Book Review – Magic Bites

Why I read this book:  One of the stories I’m working on is urban fantasy, so I wanted to read some modern urban fantasy to get a feel for it.

What I learned from this book:  Ilona Andrews has an incredibly fast moving plot.  There isn’t a whole lot of setup, and we are dumped head-first into action.  And it works.  No need to inundate your reader with backstory, regardless of how important I feel it was.

What I won’t do because of this:  The characters felt shallow.  This is the first in a series, so I imagine they may get better as time goes on, but I felt like some of the plot transitions felt abrupt and arbitrary.

Good Reads Review below:

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book in an urban fantasy series featuring Kate Daniels, a magic wielding mercenary that will just as soon kick your ass as have a friendly chat.

The book is set in a pseudo-futuristic Atlanta where magic has exploded into our reality. These magic surges cause technology to fail, and have given rise to many popular fantasy elements, including a cold war between an necromantic power ring (called the People) and a group of lycanthropes (called the Pack).

Throughout the story, we see familiar landmarks that have been altered in some way as buildings have been destroyed or converted to new purposes. Kate’s mentor, a member of magical law enforcement called the Knights of the Order has been slain, and Kate must navigate these groups, build alliances, and tap her contacts to determine who killed him.

What I enjoyed: Andrews has created a reach world that doesn’t follow the same stereotypes as many urban fantasies, adding a different spin on the popular Lycanthrope vs Vampire war. Additionally, the book dives straight into the action without the need for preamble and complicated setup. We don’t need to see how Kate became a mercenary, or how the magic waves started tearing apart this city. These things are given, and bits of this backstory is teased out during the novel. What we get is a richly established setting and no boring narratives in the story that keeps things constantly moving forward.

What I didn’t enjoy: The characters can come across as cliche. Common archtypes are played out quickly ranging from our heroine (Butt-kicking take-nothing-from-nobody hard case with the heart of gold) to her close companions (including a Happy-go-lucky kid side-kick and a stoic talk-dark-and-handsome Big Awesome). Additionally, while the pace is great in that we have no dull moments, it often jumps quickly, with characters exhibiting strong reactions to ensure that the plot moves to where it needs to go, even if those reactions can seem over-the-top.

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