I recently read “Magic Bites” by Ilona Andrews, published in 2007.
I read this book because I am starting to work my way through a list of what is called “urban fantasy.” This term provoked an interesting discussion on the over-genre-ization of novels these days. What the heck is “urban fantasy?” I know what people mean by it, but is it really something? Really? Isn’t it just fantasy or fiction?
Anyway, Ilona Andrews is actually: two writers, Ilona and Gordon. From their website we learn: “We write urban fantasy, an odd hybrid of a genre that includes elements of mystery, fantasy, and horror. Our stories are set in a modern setting that has a touch of paranormal to it.” Frankly, I wasn’t very surprised when I found out that its a team of authors. Somehow, though they do write seamlessly together, there was something about the writing in this little novel that made me think that either the author did a LOT of research on some very minor details, or the editor really was picky in some places. Turns out its not all culled from one brain!
Magic Bites is the first novel in the Kate Daniels series. The website says: “Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic… One moment magic dominates, and cars stall and guns fail. The next, technology takes over and the defensive spells no longer protect your house from monsters. Here skyscrapers topple under onslaught of magic; werebears and werehyenas prowl through the ruined streets; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds. In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, she must choose to do nothing and remain safe or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy…”
Its an easy summer-read book. I mean, you do not have to muscle through this one. Which is nice. I was truly afraid it would be very… how can we describe it?… very romancy/girlie. And sure, the main character is a chick, but she’s not some damsel in distress full of love-struck big hearts. And that is very much a good thing for the book. Look at Kate’s picture on the front cover. It is an OK cover; drawn by Chad Michael Ward.
The enemies, villains and allies are formed through alliances that seem, more or less, to want to keep the status quo. One fantastic thing about the story is that vampires are not some neo-Gothic, emo romancy types. Vampires in this series are entirely monsters – basically like zombie insects. And this is so wonderful because I am sick of the ridiculous characterization of vampires as “cool”. (Twilight/True Blood) Anyway, I am interested in reading more about the beasts.
Some may be a bit confused or dissatisfied with the start of the book – feeling its very in media res. I suppose it does start that way, but its okay, and it works for the book. Overall, this is not the best urban fantasy series start – there are other similar series I would read further in before I got to book two here. I guess it lives up to the fluffy entertainment it is meant to be in a rather average way.