Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Magic Breaks

The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews is one of my favorites. The first post I wrote over on The Book Pile was a love letter to this series. The action, characters, humor, worldbuilding and overall sense of hope keep me coming back. It's a series I've re-read when life decided to sucker punch me. MAGIC BREAKS releases next Tuesday and I'm happy to say that it was a thrilling ride. Today I have a review and also a couple of drinks in my other post to celebrate the latest adventures of Kate and her merry band.

Kate makes the leap to hardcover in her 7th outing. Longtime fans of the series know that the original plan was to have Kate's story complete in 7 books. Given the popularity of the series, that number has been extended to 9 with a second Jim and Dali novella (see here for the official list). I can say, though that the character arc begun in book 1 does come to a conclusion in book 7.

Note: I'm going to try to remain as non-spoilery as possible, but this is a book 7, if you are new to the series, stop reading now and catch up!

When we last left Kate, she and the Pack narrowly evaded a trap set by Hugh D'Ambray, Roland's warlord, but not without a high cost. Kate's still haunted by Aunt B's death and she dreads the inevitable confrontation with her father. She's been practicing, but she knows she is not ready to face Roland and win.

MAGIC BREAKS opens with Curran called away to a hunt on a bordering pack's lands, leaving Kate to face the monthly meeting with the People in the interest of continuing their uneasy truce. Of course, nothing can be easy, so when Hugh shows up in the meeting with a dead body and the ultimatum for the Pack to hand over the guilty party, the book is literally off and running through a magic-ravaged Atlanta.

Tons of action, some really great moments with Curran, we get to spend time with Robert, the alpha of Clan Rat, and Ghastek, and finally, after 7 books, we get to meet Roland. Folks angry with Curran in the last book should be happy here. With Robert we get an insiders look at Pack leadership and the "preserve the greater good by sometimes sacrificing a few" viewpoint. He also kicks ass, so smart and strong. Ghastek has been a feature since book 1, but this time we get to know more of his backstory. I've always had a soft spot for Ghastek, he is not perfect or even a total "good guy", but he's the right mix of evil that can be reasoned with. We also find out what happened to Ted and Nick. I admit, I wasn't fully thrilled with that resolution, but you can't have everything you want. I am hoping we see more of Nick later.

Now to Roland, who deserves more that a paragraph, but I promised not to be too spoilery. We've had hints for awhile now that the information Kate had been fed to her by Voron, Roland's former warlord, was not 100% accurate. He managed to snag all of the negatives, but how many people, especially beings thousands of years old with godlike powers, are only going to be pure evil with no redeeming qualities? As we saw with Hugh, a character who does horrible things but is also enigmatic and alluring, there is a reason people flocked to Roland's side, just as there is a reason Kate's mother fell in love with him.

However, for all that we get to finally meet "the biggest bad of all," this series, at least for me, has not been about Kate finally meeting her father. Sure, in book 1, on the surface, it was about a solitary mercenary hiding in plain sight as she grew strong enough to take down her father. Yet, as we progressed from book to book, as Kate gained friends and a family it became more of her overcoming her frankly horrible childhood. Kate didn't grow into adulthood, she survived. Voron wanted to create a weapon and constantly drilled into her that loved ones were a weakness, that her whole purpose was to fight her father. With each book, Kate eroded that influence. She made friends, adopted a child, found love, became a leader, and yes, she would lay her life down for any of her people. For some that is a weakness. For someone packing the power she has, a need to preserve life keeps her away from madness and gives her a reason to win. In book 1, winning meant spilling the blood of your enemies. Since then, Kate's learned that there are different ways of succeeding, and watching her come full circle was a big payoff.

I know this is one I'll re-read, and I'll be there for the next Kate adventure.

MAGIC BREAKS out July 29  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

Ilona Andrews

[received a review copy]
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