Friday, September 08, 2017

Magic Strikes - Ilona Andrews

Magic Strikes
A Kate Daniels Novel
Ilona Andrews
Ace Books

Urban Fantasy/Dark Fantasy

Note:  If you haven’t read the first two books in this series (MAGIC BITES, MAGIC BURNS) this review contains unavoidable spoilers.

It’s been a rough few weeks for Kate Daniels.  She lives in Atlanta and works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, a sort of supernatural rescue service.  This includes her current job, trying to talk a septuagenarian banshee down off of a public utility pole.  It’s after midnight by the time she gets home, but the day is not done.  She gets a call from Saiman, an unusually strong (and well-informed) magic user.  It seems that he has an unwanted guest in his apartment.  It’s Derek, a young werewolf, and Kate’s sometime sidekick.  Derek made the potentially fatal mistake of breaking into Saiman’s place, and Saiman would like Kate to retrieve him.  

Arriving at Saiman’s Kate learns that Derek broke in, looking for invitations to something called the Midnight Games, a sort of supernatural gladiator tournament.  The Games are illegal, but still extremely popular.  Saiman agrees to release Derek as long as Kate accompanies him to the Games.  He’d like her to use her expertise to check out a team called the Reapers.  He’s not sure what they are, exactly, or where they live, and that bothers him.  Once he’s free, Derek confesses to Kate that he wanted to get into the Games to get a message to a girl who works with the Reapers.  Two birds, one stone?  Maybe.  But Kate should know it can’t be that easy.

As usual, the author goes a great job of setting the scene.  The Midnight Games, the venue, the attendees and fighters, all leap off the page.  This installment does something a bit different, though, in that a later plot point is the near-deadly beating of one of the characters we’ve known since the first book.  The fate of this character is not certain, and drives the second half of the action.  That second half contains some great scenes as Kate continues to investigate the Reapers, and is forced to participate in the Games.  This brings up some pretty horrific memories for her; and also reveals some interesting facts about her friends.

This time around, we get to delve a little deeper into the underside of the magical world.  The Midnight Games were outlawed after a huge and dangerous participant went rogue.  Apparently, casualties outside the arena are not nearly as entertaining.  The Pack leader has forbidden his shifters from taking part in the games at all.  So, the organizers simply import shifter fighters.  It’s all very cold and calculated and based on a thirst for violence and the huge amounts of money to be made betting.  It’s probably cynical, but, to me, this whole enterprise showed that humans are more like the shifter and vampires and whatnot than we are different.

Rating: 8
April 2009

ISBN# 978-0-441-01702-7  (paperback)


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