Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels)
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82 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Ilona Andrews has done a wonderful job of walking that fine line between tough, sassy heroine and ridiculous, overly powerful superwoman. Kate Daniels is a unique character in a genre that is largely populated with carbon copies of the same woman. Kudos to Andrews, who has once again managed to balance the qualities of power and vulnerability to perfection.

Magic Strikes doesn't pick right up where Magic Burns left off. Time has passed for Kate and Andrews didn't feel compelled to fill in every little detail that happened off-screen. But, events have again conspired to lure Kate into situations where her loyalty to friends and fears of her past come into conflict. That tension is part of what makes these books worth reading.

An underground gladiatorial games of sorts provides the backdrop for the story as new villains emerge and looming threats from previous novels begin to actually take shape. The reader is not required to have perfect recall of the previous books, but minimal familiarity will help.

What Andrews does best is to create tension. Whether it's between Kate and her value system or Kate and Curran, the local lycanthrope leader, it's intense. But there's enough humorous dialogue to relieve the tension and actually make you chuckle a bit. I particularly like that Kate remains vulnerable. Whether it's her feelings, or actual physical attacks, she knows that there are some fights she can't win and there are some fights that she is willing to lose. That sense of possible death is what separates Ilona Andrews from most of the other urban fantasists.

That, and the fact that she doesn't put Kate to bed with every gorgeous creature who enters the story. Another wonderful installment.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 23, 2009
This is currently my favorite Urban Fantasy series, having displaced Kim Harrsion's Hollows books after the lackluster last outing in that series. To some extent Andrews has followed Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden formula -- introduce the character, have a few introductory adventures to build the supporting cast and get a feel for the lead's capabilities and issues and then start to open up the series "meta plot" as the character faces wider issues.

Kate is a very appealing, snarky character who lives in an intriguing world where magic rises and falls in tides which have greatly disrupted (but not destroyed -- people cope) our civilization. Were-hyenas and vampires may roam Atlanta, but people still eat grits and cornbread. For reasons that are finally becoming more clear in this book, Kate has long been a loner, a mercenary who solves magical problems, but in the first book she started to come out of her shell, and that has continued over the next two books and into this one as she gains friends and allies.

In my opinion, the love interest is well handled as well. It's been obvious from book one what's going to happen, but Andrews is in no hurry, and has been content to keep Curran as (a very effective) supporting character rather than letting him drive out all the other supporting characters. This lets Kate have satisfying emotional connections apart from her supposed love interest (her final scene with Bran in the previous book for instance) and differentiates the series from "Supernatural Romance".

The ending of this book pretty much tears the veil off Kate's self-imposed low profile and sets things up for a major confrontation in the coming books.
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70 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2009
It's no surprise that I'm writing a review for this book. I've reviewed Ilona's books before and have always had good things to say about the writing and the plots. This time, I'll say it again... fantastic writing and a great plot.

What I like about book three is that we're seeing more of Kate and her relationships. Yes, there is action and intrigue but more importantly, there's a sense of Kate becoming more open to being entangled with the people around her. She fights for her place in others' lives here. People are important and she's as much a guardian of the people she's taken into her life as she is the nameless faces that she protects.

I prefer character-driven stories and Ilona Andrews delivers this type of story with a generous helping of cohesive plotline. Add into the mix, a conflicted world of magic and tech and you've got the recipe for a fantastical world that Kate Daniels lives in.

I'm not going to give out spoilers. I dislike reading reviews where the person spews out every last detail of the story but suffice it to say; Kate decides who is important to her in her life... and really, goes into action without much thought to her own safety. I enjoyed the tension in this story and the tightness of the writing was a delight to read. I could envision what was happening from the descriptions on the page and there are scenes that I could swear I could smell and taste the surroundings.

Brilliant writing and a fantastic step towards the main character's development.

Good book. I've gotten multiple copies just so I can give them to people I think would enjoy it. Pick it up. Spend an evening with Kate Daniels and submerge yourself into Ilona Andrews' Atlanta.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2009
_Magic Strikes_ by Ilona Andrews is the 3rd book in the Kate Daniels series (the previous two books are Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1) and Magic Burns). The main character in the series is Kate Daniels, a young woman who lives in an alternate version of Atlanta where magic and technology alternately have the upper hand.

The world created by Andrews is one that paralleled the real world until sometime in the 2000s, when magic returned to the world. Technology still fights back, and there are alternating waves of tech and magic. When the magic is up, firearms and internal combustion engines don't work, neither does electricity, and all the creatures of mythology like banshees and vampires and werewolves walk the earth. When the tech comes back up, all the normal conveniences work again and all the magical creatures are either reduced in power or turn back into normal humans.

In the middle of all this are the remnants of humanity who survived the first great surge of magic, and some of the various supernatural creatures who have organized enough to protect themselves. Vampires are inhuman senseless & mindless creatures controlled by necromancers who have formed a group called The People; they are led by a legendary figure named Roland. Werewolves, werejaguars, werehyenas, and were-everything-else either learn to live the Code which enforces the mental discipline they need to stay sane or they go violently nuts ('loup' in the books) and are hunted down like rabid animals; there is particularly large and well-organized group of were's in Atlanta who call themselves the Pack and they are led by Curran, a wereliger. And finally there is the Order, based on the old knightly orders, which tries to protect humanity from all the supernatural threats and who are themselves just as coldblooded as any of the threats they face.

In the middle of all this is Kate Daniels, all of 25 years old, a superb swordswoman with a mysterious past and a smart mouth that gets her into more trouble than even she deserves. She is not a Knight of the Order, but does work for them and currently serves as the official liaison between the Order and the Pack.

_Magic Strikes_ opens with Kate coming upon the remains of a murder scene involving a member of the Pack. The Pack having already claimed jurisdiction, she rides on but gets more and more embroiled as the book moves on. By halfway through the book, she is involved in highly illegal gladiatorial cage matches, fighting with powerful creatures from Hindu mythology, and frantically trying to figure out what power could prevent a werewolf from both changing and regenerating. She has to do all this while trying to avoid Curran, top alpha of the pack, who is wooing her (in his own straightforward yet confusing way) as a future mate and who is also more than a bit unhappy about members of the Pack being involved the cage matches.

Each Kate Daniels book has gotten better than the last (which I am thankful for, since _Magic Bites_ was way gorier and savage than I liked) and in this one the writing was superb. Hints about Kate's origins and parentage are finally fully revealed, and book 4 in the series promises to be stunning as Kate has finally come to the attention of some powerful players who can't let her live. The banter between Kate and her friends was VERY well done, as was the black humor found among those who are facing death on a daily basis. The romantic tension between Andrea and Raphael was hilarious as was the romance (or lack thereof) between Kate and Curran. Both Kate and Curran are have definite alpha personalities with a lot of prickly pride and stubborn independence and I have to commend Andrews for doing such an excellent job with a budding romance between two such personalities.

I almost quit reading the series after the first book, but I am very glad I stuck with it. And _Magic Strikes_ is interesting enough and fills in enough detail that it could probably be read on its own and still be a fascinating read.

Definitely five stars.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 31, 2009
Urban fantasy fans, rejoice! Ilona Andrews latest Kate Daniels story is kick a$$ from start to finish. This series has a bit of romance (so far without consummation, but still hot), a heaping helping of humor, more paranormal critters than you can shake a stick at, a heroine who's a trained killer with a conscience, and enough high drama and action for anybody. In other words, if you like fantasy, urban fantasy, etc...go get this series.

Kate's had a rough week. Waves of magic are wreaking havoc in Atlanta and she hasn't been able to go even half a day without some strange smelling blood fouling her clothes and shoes. The last thing she wants is a call from Saiman--a morphing creature who's developed the hots for her. But Saiman has caught her friend Derek breaking Pack law and Kate can't bear the thought of what Curran the Beast Lord would have to do to punish him. Not to mention Curran seems to be treating Kate like a potential Alpha mate...and she's not a were! The chain of events continues downhill and now Derek's barely alive, Kate's hiding from Curran, and it looks like the only way to save her friends will be for Kate to reveal herself to her nemesis.

I love this series. The stories aren't overly long or elaborate; yet they're as intricate and tightly woven as any reader could wish for. Each book reveals a few more tidbits about Kate's life, her past, and her possible futures. The action is non-stop yet it's not til the end of the book that you grasp the detailed sequence of events and decisions that have dovetailed into an exquisite finale. Yes, this story is finished, but there's no doubt that we still have further adventures with Kate to enjoy. For me, there's not enough stars for this series.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2009
You know the feeling you get when you've discovered a new and awesome series? Well, that's how you'll feel when you enter the paranormal world of Kate Daniels. Magic Strikes was just out of this world. Kate is back again in book 3. Her young friend Derek is on the brink of death, Curran, she discovers has been seriously courting her (without her knowledge or permission), and finally fans get a glimpse of Roland and his history. This new addition has everything the first two had: great humor and witty dialogue, action, great supporting characters and a little more insight to Kate's heritage to reel you in. There is some really good stuff in Magic Strikes if you've been following the series. It was wicked to discover how serious Curran, Beast Lord, has been wooing Kate, and readers are treated to a little action between the two, which is about time after all the sexual tension in the first two of the series. Another bonus is Andrews finally lets readers into Roland's world- not everything, but enough to keep her fans on their toes and anxious for more.

This is not the book to start with if you're new to the Magic series. While all of them are great, there are little references that you won't completely understand unless you've read them in order. But that's nothing to complain about because you'll WANT to read all three and in sequence. If you are totally into Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden Files, or Kim Harrison's Hollow Series, and you love Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson novels, then you have just found a new addition to your urban dark fantasy collection. So don't wait, get on the Kate Daniel's train.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2009
I'd had the previous books in my to read list for a very long time and finally got around to reading them last week in anticipation of this coming out. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed the first two and this one has become my favorite. The book was just right for a nice break in the middle of a very long week.

If I had to pick one thing about this book (and the series in general) that I like the most it would be the pacing. So many times you see sequels that drag the story on and feel like fluff. This is not the case here. There was just the right level of progression in both major plots I was interested in (Roland and Curran). I felt there was a good amount of movement while still keeping enough back to look forward to future books. Anything else would have felt too slow or too rushed.

I also really enjoyed the character development in the book. It was a nice balance to the action/plot progression. While a good chunk of the character development was insight into Kate, the other characters had some great development as well. I appreciated how the development of these characters didn't overwhelm Kate but added to the entire picture we get of her.

This book had the perfect balance of all the elements I was looking for. The only thing lacking is that I don't have the next book yet!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I read a lot of urban fantasy. I love the supers, the gritty cities, the strong women, and (in my favorites) the dry sense of humor. And though there are a ton of UF series out there, relatively few of them make it to the upper echelon for me. Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series sits comfortably in the #1 spot. I put Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, Book 2) down and it was all over. I've got the Mercy's Garage shirt proclaiming my ubergeek/fangirl status. Exactly a year ago I read the first two Kate Daniels books. I enjoyed Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1) just fine and Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2) even more. But I'm telling you this third volume is the one. I went in with very high expectations and still I was taken by surprise at just how good it was.

MAGIC STRIKES takes place four months after the events of Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2)s. For four months, Kate has been learning the ropes at her new job with the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid. For four months, she's been supporting Julie--the lost young girl she took under her wing--at a boarding school outside the city. And for four months, she's been doggedly avoiding the Pack and the powerful Beast Lord Curran, who seems to think she ought to come at his beck and call. Her efforts to cruise under the supernatural heavyweights' radar stall when her sometime client Saiman calls her claiming he's holding a werewolf who broke into his apartment. Kate has a soft spot for the young werewolf in question and, in order to spare him Curran's wrath, she agrees to do a favor for Saiman in return for Derek's quiet release. The favor turns out to be more than she bargained for as Saiman draws her into the turmoil that is the Midnight Games--an extremely private, extremely illegal paranormal fight club. When Derek ends up in a coma after infiltrating the games and Curran's chief of security simultaneously goes rogue, Kate gives up any pretence of disinterest and races against the clock to save her friends and exact revenge on Derek's attackers.

I continue to love the subtle humor in this series. By the third book I'm utterly invested in these characters and the complicated give and take of their relationships that so perfectly mirror the ebb and flow of magic and technology in Ilona Andrews' Atlanta. I love Kate's motivations in this installment. She's under my skin at this point and she absolutely rocks every page of this action-packed ride. She busts her butt all day long and into the night for days on end trying to manage the supernatural community at large, keep her gradually growing group of friends alive, and keep herself from attracting the attention of anyone too powerful or too in the know. Anyone who, when presented with the reality of who she is, would not be able to go on overlooking her. Meanwhile, she and Curran butt heads continually and, as they spar (physically and verbally), we are treated to a welcome glimpse into their individual pasts. I was hoping for some insight into Kate's history and we get even more than I hoped. (It's gripping, by the way)! But what I wasn't expecting was some revealing backstory on Curran's rise to power in the city and what makes his Furry Majesty tick. The best part, though, is how these insights lead them to treat each other with a bit more care. Sometimes this extra caution goes unvoiced as these two unbelievably strong people are not necessarily built to give up any ground at all. But it is nevertheless there. And it serves to bring the reader that much closer to them and their struggles. Also, the fighting at the Midnight Games was awesome. Freaking awesome. This story built up to an incredible climax and I was riveted the entire time. Really. If you haven't given this series a shot yet, run out and get them now. This is urban fantasy at its most entertaining, at its very best. MAGIC STRIKES knocked my socks off.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Hands down, Magic Strikes is my favorite of the first three books in the Kate Daniels series. While maintaining a level of excellence in both originality and execution of the plot, a standard for this series, this story is sleeker and more streamlined than the first two, to positive effects. Where the first two books had complexity almost to the point of convolution, the plot of Magic Strikes is cleaner, perhaps a bit simpler, but definitely far more personal to Kate and her friends. As a result, the connection between the plot and characters achieves a level of cogency previously unrealized.

A few months after the events of Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2), Kate is still working the liaison job between the Merc Guild and the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aide when a phone call from Saiman drops her into a mess that's a bit outside her pay grade. Derek, the boy wonder shapeshifter and Kate's erstwhile protector, had tried to break into Saiman's condo to steal two tickets to an underground fighting bout that Pack are supposed to be banned from. For Derek to do so, to risk Pack law and the Beast Lord's wrath, something very serious is going on, but despite helping Derek out of the cage Saiman stuck him in by bargaining with the sex-focused body changer, Derek remains mum about his issues, and only asks that Kate, when accompanying Saiman to the fights as part of their deal, slip a note to one of the females on one of the fighting teams. Much like the shot heard round the world, that one note sets off a sequence of cataclysmic events that throw Kate into direct opposition of Curran's laws with Derek's life hanging precariously in the balance.

Magic Strikes is a totally kick ass book from start to finish, and the overly-described scenes that tended to bog down the pace of the first two books to varying degrees are blessedly absent in this one. I love the solid continuity of even the minutest detail (blue panties with a bow, for example) that Ilona Andrews brings to this entire series, and the way that these characters develop and their lives intertwine as the stories unfold is fantastic and very satisfying for me as a reader. It builds a solid foundation of belief in these characters and the world they inhabit. In Magic Strikes, the conflict is very personal for Kate, and it shows in the increased intensity of her aggressions and her willingness to put everything on the line. Combine all of that with the fact that I've also always been a huge fan of Derek's and every facet of this book really worked for me.

I'm totally enamored with the slow, yet steady, methodical progression that's being made with issues and relationships over the series arc. What little mystery that is left of Kate's issue with her blood is addressed, though there was little surprise left by the time of the big reveal. The consequences of it, however, and the doors those consequences open for future development were shocking and the scenes surrounding it ultimately satisfying. Kate's growing cadre of friends, however reluctant she is to amass them, continues to ground her and humanize her, and along with her own mordant sense of humor, provide quite a bit of comic relief in this dark, cruel world (the scene with Jim after the first fight was funny enough to make me laugh out loud).

Now, let me pause for a moment and reflect on the ubergoodness that is the Kate/Curran relationship. Oh. My. God. I swear, I could eat them up with a spoon. The tension and slow (water-torture slow) development between those two is going to make me chew my nails down to the quick, but I love every single damn minute of it. It's quite possibly the most frustrating and most amazing relationship I've read in fiction recently, and I have nothing but respect for Andrews (husband-and-wife writing duo Ilona and Gordon) for addressing...in sometimes gut clenching ways...the complexities and pathos of two such individuals reaching for something that could be amazing, despite the risks inherent. Sometimes I want to drop a house on Kate and get her to wake up a little, but in truth, I sympathize with this solitary, tragic woman who has lived a life with burdens no normal human...or even the King of Beasts...could truly comprehend.

Kate is still one of, if not the top female heroine in any of the many, many UF and paranormal romance series I read. The steel spine, deadly habits, and dedication to honesty and honor surrounding that tiny grain of woman who desperately wants to be loved is a supremely appealing combination and I can not wait to see what she gets thrown into...or what gets thrown at her...next. Absolutely fabulous book, and series, that I highly recommend.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 26, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
Every gut reaction Kate has tells her to read the note Derek, her young werewolf buddy, wants her to pass to the girl at the Midnight Games, but a promise is a promise and Kate doesn't read the note. Well, that turned out to be a big mistake. Because Kate kept her word, Derek is slowly dying and she finds herself having flashbacks of memories of previous times she has found herself on the sand floor of a gladiator arena. The kind of place where only one person can walk away because the other is dead.

OPINION:
Once again Ilona Andrews has written a story in the Kate Daniels series which surpasses the previous books. I didn't think these stories could get much better but this one proves I was wrong. "Magic Strikes" moves the relationship between Curran, Beast Lord of Atlanta, and Kate Daniels, mercenary, forward by huge leaps. This story also reveals what Saiman is really like under all that shape changing he loves to do. (Saiman is fond of saying that he isn't a [...], he is a sexual deviant. And he thinks that's a compliment!) Derek, Jim, Andrea, Raphael, Dr. Doolittle and Julie are all back and very involved in this exciting, action filled segment in the "magic" series. We also meet Dali, a new character who was very sweet and engaging. The fact that her beast form is a tiger, but her food preference is vegetarian is just one indicator of the wonderful touches of humor which abound throughout this entire series. Yes, there is a large amount of violence in this book, in this entire series, but the touches of wry humor, laugh out loud funny quips, and emotional connections between characters keep the books from becoming oppressive. And the bad guys are all examples of this authors fertile imagination and make you use your own imagination to call them up in your minds eye so you can see how they are killed. Very, very innovative writing on the part of Ms Andrews.

Another point I would like to make is that Ms Andrews is one of the best authors I've read with her ability to incorporate all aspects of the previous books in this series into book three without making you feel as if it is all redundant. All of the back story is covered so well that this book could be easily read as a stand alone book. Of course, if you chose to go that route just make sure you have the first two books handy because you will immediately want to dig into them.

RECOMMENDATION:
I'm beginning to think that I would recommend reading a grocery list if it was written by Ilona Andrews. This is my third Kate Daniels book. I cannot recommend this series highly enough to anyone interested in the urban fantasy/paranormal/action genres. I see there is a blurb in the back of "Magic Strikes" regarding a new series, (On the Edge (The Edge, Book 1)) beginning next month from Ms Andrews. Believe me, that one has been on pre order for me from Amazon for a long time. While you're waiting for it, read this one.
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