Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites  - Renée Raudman, Ilona Andrews

Re-read January 2014: Just as fantastic as I remember. Thoughts on the audiobook at the end of the review.

Original Review: Kate Daniels is a mercenary for the Guild. She’s having a bit of trouble making ends meet when she gets a visit suggesting that she get in contact with her guardian. But when she tries she gets stonewalled. And then she finds out he’s dead, killed by an apparently unknown magical being. 

Now Kate’s on the job, searching for the answers, which brings her into contact with some of the most powerful beings in Atlanta. She’ll travel from the heart of the vampire’s power, the People’s Casino, to the shapeshifter’s Keep, ruled by the Beast Lord and everywhere in between.

I read this book quite a while ago, finally, at the insistence of one of my best friends – who had been recommending the series to me for over a year! What on earth took me so long? I’m doing this review now because I just got done listening to the audiobook and wanted to comment on both.

First, I absolutely love Kate. Not only does she kick ass and have a smart mouth, but because when she does talk, she can back it up – unless she’s trying to aggravate Curran of course. She’s not perfect, she makes mistakes, she has flaws! Sometimes she even makes rash decisions. And this is probably one of my favorite things about her – when she does any of the above, it doesn’t always turn out the way she wants and sometimes she has to accept the consequences of her actions. I’ll say it again, because I think it’s something that’s missing in a lot of urban fantasy I read – Kate’s (and truly all the characters) actions have consequences and they don’t just go away, they have to be dealt with. And it’s not always easy. Another thing to love about Kate is that she has a personal code of conduct, and she sticks to it. Honestly, there’s not one thing I didn’t love about Kate. Impressive, considering how difficult it is to make me truly like a heroine.

Now, I’ve spent all this time talking about Kate and haven’t mentioned a single other character. And there are so many wonderful characters to mention. Curran, I can’t even describe how much I love Curran, the Beast Lord of Atlanta. Strong, sexy, dominating, fierce. He’s arrogant and eminently sure of himself – with good cause. I was immediately enamored of him. 

Honestly, I can’t do justice to all the well-developed characters in this book, so I’ll just say that all of them are fully three-dimensional and intriguing.

Magic Bites moves at a very quick pace, with lots of action set in a fabulously complex, detailed world. The world is a character all itself. I love the idea of the magic and tech asserting themselves at ever-changing intervals and the effects that has on our protagonist. The world building was flawlessly integrated into the story, and I never got hopelessly lost in it, though I was completely immersed. 

I highly recommend this series if you haven’t started it already. Magic Bites a rocket-fast story, set in a vivid, ever-changing world with characters that fairly jump off the page and make you beg for more.

Strictly regarding the Audiobook
Read by Renée Raudman. I've listened to this several times now, and I still have the same issues that I've always had with the narration. I just did not enjoy this as much as I thought I would. Ms. Raudman made Kate sound weak and stupid – neither of which I associate with her, obviously. Add to that all the times that I felt she got the inflection of speech or thought wrong, completely changing the meaning or tone of what they were saying and it about drove me insane. Still, even that couldn't totally detract from the beauty of the story. It hasn't stopped me from listening to the rest of the stories - but I do think if you're listening and never read them first, you get a different idea of Kate and the other characters than you would if you read it. 

I can't give this less than 5 stars, because I love the world, story and characters that much...but if I were to grade simply the narration in the audiobook it would get closer to 3 stars.