature, and the easiest way to do that is off the page where she can obtain some mystery and secrecy for readers too.

But it’s a testament to Ilona Andrews and the ‘Kate Daniels’ series that ‘Magic Triumphs’ is – wait for it! – SUCH A TRIUMPH that concludes so beautifully, but I’m also already desperate for them to keep carrying this world along. This tenth book walks a majestic tightrope of being both utterly fulfilling as its own entity, while also mouth-watering for the possibilities of Julie and more.

I will not begrudge Ilona Andrews a rest. But when you’re an author this good and so much at the top of your game, you’ve got to expect that your readers will be baying for more books. That’s the price you pay when you’re THIS DAMN GOOD – to end a series with such satisfaction, at the same time stoking the fires for more. Brava.


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