The Kate Daniels series is one of my favorites in urban fantasy so it's no secret that I've been salivating over Magic Strikes coming out on March 31st (and shaking my fist at Amazon's April 6th estimated arrival date. Luckily that turned out to be wrong). When I finally got the book I pretty much read it with glee.
Here's my reviews of the previous books:
Book 1: Magic Bites (goodreads review)
Book 2: Magic Burns
The basic premise is that the world goes through waves of technology followed by waves of magic, and everyone is used to this and just goes on with life. Kate Daniels lives in a futuristic Atlanta and is a mercenary with a hidden past who works part time for the Order (a group of people whose jurisdiction is magical incidents). Right now she's the Order's liaison with the local shapeshifter Pack, and has made various friends among them over the past couple of books.
****Spoilers for the earlier books at this point***
Magic Strikes starts off with Derek (a young wolf shapeshifter that Kate is close to) getting caught by Saiman trying to steal some tickets to an underground fighting event called the Midnight Games. This leads to more trouble for him, and Kate being who she is, rushes into the problem with sword in hand to help. She of course gets caught up in the young wolf's problems, while at the same time annoying Curran (the Beast Lord of Atlanta) who has been kept out of the loop.
My thoughts: OK I think my favorite parts have to do with the interaction between Kate and Curran. By the time you get to Magic Strikes, Curran has made it clear he's courting her, but Kate is unwilling to be involved with him. She's got a big secret about her identity and she's still convinced that Curran is just after her for the challenge. The dance between the two is amusing, and I'm not sure who is going to "win" the game because they've both made some bold and brassy declarations. Anyway, this is one of those relationships that span several books where you know they're supposed to get together and the question is when. I'm just having fun watching it, whatever they do.
Another thing I really enjoy about this series is the world building. There's always really well done writing in terms of description – I can read a paragraph or two in this book and my mind's eye easily conjures up the scene and everything going on in it. And there is always something interesting going on, I'm not bored or checking to see how many pages are left, I'm just reading. The series is refreshing in the use of some well-known supernatural creatures and turning them slightly on their head (like the idea of vampires being mindless, bloodthirsty beings that used to be human and are controlled by a group called The People), or using some not-so-well-known creatures and putting them into the story (like oni, frost giants, and rakshasas, to name a few). I'm also really fond of some of the side characters – they're all very interesting and likeable – Derek, Jim, Aunt B, Andrea, Julie, and Doolittle all make appearances, and we get introduced to a couple more (I really enjoyed the sort of geeky shapeshifter Dali).
Kate's an interesting character – intelligent and definitely falls under the "kick-ass heroine" title - she's got a magical sword, knows power words, and has a special heritage and an upbringing that made her a deadly fighter. Plus she has a smart-ass mouth to go with it. If you have something against this sort of character, you may not like this series, but if you read books 1 and 2 and liked them, I think you'll like this one too. I think there's a little bit of growth to her as the series goes along. In book 1 she's isolated but by book 3 she's surrounded herself with more people she cares about despite feeling like this makes her vulnerable.
Overall: A must read for people who read the earlier books and enjoyed them, especially if you enjoyed Kate and Curran's interactions because their relationship starts to heat up here. There are a couple small revelations about Kate's past and possible developments in a long running story arc regarding that past. A good installment – can't wait for book 4!
Review of Magic Strikes at Dear Author (it got an A-)
Bonus for those who have read this book – I recommend watching Sita Sings the Blues. Semi related I swear.