Ilona Andrews has done a wonderful job of walking that fine line between tough, sassy heroine and ridiculous, overly powerful superwoman. Kate Daniels is a unique character in a genre that is largely populated with carbon copies of the same woman. Kudos to Andrews, who has once again managed to balance the qualities of power and vulnerability to perfection.
Magic Strikes doesn’t pick right up where Magic Burns left off. Time has passed for Kate and Andrews didn’t feel compelled to fill in every little detail that happened off-screen. But, events have again conspired to lure Kate into situations where her loyalty to friends and fears of her past come into conflict. That tension is part of what makes these books worth reading.
An underground gladiatorial games of sorts provides the backdrop for the story as new villains emerge and looming threats from previous novels begin to actually take shape. The reader is not required to have perfect recall of the previous books, but minimal familiarity will help.
What Andrews does best is to create tension. Whether it’s between Kate and her value system or Kate and Curran, the local lycanthrope leader, it’s intense. But there’s enough humorous dialogue to relieve the tension and actually make you chuckle a bit.
I particularly like that Kate remains vulnerable. Whether it’s her feelings, or actual physical attacks, she knows that there are some fights she can’t win and there are some fights that she is willing to lose. That sense of possible death is what separates Ilona Andrews from most of the other urban fantasists.
That, and the fact that she doesn’t put Kate to bed with every gorgeous creature who enters the story. Another wonderful installment.