Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1), Illona Andrews

Title: Magic Bites
Author: Illona Andrews (author website)
Release Date: March 27, 2007
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star5 star

I had a pretty good idea of what to expect coming into Magic Bites: the typical urban fantasy in a slightly different version of our own world, tough heroine, and sexy alpha male to add a romantic twist. While, in some ways, I was right, I was wrong. Magic Bites is something different entirely.

From Goodreads:

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic...

One moment magic dominates, and cars stall and guns fail. The next, technology takes over and the defensive spells no longer protect your house from monsters. Here skyscrapers topple under onslaught of magic; werebears and werehyenas prowl through the ruined streets; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds. In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, she must choose to do nothing and remain safe or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy ...

Now, normally I'd write up my own summary of the book, but I'm just not sure how to manage. Magic Bites is complex and dark and, at times, confusing, if not deliberately cryptic. The book left me with a myriad of unanswered questions.

Real Urban Fantasy

I think the key thing here, is that Magic Bites is urban fantasy. Have you read any of those books with with swords and monsters and dragons, and worlds so foreign and vast you can only just begin to wrap your mind around them? For me, Magic Bites was this, in an modern, urban environment. The creatures that inhabit this place are different, and so are the humans. The paranormal beings that inhabit this world are darker, more complex, and complicated than what I've come to expect from this genre. The world's familiar, sure, but so very unlike our own. I had recurring impressions of a low-tech version of Blade Runner where instead of technology, magic has taken hold, and become the world's driving force. Instead of androids, we have shifters and other creatures we can't quite understand. The magic here is like... real magic, somehow. Dark, twisty, dangerous and sinister. Not evil, but a perversion of the current order--a sentient force stretching and reaching out in all directions, a beast gnawing away at the world we currently live in and recognise. Imagine if technology stopped working--cars, phones, televisions--and was replaced by an equally powerfully medium that you couldn't begin to understand, one that was slowly taking over and changing the way we live.

Kate Daniels:

In the middle of this world is Kate Daniels. An enigma. Equally as mysterious, strange, and well realised as the world she exists in, Kate's a freelance mercenary. Need someone found, killed, or captured? She's your lady...  but she's not just any lady. And I really don't know much more than that. The authors are playing their cards pretty close to their chest. Here's what I do know: the girl is a trained warrior. She's tough--really, really tough--and hard as nails. She has a problem with authority. And she's hiding something huge. In Magic Bites we learn she has very powerful magic running through her veins, one that she'll do anything to keep hidden, but we're not told what it is, why it's so important to hide that she must burn anything that holds a trace of her blood, or where it came from. We're given tantalising hints and elusive clues, but this doesn't mean it's unsatisfying.


Kate has a cast of fascinating, compelling men in her life, but she's not a flirt, and no, they're not all falling at her feet. In fact, let me say right here and now: Magic Bites is not a romance. In fact, there's little-to-no romance in it. There is definitely a very faint spark of something that could grow into a romance, but it's barely hinted at.

The Verdict:

Magic Bites is, well, incredible. I've never encountered an urban fantasy so dense and complex, and in such a detailed, real world. It's gritty, it's strange, and it's utterly compelling. So basically? Despite an alarmingly ugly cover, Magic Bites is awesome.

Books in This Series:

  1. Magic Bites

  2. Magic Burns

  3. Magic Strikes

  4. Magic Bleeds

  5. Magic Slays

Want It?

Get it from Book Depository
Get it from Amazon


  1. YAY! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one. It's a favorite UF Series of mine and the slow-burn romance between Curran and Kate is one of my all-time faves. While I wasn't a fan of the latest installment, I have no doubt this series is going to end as one of the best and I can't wait to see what you think of the sequels which are, IMO, even better than this start. Great review! :)


    So effing happy right now. You finally read it. I am so happy you liked it. Now, no worries, with each book more is revealed, a little more romance, and the world starts to really take shape, so you must read the next books to really get the full effect of the awesomeness that is Ilona.

    Kate is my favorite characters of all book history. And once you get to know Curran more, you are going to fall in love with these two.

    OMG, you are so lucky you are experiencing these books for the first time. I kinda wish I was starting this series anew so I could experience the amazingness I felt the first time with each book.

  3. Wow, my squeal went off the page, lol.

  4. So I decided to pop back because so not creepy and now see my comment from last week didn't post - the horror! Basically:

    Oh my gosh! You're first review in months! This makes me so happy! You've been busy becoming the best mum and occupied with all the things that follow but seeing you post really made my day. It's just...I've missed you so much and then TA-DA, a review pops up and dreams are made.

    Also, you wrote a review? You did? Oh, yeah! Sorry but I when I saw you were back (even just for a little while), I did a happy dance and forgot everything else... <3

  5. OK...so I've lost my marbles. This isn't your first review but your second! Something is majorly wrong because I have not been getting notified with your posts. This will not do! *follows in absolutely every way possible because I cannot miss any more of your posts because how unacceptable* I thought the comments were different to the what I thought I'd read previously - it all makes sense now... *hugs*

  6. I don't love the covers . They are so icky. That's the main reason I have not been interested in the novels . So vain of me right. I love real urban fantasy and often less PNR . Saz , your review and other glowing reviews by others really make want to pick this up . Tnx for the review

  7. Awesome review, Sarah! Ok, I have just deleted most of my comment. I was saying how I myself didn't really like this book, but I couldn't remember why as it's been years. So I looked up my old review - turns out I did like it! Which is odd, because the parts I remember make me think "meh". Perhaps I need a re-read, haha! Thanks for pointing it out to me! :)



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