Happy May, everyone! This “unofficial hiatus” seems indefinite and I’m hesitant to say it’s ending with the arrival of a new month, but I’m still working on my mental health and learning the difference between self-care and self-gratification. I did take a step back from school and put the majority of my focus on a new job, however, I realized I’m still stalling on those things I loved that I set aside months ago, such as writing and reading. I hadn’t read a new book in weeks until yesterday afternoon, and although I won’t be talking about that treat until Thursday, I figured why not give writing a shot today, and dip my toes into what will hopefully be a full month of reading and writing. To read my reviews of the first two audiobooks in this series, click here and here.
Kate Daniels is a fierce, hardass woman warrior with a heart of gold wrapped in stone and a magic sword that can flay the skin off of your worst nightmare. Her adoptive father, Voron, did everything he could to turn her into a sociopathic killing machine, but his own compassion made it impossible for her to become an empty shell despite over a decade of honing her to be a cool and vicious blade. After Voron’s death and the murder of her guardian Greg, she’s warred with deep instincts warning her from getting too close to people who could use her, and finds herself charting unfamiliar territory after fighting side by side with the Pack in Magic Burns. Now she’s got a tough and loyal best friend in on her most carefully kept secret, a cunning and sexy werelion courting her as his mate, and a whole lot of trouble heading her way after Boy Wonder goes down for the count and everyone’s favorite band of misfits gets ready to kick ass and take names in his place. The Midnight Games might be forbidden, but Kate knows there’s no stopping powerful members of the Pack from enacting retribution against those who brutalized one of their own, and she’s right there with them in a fight to the death for the shapeshifters she now calls friends.
Magic Strikes is a solid favorite of the series to date, and after listening to the audiobook back in February, I fell in love all over again with Renee Raudman’s reading style for this series. Renee’s voice for Kate Daniels captures the essence of who she is as a person: with her sharp wit and wiseass comments that both exemplify her intellect and mask deeply hidden fears, a confidence in her skills as a warrior yet charming aloofness when it comes to having a social life, and a swath of knowledge about mythology that skirts the edge of obsession when it comes to anything relating to her father, Kate is one of the most well-developed and complex characters in urban fantasy today. It is impossible to pigeon-hole her into one type of character because she jumps out of each page as a fully formed individual ready to take whatever the world throws her way and not let it slow her down. This isn’t limited to Kate, either: between Ilona & Gordon’s writing and Renee’s unique voice choices, each supporting character has a distinct personality and emerges from the book just as vividly without fail. I didn’t think it was possible, but I love all of these fictional people even more than I already did after listening to Renee bring them to life on my drives to and from school.
There isn’t much I don’t adore about this book. Almost everyone gets some kind of character development or backstory reveal, from Jim’s personal stake in the attack on his people to Saiman’s true form as a Frost giant. New characters like Dali the white tiger and Roland’s new warlord Hugh d’Ambry are introduced, and old characters like Kate’s ward Julie are brought back with just enough to make them feel like crucial parts of the story. Kate and Curran see the most growth by far, as more pieces in their individual identities and relationship as a whole begin to fall into place. Admittedly, there is a lot less world-building and almost no focus on the Order or the Pack, but the character driven story more than makes up for the selective locations and provides a solid foundation for the series-wide arc of Kate (& Curran!) vs. Roland.
This isn’t the kind of book you can jump into without reading the first two, but it is well worth it to start from the beginning and check this series out. If you’re a fan of Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, or Seanan McGuire, then the Kate Daniels series was made for you.