Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Magic Bites

So, besides writing, my great passion is reading. Pretty much, if I'm not writing (which, unfortunately, happens more than I'd like it to), I'm reading. From time to time, I encounter one of those great page-turners that really leave an impression on me.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews is one of these books--for me, anyway. It's book I of the Kate Daniels series, which currently consists of three books and had better be coming out with a fourth soon... or else I'll cry. Horribly. For days and days and days. And then feel like an idiot...

Without further ado, I'd like to present a book review of Magic Bites. I tried not to include spoilers, but... (Oh, and here you can find Ilona Andrews' site.) Well, that was mostly a bit of ado about nothing (see what I did there?), but now, without any further ado (really!), I present Lilli's official Magic Bites review! (Hey... where'd those crickets come from?)

I have to admit that, at the moment, one of my favorite parts about this book is the vampire concept. I’m sick to death of those modern super-hot-sexy vampires with the smoldering eyes and the marble skin and the glittery stalker aspects, and Andrews’ take on the vampire is a refreshing break. Vamps in Kate Daniels’ alternate-universe Atlanta aren’t, by any stretch of the imagination, sexy. Nothing but skin, muscle, and bones, if they don’t have a necromancer telepathically controlling them, the vampires kill anything that bleeds, driven by pure bloodlust. No thinking for them, which also means no angsting or moaning about the immorality of their unfortunate situation. Not to mention, most if not all vamps are created voluntarily.

Of course, that’s not even really a huge deal at this point in the series. Whether or not vampires become one remains to be seen.

Kate Daniels is a wisecracking, blade-crazy mercenary with the talent to annoy everyone around her to either death or attempted homicide. The whole tough-Amazon thing might be a bit stereotypical nowadays, but Kate’s characterization is so masterfully done that one can’t help but forgive her for that. Every instance of dialogue is peppered with sarcastic asides that really bring the story to life. It helps that Andrews is a great writer in her own right.

Me being the grammar Nazi that I am, I couldn’t help but notice a few instances where someone failed to put a comma. The shapeshifter concept also threw me for a bit of a loop—shifters in the Daniels universe are exceedingly powerful and most end up being pretty good-looking, too. Normal humans don’t stand a chance against them unless they’re armed with silver. Lots and lots of silver. But, considering there’re a lot of other things lurking in AU Atlanta that could give the shifters a run for their money, the unnatural strength makes a bit more sense.

I read this book ages ago, and rereading it was quite an experience. For one thing, I’d forgotten quite a few things that happen—including the false climax. I say “false climax;” I mean that what you think should be the final showdown isn’t. Not that one could really expect it to be, considering it happens in the middle of the book, and very few books have resolutions that double the book’s size. Still, I was a bit surprised when the Big Battle came and it turned out there were still loose ends.

Not to mention that I’d forgotten who the bad guy ended up being. I went through almost the whole book thinking that one particular character was the ultimate evil mastermind, and ended up being completely disappointed. Well, not quite disappointed, since I kind of liked that character, but I digress. I actually felt guilty for thinking this guy was a criminal. A very minor, cameo character also appeared, and I didn’t feel guilty at all for hating him; he turns out to be quite the little *euphemism deleted for wimpiness; insert appropriately angry term here* in the second book of the series. Again, I digress. Alas. Woe is me. Or… digression is me. Meh. Whatever.

Ilona Andrews became one of my favorite writers within the first five pages, the first time I read Magic Bites. Kate Daniels became one of my favorite fictional characters at the same time. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, or anyone who wants to read something for the heck of it.

Finally, I apologize for opening this review with a not-so-subtle vampire rant. I’m being saturated with vamps of all shapes and sizes at the moment, and most of those shapes are so-called “perfect.” It’s driving me nuts.

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