Book Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic BitesMagic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of Kate Daniels

Publisher: Ace (April 1, 2007)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hooray! From now on, whenever someone asks me if I have read any Ilona Andrews, no longer do I have to look down shame-facedly at my shoes and admit, “No, but I’ve been meaning to for the longest time, I swear!”

Of course, when it comes to the authors’ books and the question of where to start, for me it had to be the quintessential Kate Daniels series. In a world where technology has progressed too much and too fast, the volatile forces of magic have struck back with a vengeance. While magic feeds on technology, everything is unpredictable – machinery, vehicles or electrically powered objects can fail at any time, making it a pretty screwed up world of ruined streets lined with shells of crumbling skyscrapers.

And that’s not all. The way it works, magic rises and falls with no warning, and when the precarious balance between the magical and the technological is thrown out of whack, weird things happen – peculiar magical effects and paranormal monsters wreaking havoc on the world, and what have you. In the middle of it all, a tenacious and headstrong mercenary makes her living attempting to clean up all the resulting messes of this magical apocalypse. Kate’s just another human with a bit of magic blood in her, trying to make ends meet in this crazy messed up milieu, while dodging vampires, shapeshifters, and other nasties. But when her guardian is brutally murdered, Kate’s making it her personal mission to hunt down the one responsible.

So, wow, great setting and premise for an urban fantasy, amirite? But I do have a confession to make. I honestly couldn’t make heads or tails of this world from the explanation provided by the book as I was reading. Afterwards, I had to cheat and had to look up on wikis and other reviews to understand how the whole magic vs. technology process actually worked because what I was given didn’t feel like it was enough at all. Did that take away from my enjoyment of the story? Not really. Technically, you don’t need to understand how and why everything in this world is the way it is, but in some ways, I felt like I was thrown into the middle of a movie that had already started. I got by okay, but if you don’t like feeling like that, then this first book might be a struggle.

As for the main character herself, I liked her. Kate Daniels is smart, resourceful, a bit of a wisecracker and comes in at a hundred percent on the kickass meter – admittedly, much like a lot of other female protagonists in the urban fantasy genre. There’s really not much else I can say, but that’s not really a negative. While I can’t pin down anything that would make her stand out in particular from the rest, archetypal UF characters like Kate are what make this genre great and so fun to read.

I think I approach urban fantasy as a whole with a similar attitude. Arguably, there are a handful of requisite tropes in this genre that will probably never go out of style, and you know what? I wouldn’t want it any other way. These days, I’m happy enough diving into a good UF, and if it happens to do something wildly different and amazing, that’s just gravy. Magic Bites probably isn’t exceptional when it comes to characters and its light-on-plot story, but it does have a pretty cool setting (if only it was explained better).

Regardless, I love tackling books like this especially after a string of heavier reads, because sometimes you just want to sit back and relax with a light, entertaining read, and I have to say it filled that need perfectly. To be honest, you really can’t screw up with me when it comes to this genre, unless you’re doing something terribly, terribly wrong – and I didn’t doubt for second that a series like Kate Daniels, which has been going strong for so many years, would have garnered so many fans if it hadn’t been delivering the right stuff.

So yep, you’ll see me continuing on with this series for sure.

4 stars

15 Comments on “Book Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews”

  1. Yay! I’m so happy to see you read the first book and enjoyed it. I love this series and you’ll see each book is better than the last one. So many wonderful characters there! You’ll love them all!!!! I would love to discover the series from beginning once again! I don’t understand why the sell were than bad in France they stopped the books. it’s sad.

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    • Oh I’m sorry to hear that! They stopped translating them or the French publisher stopped pubbing them or what? Hard to believe, since the books seem to do so well.

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  2. I havent read her either! But I do see this series mentioned again and again. I know what you mean about urban fantasy and being comforted by a familiar style. I think that’s why it’s so popular.

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  3. *Happy dance* It begins!!! I’m so pleased that you’ve jumped into this series, Mogsy. Personally I think the secondary characters are what really make Kate Daniels shine (Jim, Andrea, and Doolittle are personal favourites). As with every UF series ever, it only gets better with time. I feel like it’s easier to forgive some confusing world building in book one when you take a look at how teeny tiny it is. Magic Bites is quite literally a pocket book, haha. So glad that you’re now on board the Kate Daniels fan train!

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    • Yep, it begins! Next stop, Kim Harrison and Faith Hunter and book #1s of their respective Hollows and Jane Yellowrock series! Between these three authors I’m going to have a lot of UF catching up to do, haha.

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    • I realized last week my UF reading had gone down in the last couple of months, no wonder I was felt like going a bit nuts! I usually keep some shorter, lighter YA or UF reads in reserve to slot in between my heavier, tomey reads 🙂

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  4. I loved Kate and absolutely found myself smitten by the world. But this book suffered from a severe lack of coherent plot. The villain was a complete idiot.

    I liked it enough that I will probably grab the next one at some point though.

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  5. LOL to From now on, whenever someone asks me if I have read any Ilona Andrews, no longer do I have to look down shame-facedly at my shoes and admit, “No, but I’ve been meaning to for the longest time, I swear!”. It’s always awkward to admit that you haven’t read a very popular book when everyone else has already read it.

    I’ve been hearing a lo of good things about the said series but I am not sure if I’m going to jump into the bandwagon. Good to know that you were amazed by this one. Shame that the magic system and the techno processes weren’t fully explained. High five to reading wikis and other reviews just to understand the thing. Those are also my approach whenever I am at a loss. The strategy is even more helpful whenever I am reading a very heavy book and my brain already ceased working.

    And your first sentence on your last paragraph, I totally agree. But I always resort to MG and contemporary reads when my brain is already exhausted from reading complex books.

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    • My go-to reads for when I need a break are YA and UF, though I’d love to do more MG if I knew of more titles! Having some lighter reads on hand to break up my longer, heavier reads helps keep me sane 🙂

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  6. This is a favorite series of mine. I confess I don’t really remember the first one, but I have read them all as they come out. I hope you will continue with them–and that you’ll like them!

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