Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Ace; First Printing edition (April 1, 2008)
Cover of Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2)
The second book reads like a separate episode - while it does help to have some prior knowledge of the “Kate Daniels and magical Atlanta” universe, it may not be required to enjoy the second book. My review of the first installment you can find clicking here.
Kate lives in an alternate city of Atlanta, Georgia, in a world where magic comes and returns in waves with technology. She works now as a liaison between The Mercenary Guild and The Order of Merciful Aid, but at heart she is still as independent as she has always been. She is having a hard time finding a boyfriend and doesn’t play nice with others. Add to that two mortgages and some telephone bills and you get enough trouble on any super-heroine’s plate to get a headache. Still, there's more.
Someone's stealing valuable maps from the local pack of wereanimals (for the lack of better words) and Kate's got to get them back. Apart from that a misguided coven makes an alliance with the wrong Celtic God and Kate's stuck with that coven member's daughter, Julie. The girl comes with all the troubles teenage girls are prone to - she's a virgin and her boyfriend, a ragtag street kid-shaman called Red, craving for magic, wants to use her for a source of some extra power. Guess how. He also wants Kate to protect Julie and help her find her mother who, along with the rest of her aforementioned coven of amateur witches, has disappeared. Pinning and sniveling Julie wouldn’t be as powerful. This search will lead Kate to a hole in the earth through which magic creatures are arriving. If Kate can't stop their advance, the entire population of Atlanta will be at risk The romance fans will be undoubtedly thrilled by Kate's relationship with Curran which really starts getting interesting as a supernatural rival enters the battle.
What I liked:
Magic Burns is a tease and a page-turner for a sequel, I admit, peppered with furry, sticky violence.The world is intriguing and well researched, integrating Celtic mythologies and new facts about shapeshifters and vampires. Ilona Andrews managed to create beings and monsters almost impossible to imagine and yet she made them all work, and work well at that. It’s true that Kate is a bit of a mouthy adolescent superhero herself but most of the other characters have real emotions, ambitions, anxieties, and make real mistakes. In short they are believable. One thing I like about Kate the best - finally we have a mysterious orphan girl who actually knows her parents, knows what happened to them and what she is destined for, in other words she knows more than the readers. She imparts that knowledge but she is in no rush about it.
What about the others? Curran, Samian and Bran were wonderful characters with many witty comebacks. Also interesting is the bouda, a werehyena - now she's a nifty character I'd like to read more about. Finally the theory behind the Lycos Virus is a fascinating, painful thing.
What I didn’t like:
As the book plot delves deeper into mythology, magic, more mythology, witches, giant tortoises and other monsters it becomes too complicated and definitely out of the realm my brain can or want to comprehend reading a recreational novel. Some twists of storytelling go simply too fast, especially those mixed up with lots of overly graphic gore. There were simply too many battle scenes for my liking. Perhaps I am getting soft.
Secondly some parts of the story veer too close to trash territory. Kate's mortified when people see her underwear, and its adornments. Who would believe it? Who would want to know? She also has that strange pointless fight with different objects of her attraction – how very immature for a powerful magic slinger! She is definitely too obsessed by rippling muscles and sex. In my opinion the plot suffers for it.
The final verdict:
I still like the series but I hope it will improve. Less trash sword-wielding, more character building. We’ll see – I intend to read the book number three.