Friday, August 17, 2012

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews - review

Gunmetal Magic
Ilona Andrews
Set in the world of Kate Daniels
urban fantasy

******  (6 out of 6)
cover - This is a fitting cover.  I prefer the look of Kate Daniels, but this cover fits, and of course, this particular story isn't about Kate, it's about Andrea - a pale beastkin/hyena.  I love her guns (she's a marksman) and the buildings in the background represent what's happened to Atlanta since the shift.

I have been loving the Kate Daniels series ever since Magic Bites first came out.  That was a book that jumped off the shelf into my hands - I saw the title and never looked back.  I read Magic Dreams- a short story with another character in the mc role, and liked it quite a bit, so when I saw that Ilona Andrews was releasing a complete novel focusing on Andrea and Raphael, I knew it would be good.  Gunmetal Magic is just as enjoyable a read to me as the novels focusing on Kate Daniels.  I like the idea of other books with different main characters within the Kate Daniels' world, and between the Kate Daniels novels, the short stories, Gunmetal Magic and all the different characters in The Edge series, Ilona Andrews has proven that they can certainly play around with different characters and end up with a great variety of interesting characters and plots.

Andrea Nash is the friend that Kate made while working with The Order.  Throughout the series, their friendship has grown stronger and Andrea played a huge part in Magic Bleeds.  She ended up being found out as a beastkin - she was born to a shapeshifter mother and a father who was a hyena infected with the were virus, turning him from animal to human.  It wasn't a love story with them, Andrea was a result of a rape that the hyena didn't even understand as a rape (being an animal first).  Andrea's childhood was torturous, her mother and her being at the mercy of a truly malicious and sadistic clan of weres.  Fastforward to the present, she's lost the other "family" she's ever known, after being outed as a shapeshifter and is trying to come to terms with her other self - a side she's always kept hidden and tried to control.

Andrea has had a short dramatic relationship with Raphael - son of the alpha of the Bouda clan, which ended badly and she's dealing with all the post relationship trauma one goes through when she's asked to look into some deaths of workers from Raphael's company.  Things get a little sticky.

The murders themselves are mysterious - the victims are covered with snakebites.  They were guarding a newly discovered vault in a building being reclaimed by Raphael's company, the vault was left open and no one knows if anything has been taken, since they don't know what was in the vault to begin with.  Andrea has to find out who murdered the workers, why they were murdered and if anything was taken, and if so, for what reason?

The murders end up possibly tied to some sort of magic ritual, or maybe the victims were just in the way of someone getting what they wanted - but there are some definitely shady magical doings that just happen to be taking place.  There's some hinky stuff going, and some fun subplots - Raphael and Andrea's relationship, for one.  Ascanio's apprenticeship, Andrea's place in the Pack - will she or won't she finally join the pack?  The whole book - dialogue, pacing, narration, characters - as with all their books worked so well.  Except.....

There was only one part where everything came to a screeching halt for me.  I love their books - all of them, but the last novel and this one both have had this suddenly intense lecture like quality. In the last novel it was this longwinded lecture about the lyc virus, in the form of conversation complete with algebraic explanations.  Perfect for the average math whiz, but not fun for me.  In this novel - it was fractals...explaining chaos.  Also in the form of a conversation with one person explaining fractals to another.  Again - not fun for me, and totally did not fit with the rest of the narration.  I can understand the reasoning behind the use of fractals in the theory - (and with the earlier book's use of formulas to explain how the virus works or doesn't work) but it was pretty technical and didn't fit in smoothly with the rest of the text.  I don't get it, because it's so.... off from the rest of the book.  It almost seemed like an inside joke to me - let's see if anyone notices type of thing.  Really - the enjoyment factor of the book remained  very high - except it jarred me right out of the reading mood.  Pulled me right out of the story.  I hope they don't do this in future books, and I don't remember anything this obvious in any of their previous novels - just Magic Slays and Gunmetal Magic.

Some characters from earlier books are featured in Gunmetal Magic.  Ascanio - the 15 year old handsome as sin heartbreaker that has been put under Kate's care as an assistant/apprentice.  There is Roman, who is a Russian evil warlock who is strangely likeable and pleasant when not working the evil dark magic.  Of course, there is Raphael - the bouda who is so handsome that complete strangers will make fools of themselves for him.  There are also many of the regulars from the series - Dr Doolittle (one of my favorite characters) a honeybadger were, Jim the right hand of Curran, Curran the beastlord aka his furriness, and of course Kate.  It's fun to read about Kate from the pov of a completely different character.

I am looking forward to any novel Ilona Andrews writes in this universe - as well as the world of The Edge Series, which is just as good as this series; there's a bit more of the romance factor in that series, but it's written well.  There is another Kate Daniels novel coming out in February 2013, it's not titled yet.  And we have an Edge novel due out in November 2012 - Steel's Edge.  Sounds good.  Always fun to know there's more coming out from the Andrews team. Go over, if you haven't already, and explore their website- they have really worked on creating pages that fit the series.  Pages about the characters, about different areas, etc.  And they have a funny blog - these two rock.

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