I cannot remember the last time I binge-read a series in the way I am binge-reading the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews. I started with the first book a few weeks ago and as of now have read the first eight books and am only holding off reading the ninth book so that I won’t have to wait too long before the finale.
When I finished Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse last month, I felt the overwhelming need to read some more Urban Fantasy – but it is a genre I have been struggling with (sometimes – or actually quite often I find the love interest to be unbearable). I knew I wanted something with a female protagonist and a series that is quite advanced in case I wanted to keep reading. The Kate Daniels series fit the bill – plus it comes highly recommend by quite a few people whose tastes align with mine.
I sped through the series too much to be able to write proper reviews for the books, so here are my mini-reviews for the first five books.
Book 1: Magic Bites
I had a whole lot of fun reading this – it is not a perfect book but it made me want to keep reading – and I am chronically bad at continuing with series, so this in itself means something.
Kate is a brilliant protagonist and her inner monologue is the perfect combination of kickass and lonely. I love how strong she is and that she can kick ass while still staying human and vulnerable. I also love her snarky one-liners (what can I say, I am a huge Buffy fan). The world building is the biggest strength of this otherwise uneven book; the idea of technology and magic coming and going in waves just adds something to the genre that I never knew I needed. I love how the Andrews explored this new world and how you get the impression that there is so much more to discover. Curran is ok as well I guess – he is fairly stereotypical but at least he is not a total ass (my expectations for male love interests in UF are really low…). In general though, I prefer most of the side cast to him.
3 out of 5 stars
Book 2: Magic Burns
… And I am in love. This book was better than the first. Kate is still the best, her snarky one-liners are on point, but she also tries to just be a good person and I love that in books. She is not perfect but damn close to it and she is self-aware enough to know her limitations. I LOVE her evolving friendships with Derek and Andrea and I adore how she just takes on Julie. The world building is still impressive and I love how we are slowly told about Kate’s origins and what that might mean. Also, I am a huge fan of overpowered heroines, so the final showdown was right up my alley.
4 out of 5 stars
Book 3: Magic Strikes
This might be my favourite of the eight books I have read so far. The plot is perfectly done, the world building is awesome as ever, we see Kate not only kicking butt but also using what she has learned for her advantage (that smackdown she delivers on Jim was SO satisfying to read) and I think I am finally on board with Curran. The slow burn of their relationship really works for me and while I do think that he can be an ass, he at least tries. I still love Kate’s relationships with her friends more: Andrea is brilliant, Derek breaks my heart, and Raphael is way too funny.
4,5 out of 5 stars
Book 4: Magic Bleeds
Be still my shipper heart. I am so involved. The advantage of series is that you spend so much time with the people in it that you become so very involved – and the Andrews do this so very skillfully. Because I have already spent pages upon pages in Kate’s head, the first chapter broke my heart so thoroughly that I then just needed to keep reading until the very wee hours of the morning. While I am usually not that much of a fan of the angst that can come with relationship focused books, here I just lived for it. I did not quite recognize myself, but man, did I LOVE this reading experience.
I don’t think this book is quite as well constructed as the third one, and I do think those two idiots should have just used their words instead of assuming the worst of each other (to be fair, that is in line with their characterization and their backstory), I cannot remember the last time a book made me feel this many feelings. I don’t think I can be objective about this series anymore.
4,5 out of 5 stars
Book 5: Magic Slays
After the relationship rollercoaster that was the fourth book, this one feels closer in tone to the earlier books. Kate is back at kicking ass with her own private investigation firm, or she would be if any customers would appear. So she jumps at the chance to take a case from Rene (one of the Red Guards from book 3), even if she maybe bit of more than she can chew. I love how this book focusses on Kate’s friendship with Andrea, who might just be my favourite side character (or maybe Barabas is? I don’t know, I love the character cast a whole lot). Curran is a bit of an ass this book and I do not know how Kate deals with him. But then again, she does not have a point of reference with regards to what a normal relationship is.
The pacing here is a bit uneven, but I forgive this for the seriously amazing antagonists. They feel different to the antagonists in the earlier books in a way that I thought opened up the world building even more.
4 out of 5 stars