Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels #1)

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews is an urban fantasy novel, the first book in the Kate Daniel series. Ilona Andrews is the pen name of a husband and wife writing team, and together I think they have produced a solid first entry for what might become an exceptional series. The werewolves in this book might brood, but the vampires don't sparkle, and everything bites.

The story follows Kate Daniels, a magical mercenary who makes a living in Atlanta doing the crap jobs that nobody else wants to do. When her guardian and mentor are found dead, Kate demands that she be put on the case, though it’s probably a bad idea given how emotional she is, and how poorly the magical community reacts to mercenaries in general. Her investigations lead her all over the city, to many supernatural beings, and if she's lucky, she might just be able to piss them all off in one fell swoop.

Kate Daniels is the hero of this story, and she is a badass mercenary who won’t take crap off of nobody. When you read an urban fantasy with a female lead, there seems to be an expectation that romance will take centre stage, but in Magic Bites, the magic and action remain the showpiece. Andrews seems to eschew the stereotypes here in favour of someone who dominates the room with her presence, shoots first, asks questions later, then poorly deals with the fallout. Kate Daniels is someone I want to get to know.

The strength of Kate is what dragged me through this book, because otherwise it was a stock standard urban fantasy with a steep learning curve for the first few pages, but relatively predictable for the rest. The mystery driving the main conflict wasn't particularly mysterious; the idea of a third party trying to start a war between two super powers has been done in similar ways many times before. It’s a perfectly adequate story. I'm thankful that the story is told from the first person perspective, because it is the way Kate colours the world and the story that makes it interesting. She makes the story fun, and that is the important thing.

Magic Bites is a solid first book in a series, and it did enough to make me want to read the rest of the books in the series. People I trust have great things to say about the rest of the series, and I suspect that each book will get better and better.

7/10 The vampires don't sparkle and everything bites.

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