Magic Bleeds ~ Ilona Andrews

  • Title: Magic Bleeds
  • Author: Ilona Andrews
  • Series: Kate Daniels #4
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  Kate Daniels keeps the peace in Atlanta for the Order, humans caught between the vampire controlling People led by her biological father and best kept secret, Roland, and the shape-shifter Pack, led by her mate-to-be Curran, the Lord of the Beasts. But her look-alike aunt Erra, Babylon’s god of chaos and terror, has come to town controlling seven naked warriors: Deluge (flood water), Tremor (earth quake), Gale (hurricane wind), Torch (fire inferno), Venom (disease poison), Beast (animal monster), and Darkness (overpowering dread).

Review:  I tried this series several years ago, when the first novel, Magic Bites, came out, and I didn’t like it much. I know that many of my friends adore this series and its protagonist, Kate Daniels, so I decided to try it again when I came upon this book on my library shelf. I still don’t like it much, although I have to give the authors their due: the plot construction is masterful, the world-building superb, the action fast and furious, and the tension almost unbearably high from the first page on. Danger, blood, and pain, personified in multiple internal and external clashes, crowd the heroine on all sides. No breather is allowed, and she is injured for most of the story. And that is my first objection: the tale is too dark and gritty for me.    

Kate starts the novel as an agent of a peace-maintaining agency, the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, in Atlanta. The world she lives in is repeatedly hit by waves of magic, so technology is unreliable, and most of the infrastructure of our civilization has collapsed years ago. Into that world comes a mysterious villain of mythical proportions, ‘a tall man in a cloak’, to wreak death and chaos, and Kate is called on the scene in her official capacity: to investigate the bad guy. From this moment, the action rolls forward with the speed and inevitability of an armored train. No stopping the monster, except with a nuke… or a fictional equivalent of one – Kate.

Adding to this Kate’s conundrum in the heart department – her intermittent love-him-hate-him with her paramour, Curran, the leader of the local shape-shifters – plus her dispute-riddled relationships with other local non-humans, and we have a recipe for a potent brew of a story, studded with conflict and punctuated with sword and magic battles. Most lovers of urban fantasy must love it. As I’m not a big fan of the subgenre, it leaves me torn.      

My second objection is a personal one: I dislike Kate. She is too confrontational and too sure that most problems can be solved with a punch or a sword. In a word, she is too kick-ass, and I disagree with this quality in anyone, male or female. I admire people who think before (or instead of) swinging a blade or driving a fist into your teeth. I like intellectuals, smart guys and girls who can understand and negotiate, and Kate is as far from them as the moon is from earth.   

Deep inside, she seems kind and compassionate, but on the surface, she is rough and relentless: a highly-trained female thug with a proverbial heart of gold. I don’t believe it. In my experience, after a while being a thug, thugs become inured to the others’ suffering; they don’t notice it anymore, and their compassion turns academic, in theory only. That’s what I see in Kate: her kick-ass personality dominating her life, personally and professionally, while her ability to think and compromise and persuade is almost atrophied.

Although I’ve never wanted to deal with such a person, especially with such a woman, in life, I understand the attraction my friends feel to her in fiction. Kate is simple, a black-and-white persona. For her, the universe is divided to friends and else, and she is firmly on the side of her friends. And I want to be in her camp too. I don’t ever want to be her enemy. I guess this powerful novel affected me emotionally after all, despite my intellectual drive to reject it. I cared for Kate while I read. I might try the next novel, although I don’t think I will read this series back to the beginning.

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