Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews on Cover to Cover Book and Blogging Blog by Kat SnarkCheck out on Goodreads | Shop on Amazon
GenreUrban Fantasy | Paranormal Romance
Series: Kate Daniels #1
Pages: 365 pages, Paperback Edition
Read Count: 4? (maybe more?)
My Rating: 4.5 stars!

DescriptionWhen the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the interest of transparency … this is like the fourth time I’ve read this book 🙈 I’ve lost count, so it might be more than that. Ilona Andrews (a husband-and-wife writing duo) were also the first (and only!) author I’ve gone to see specifically. I’ve certainly gone to different book conferences and such where many authors are, but I drove to a different state specifically for them in this case! I would show pictures, but that was several years ago and … let’s just say braces were involved. 

Magic Bites follows Kate Daniels, for whom the series is named, a down-on-her luck mercenary who supports herself by cleaning up “magical problems,” of whatever variety. She’s a very middle-of-the-road mercenary and tries very hard not to stand out too much, for reasons discovered in later books, but when her guardian is murdered, she can’t help but get involved with the case. But this mystery sends her in deep with the Changelings (especially their sexy Beast Lord, Curran) and with the People, necromancers of a kind who control the undead (vampires). It’s so hard to describe without spoiling the plot, so I’ll stop there 🙊🙊

“You know anything about investigative work?” 
“Sure. Annoy the people involved until the guilty party tries to make you go away.” 

This is urban fantasy at it’s finest, and the world that Mr. and Ms. Andrews paint is amazing. Their world-building skills is absolutely unmatched – well, very similar in skills to another idol of mine, Nalini Singh – but I have also read this series several times, so I may be a bit bias 😂 I have heard in some reviews that it’s a bit hard to follow at first, but by the second book you have perfect understanding, so just stick with it. Everything comes together in the end 👌🏻

In this world, Magic and Technology compete for time. When a magic wave hits, technology falters and stops. Cars won’t work, phones function occasionally, and spells and wards are up. When a tech wave hits, the magic falters and electricity is back up and running. It’s completely fascinating, and an entirely new concept as far as I know! 

The Andrews’ have a true gift with characters, however. The ninja hardass female in urban fantasy can get a bit tired sometimes (not usually for me, but some people have to change it up occasionally, and I get it), and the flip-side is someone who’s constantly lying about the woes of their lives. Like, I get it, okay? But Kate is a step above all that. They make her absolutely shine and jump out of the page. She’s very sarcastic, practical and completely kicks ass, yes, but she’s far from a whiner. Her practicality prevents her from moping too much, although she may be prone to a Boone’s Farm (or a few). Yet she’s not a stone-cold hardass. It’s very hard to explain, but Ilona Andrews has it covered with her characterization, believe me! Not to mention her kickass sword, Slayer. I need a sword like that 🙈🙈

Then… there’s Curran 😈 He’s the Beast Lord, and rules the Pack of over 300 shapeshifters in Atlanta. I’d forgotten how much of a slow burn this one was with Curran and Kate. The first book has little-to-no romance in it, just mystery and a few teases for the reader. But believe me, you’ll be wanting for more, but you won’t be disappointed. Oh my gosh, it’s absolutely so much fun!! I don’t want to tell you too much about Curran, because it’s just so much better to discover yourself, believe me! Curran is a Lion Shifter, and believe me, Kate has her fun with it. 

“Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty…”

One of my favorite parts about the Kate Daniels series is the community of characters. It’s not just Kate&Curran – in fact, in this one, it barely is. There’s a full cast of characters of love and enjoy, and they make the book so much fun. I forgot how much I love Derek, the Shifter who shadows Kate for much of the book, and in this one, he’s kind of just a vulnerable little teenager trying to prove he’s a Strong Man. But knowing the series as long as I do, he develops a lot and has an amazing journey, and I can’t wait to grow with him again in my read-through. 

The mystery, too, is what makes this book a standout. It was an honest-to-god paranormal investigation, where you don’t see in a lot of black-and-white paranormal worlds. I love them, don’t get me wrong, but a world as layered, intricate and intense as this one will always offer a better story and mystery. When there are thousands of magic-types and millions of paranormal creatures, the investigation can get intense, as you’d imagine. 

Honestly, this review was so hard for me to write. I love this series so much, but I struggle to describe why without making it sound dumb or under-whelming. This series is something that you need to experience, and once you read the first book, keep going. Because it gets so much better with each book as the community grows and the plot thickens. Read my review of book two: Magic Burns

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Have you read any of Ilona Andrews books? What are some of your favorite slow-burn romances? (Aren’t they the best?!) Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you! 

kat signature cover to cover book blog kat snark

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