A review by chantaal
Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews

adventurous dark mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Okay, so. Wow?! I'm genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this. I truly did not remember a single thing about this despite having read it 8 years ago, and I'm happy to say this is a very solid opening for an urban fantasy series, and I can see why Kate Daniels is so popular. 

In this world, magic ebbs and flows. When it's up, there's magic and no technology. When it's down, there's technology but no magic. There are all sorts of supernatural creatures, and the focus in this one is mainly on shifters (all types of animals) and vampires. Ilona Andrews have come up with a creative world here, playing on some urban fantasy tropes in fun ways. Kate Daniels is a magic user in this world, a mercenary for hire, and she is drawn into a murder mystery when her mentor and guardian is killed. 

I can see why 2014 me was bugged by Kate Daniels and her badassery. It felt very much like she was being written as a Strong Female Character, but I can see now that there's a bit more nuance to her characterization. She's hard and sarcastic and keeps people at arms length because of trauma in her past and how she was raised (which we don't know the specifics of yet), and we get enough tidbits to show that. I understood her a lot more this time around, and I found myself way more sympathetic to her and I liked her a LOT. 

I assume Curran is going to be the long term slow burn romance here, judging by the fact that every single cover in this series has a lion on it, and he's a lion shifter. I liked how much he and Kate butted heads, but also still had a mutual respect for each other in the end without sacrificing their sniping and chemistry. He's alpha without being so over the top as many other paranormal romances write alpha males (*coughNaliniSinghcough*), and I like him and Kate together so far. 

The reveal of the killer didn't quite work for me, nor did most of the actual detective work or mystery solving, but I didn't mind that. The mystery served more as a vehicle to introduce us to the world at large, and I enjoyed that aspect of it.

Hopefully on to book 2 soon, the audiobook narrator is great and I'd like my library copy to be available NOW please!!