Get ready for a 3-pack of Ilona Andrews reviews, folks!
Okay, finally made it back to the beginning of the series, and it’s great. Kate meets Curran the Beast Lord, and all the right sparks fly. Kate also meets Derek before his “christening by fire” later in the series, and he is a young smart-alecky teenaged werewolf with a quick wit, sharp insights and an appealing personality. Kate is still a mercenary and a loner, who nonetheless builds the special relationship to both the Order and the Pack in the course of this book which gives her world the complexity and depth which makes the series so successful. And we also get a first-hand look inside the necromancers’ Casino and at its leader, and it is just as disgusting and fascinating as I thought it would be.
What is especially delightful about Magic Bites is not only that the stage is set for everything to come and we meet all the major players right from the get-go, but there are two, repeat TWO, climaxes to the plotline, which left me gasping for breath at the sheer scope of the authors’ vision. Sadly, we don’t get to meet Kate’s guardian Greg, except in Kate’s memory, but we do get to experience a pre-Curran romance between Kate and a certain someone who Kate is just too sharp-edged and paranoid to appreciate. And that edginess doesn’t wear off anytime soon, as followers of the series know only too well.
Having gone backwards in this series, I would strongly recommend that people interested in the urban fantasy genre in general, and Andrews’ writing in particular, would do well to start at the beginning, as the stories –and characters–do definitely build on one another. Once you start, you will want to race through them all, but savor them because they are as spine-tingling as they are funny, as gory as they are romantic.
This is the fourth in the series (I wasn’t kidding when I told you I jumped around, based on availability. I won’t be doing that again!) Kate is still a mercenary but has special status with the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid. She won’t work outright for the Order, as their rigid authoritarianism and their anti-shapeshifter prejudices rub her the wrong way, but in deference to her Guardian and her need for an income to stave off homelessness, she accepts their jobs.
And this one is a doozy. Someone with a great deal of magic power is wielding the magical equivalent of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse against primarily shapeshifters, and they are dying in truly horrible ways. Tracking down the killers is terrifying and dangerous enough, but ultimately, she’s going to need to face whoever is pulling the strings, and that someone is going to know Kate for who she is, despite the years spent hiding her identity.
Kate’s relationship with Curran at this point is extremely complex, a love-hate thing that nearly gave me whiplash. Kate loses one “pet,” but gains another that is a very smelly, very funny and very lethal addition to the cast of characters. The climax is a doozy, and it is here where we truly learn what Kate is capable of, a confrontation that teaches us the true meaning of sacrifice.
We are back to the Edge here, with this great follow-up to the first in the series, On The Edge, which I read but apparently forgot to review. Bayou Moon is the ultimate fantasy rendition of the Hatfields and the MCoys, two families who live in the dangerous Mire swamplands of the Edge and who will not stop until one clan has exterminated the other. Into this drama comes William, an exiled “changeling” from the Weird who has his orders from a Weird spymaster to penetrate the Mire in search of a special artifact and a certain villain who mustn’t get there first. William’s years’-long solitary existence is about to be upended by Cerise, the de facto head of one of the two feuding families who is searching for her missing parents and who becomes William’s reluctant guide into the Mire.
Andrews does a tremendous job painting the Mire for us in great detail, and one can almost smell the mud, the rotting leaves and the dark waters as William and Cerise travel through it. Fantastical new characters abound in this book, ranging from rolpies, ervaurgs and mud eels, to moon people and engineered mutant assassins. Cerise and William are both as stubborn and hardnosed as they come, but their love grows satisfyingly throughout the book. [Come on, that wasn’t a spoiler. You all guessed it, and you didn’t even have to read the book!]
Our old friends Rose and Declan, George and Jack from On the Edge make an appearance in Bayou Moon, and it’s nice to see how things worked out for them. By the time Bayou Moon is finished, we are hoping that William and Cerise can find the same peace and calm, but a certain villain promises to surface in another Edge novel down the road and, when he does, William and Cerise will not be far behind.