Magic Bleeds: Bursting at the seams with plot

urban fantasy book reviews: Ilona Andrews, Kate Daniels: 4. Magic Bleedsurban fantasy book reviews Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Magic BleedsMagic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Ever since that teaser chapter at the end of On the Edge, we Ilona Andrews fans have been dying to get our hands on Magic Bleeds. Curran stands Kate up, and when she calls the Keep trying to reach him, his people give her a humiliating brush-off. Not knowing why this happened, and what happens next, has had us anxious for months! Well, fellow Andrews fans, this is the book you’ve been waiting for. And the first thing you want to know, I’m sure, is “is it worth the wait?”

In a word, yes!

Kate Daniels is my favorite urban fantasy series, yet between books, I sometimes forget just how much I’m craving this character, this voice. I don’t realize how much I’ve missed it until I can sink into it again. When I reached these lines —

Who the hell would attack the Steel Horse anyway? What was the thinking behind that? “Here is a bar full of psychotic killers who grow giant claws and people who pilot the undead for a living. I think I’ll go wreck the place.”

— I said, out loud, “My girl’s back!”

Kate goes to the aforementioned wrecked bar to investigate, and finds a scene of horror. Someone incited a bar brawl, then murdered one of the regulars and loosed a potentially devastating plague. Kate must figure out who has done this and why, then eradicate the threat. The solution, when it’s revealed, is really clever. I’m even more impressed with it now that I’ve looked up the myth on which it’s based.

(She also finds a dog. Every scene involving the dog is wonderful. And just wait till you find out what Kate names the dog and why she picks that name.)

Magic Bleeds is bursting at the seams with plot. In addition to the mysterious disease-spreading entity, Kate has to deal with shapeshifter politics, the slick machinations of Saiman, and plenty of upheavals in her personal and professional life.

And Curran. Kate tries so hard to put Curran out of her mind, but he’s prominent enough in supernatural Atlanta that she keeps running into painful reminders of him. When the two finally speak again, it’s explosive. These two are infuriating, frustrating, and perfect for each other. I kept wanting to reach into the book and knock their heads together! So. Much. Pride. So. Much. Stubbornness. It’s great fun and incredibly tense at the same time.

All of this is narrated in Kate’s snarky voice. Her voice feels like an old friend at this point and adds some comic relief to a pretty dark story. Magic Bleeds has about the same level of gore as Magic Bites, which is to say a lot. It’s just violence violence this time rather than sexual violence, though, so many readers may find it more palatable.

I liked Magic Strikes just a little bit more than Magic Bleeds, but that’s like saying I like the raspberry Ghirardelli chocolates better than the caramel ones. Magic Bleeds is a terrific urban fantasy novel and a worthy addition to a great series. If you’re new to Kate Daniels, you’ll want to start with the earlier books; the events of this book are much more affecting if you’ve read the build-up. If you’ve been following Kate’s adventures, don’t hesitate to pick this up!

~Kelly Lasiter

urban fantasy book reviews Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Magic BleedsKate Daniels is a hard-as-they-come heroine with magic, swordsmanship and a very interesting history. Ilona Andrews delivers another wonderful installment with Magic Bleeds. As good as the books have been so far, Andrews takes the elements of action and personal interaction that are at the core of good urban fantasy and uses them artistically to tell another great story.

Kate is special among the glut of urban fantasy heroines because she loses fights, gets hurt, and has not compromised her standards just because she’s in love. She is still a bad-ass, but you have to respect her for making tangible sacrifices in order to do what needs to be done.

In Magic Bleeds, Kate tries to balance her obligations to the many interests in Atlanta against her personal desires and we can see how she gets caught wanting to do two things at once. When conflicts between an employer and her commitment to a faction of the paranormal community arise, Kate has to make some choices that have real consequences that can’t be fixed with a winsome smile and a flash of cleavage.

Ilona Andrews continues to give us solid supporting characters in Magic Bleeds, too. The ongoing romantic entanglement between Kate and Curran keeps you smiling, laughing and engrossed. It’s the sort of romantic interaction that is not off-putting for someone (like me) who reads these books for the fantasy first and the relationships second. I really liked some of the continued interplay with Ghastek, the Master of the Dead, because of some of the additional light she sheds on the necromancer/vampire segment of the community. Andrews never skimps on details.

Magic Bleeds is exactly what I wanted to see from the series. More world building, more character development and a whole bunch of bloody action that makes you stick to the story to see what happens next. This series is rapidly becoming my favorite in the urban fantasy genre… which is really saying something.

~John Hulet

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

View all posts by Kelly Lasiter


  1. Kelly, you and John have convinced me that I should read these. I’ll put on my TBR list and listen to the audiobook version.

  2. You really should. Watch your step and don’t fall in the small plot hole in the first one, and after that they’re amazing. (Even the first one is *good*. It’s just not *amazing*.)

  3. And I hope they have a good reader. Kate’s voice makes or breaks the series and they’d better have someone who can really nail her personality. :thumb:

  4. I just listened to the sample at Audible and the reader sounds really good. Not a sweet cloying voice (I hate that).

  5. I can’t wait to get my hands on Magic Bleeds. I loved Magic Strikes so I was worried that the next book wouldn’t measure up to that level of awesomeness but from your review and others I’ve read I have nothing to fear.

  6. @Kat: Sweet and cloying would be all wrong for her! :) Glad it’s a good voice.

    @Bookie: Nope, nothing to fear. I liked the third one better, but not by leaps and bounds. Both are awesome. :)

  7. This turned out to be one of my top 5 ongoing series. But as with the Dresden files, I almost didn’t get through the first book. In fact, I almost didn’t get through the first chapter of the first book. Glad now that I didn’t quit.

  8. Kelly L. /

    @Stephen, I had trouble with the first book too, and I sometimes think the main reason I did go on to read book two was that I had taken both of them on vacation with me and didn’t have much else to read. And then from book two on, I was hooked.

    • Arcanist Lupus /

      I actually skipped the first book at first (although I’ve since gone back and read it.)

      I’d found the second book and seen that it looked interesting, and since the reviews here of the second were much better than the first, I skipped the first and just jumped in there. The second book makes an excellent starting point – it recaps all the important details of the first book well, and none of the relationships have developed far enough yet that you loose too much history.


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