I read this book for the first time a little over 3 years ago, and man, I fell in love so fast. I had already immensely enjoyed this husband-and-wife team’s (then-new) book On the Edge, and was very excited to start this longer staple in urban fantasy.
3 years later – I still love it! Looking at it with a more critical eye, I felt that the start of the book was kind of slow, and there were a fair amount of things introduced that had a planned reveal, but my initial worries about the pacing were unnecessary. Magic Bites read as if I was walking through the story, like a play unfolding one scene at a time. It didn’t take very long for me to understand what was going on, and by the time the last big show-down happened, I had genuine concern and cared about each of the characters in the book.
Kate is an awesome protagonist. She’s not vain or immature, not a ‘chosen one’, but also not like “WHY DOES THIS SHIT KEEP HAPPENING TO ME UUUUUGGGGHHHH.” She takes the punches and rolls with them, and I really admire her for not losing that stride at any point. She’s got values that she sticks to, and manages to stand out and surprise even the readers with her wit and quick thinking. Curran himself is one of those rare male leads who doesn’t think with his dick, or gets upset because Kate has freaky abilities, or is completely dictated by his Alpha Male Status. He’s a person, and it’s refreshing as hell. I love that he gets jealous and pissy, how he cares about everyone in his Pack, his precision and planning, and maybe he does things without thinking them through completely (see: every interaction with Kate), but it’s not to flex his muscles and make women swoon. It’s who he is. I think we could really use more male characters like this who aren’t “I’m big and intimidating, but I also have a tragic backstory that defines all of my actions,” and instead write <i>semi-relatable people</i> for a change. I will admit that Curran is definitely not the best of the best when it comes to writing good male leads in UF or PR, but I would go out of my way to choose him over some of the other guys in lit I’ve seen.
This book for sure isn’t perfect, and it’s got the rough-around-the-edges start that a lot of urban fantasy series starters have. However, I feel like Kate Daniels manages to stand out with more ‘bite’ (thank my mom for that pun) and succeeds in making a lasting impression that encourages me to seek out more books like this going forward.
What do you guys think of the Special Edition cover that was released around the same time as Magic Rises? Better, worse, more accurate, even sillier looking than the first one?
Personally, I think it fits much better with the description of Kate in the book, but she still looks too soft. Let me know what you think in the comments! (Bonus points if you’ve seen the Gollanz cover. I mean, at least it’s an actual saber instead of a broadsword, but still.)