Book Review: Ilona Andrews’ Magic Bleeds

Posted July 18, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Ilona Andrews’ Magic Bleeds

Magic Bleeds


Ilona Andrews

urban fantasy that was published by Ace Books on May 25, 2010 and has 388 pages.

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(This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.)

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include On the Edge, Bayou Moon, Must Love Hellhounds, Dark and Stormy Knights, Angels of Darkness, Hexed, Fate's Edge, Hex Appeal, An Apple for the Creature, "Magic Gifts", Gunmetal Magic, Innkeeper Chronicles, Steel's Edge, Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Slays, Magic Rises, Magic Bleeds, Burn For Me, Night Shift, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds

Fourth in the Kate Daniels urban fantasy series set in an alternate-universe Atlanta, and it’s three months since Magic Strikes.

“In essence, if a person feels they are human, then they are.”

Magic Bleeds won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award (RT Award) for Urban Fantasy and was nominated for the Goodreads Choice for Favorite Book, Paranormal Fantasy in 2010. In 2011, it was a nominee for the DABWAHA Romance Tournament Nominee for Best Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy Reader.

My Take

From the very first book in the series, Magic Bites, we’ve been slowly teased with the knowledge that Kate is different from everything on Earth. We eventually learned that Roland is her father. We know that Kate dare not leave any molecule of her blood behind for someone to sniff out as it would tell too much about her.

And now we learn to never stand Kate up, for it’s big trouble in Atlanta — when Curran doesn’t show. Oh, boy. And it’s hard work listening to Kate become furious and then have to talk herself down. It makes sense, but, ooh, mama, it hurts. But the scene when Kate first encounters Curran after he skipped her dinner…smokin’…ooooh, mama!

The way vampires are depicted in this is both intriguing and gross. It certainly makes for some interesting dialog between the Masters and Journeymen who navigate the things. Then toss in Kate’s story of the first vampire which she tells the golem with its allusion to Cain and Abel. Wasn’t my first thought when it came to that Bible tale, but Andrews does it well.

We get Andrea’s recent back history as to how she got sidelined to Atlanta as well as Curran’s family history. The only positive I can find in their backstories is that this type of behavior is found in human society as well…sigh…

Nice touch, bringing in the personal with those chocolate-covered strawberries — it made me cry. Saiman, of course, is just the opposite of sentimental when he coerces Kate into being his date — it’s war when Saiman pays Curran back for having Aunt B and Mahon “guard” him during the Games in Magic Strikes, 3. And ya just can’t help but crack up over Curran’s retribution…as much as it hurts to see that kind of damage.

We get another tidbit to tack onto our too-skimpy knowledge about Kate’s background when Saiman claims that there were hundreds of words written on Kate’s skin. He also makes her a business offer, anticipating Curran here.

Kate and Curran’s courting intensifies — Mating Negotiation 101 — unfortunately it’s “all or nothing” in the manner of Cat weres with Kate taking the leap, defying the precepts taught her by her stepfather, Voron. In an odd way, the negotiating between Kate and Curran is the kind that every couple should do when first thinking of moving in together or simply becoming a monogamous couple as it addresses and acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses of each party. It is funny how possessive and jealous Curran is — just read Jim’s frustration at the questions that would follow if he were to get into a jeep with Kate. I do love his “demands” at the end. How it shows he gets Kate; he knows what she needs; and, he knows the minimum of what he needs to know she’s safe.

This is the story with the blowup between Raphael and Andrea over her loyalty to the Knights. And the problem is that I can see both sides to this. Raphael does have the edge, though.

Erra does deliver an interesting lecture on conquering — whether its people or cities — and Kate delivers one back on Erra’s childishness. Doesn’t go down well, LOL.

Ted is such a betraying idiot of a jerk, and his bigotry is wide, covering women and his narrow definition of human.

“It’s convenient for us to let them think they’re human for the time being, but in the end, there is no place for them in our society.”

– Ted Moynohan

He’s not the only betraying ally either. With Curran down, his Pack Council, the people he’s supported and been so fair to are plotting his removal and Kate’s ejection.

The Story

It’s been two months since Kate lost her bet with Curran, and now she’s putting the finishing touches on that dinner she owes him. And he’s late. Kate knows he wouldn’t miss this dinner, so the response she gets to her phone call ticks her off no end.

It’s the plague the Steel Mary sets off that is the focus here, but the shocker is when Ghastek shows up in Kate’s office and petitions aid from the Order. Yup, must be the end of the world or hell freezing over.

The Characters

Kate Daniels is a Friend of the Pack and the liaison between the Guild and the Order. Slayer is the name of her almost-sentient saber. Julie, a human m-scanner we met in Magic Burns, 2, is now her ward. Marigold is her mule. Voron the Raven is her stepfather and once Roland’s Warlord. Grendel is the name of the phantom poodle Kate picks up at the Steel Bar. Christy lives down the road from Kate’s house in Savannah.

The Pack
The Pack is all 1,500 (their population has really increased over the last couple books!) shapeshifters in the Atlanta area and a bit beyond. It includes seven clans: bouda (Aunt B); wolves (Daniel and Jennifer are the alphas); Clan Cat; rats (Robert and Thomas Lonesco are the alphas); Clan Heavy are the bears, wereboars, werebison, werewolverines, and werebabboon; Clan Nimble; and, Clan Jackal. It’s led by the strongest among them: the Beast Lord of Atlanta, Curran, a First, which terrifies Erra and Roland. The Pack’s central headquarters is the Keep.

Jim Shrapshire is a shapeshifter, a Jaguar in charge of the Pack’s security, and he is the closest to being a friend as Kate can get. The one absolute Kate can always count on with him is that the Pack will always come first. Brenna, George, and Dingo are part of his security team. Derek Gaunt, a damaged killer wolf shapeshifter (Magic Strikes), works directly for and is completely loyal to Curran. Dr. Doolittle, a medmage badger, keeps on bringing Kate and Curran back to health. Dali is a legally blind, driving-mad, Indonesian shapeshifter, a vegetarian tiger who gets sick at the sight of blood. Mahon is the Kodiak bearshifter, and the very traditional man who stood as a father to Curran. Part of Aunt B’s deal with Kate includes Barabas and Jezebel.

The Lycos Virus, a.k.a., Lyc-V for short, changes a human into a shapeshifter, leading to the individual’s battle between mind and body. If the mind wins, they join the Pack. A loner is a shapeshifter who chooses not to join the Pack; a loup is a shapeshifter who allows their body to control their actions, and they’re killed on sight.

Saiman, a different kind of shapeshifter, a polymorph, is the best expert in the city. He is Kate’s resource for truly mystifying questions of magic, specializing in information, and he has a bone to pick with Curran. Naeemah is a croc shifter who owes Hugh d’Ambray a favor. Cash and his wife, Maggie, own the Steel Horse, a border-straddling bar. Toby and Vik are the bouncers. Joshua is a shapeshifter and the first victim in Atlanta. Rabbi Melissa Snowdoll leads Kate to Rabbis Peter Kranz and John Weiss.

The three legal enforcement divisions are the Paranormal Activity Police Division (PAD), which is like a magic SWAT unit; the Military Supernatural Defense Units (MSDU); and, the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid will help you and only charge what you can afford. Hopefully you can also afford to lose.

Patrice Lane is Biohazard’s in-house medmage.

Knights of the Order
Andrea Nash is a knight but has been sidelined by Ted; she’s also beastkin, the product of a union between a werehyena and a hyenawere. She’s been happily dating Raphael, Aunt B’s beyond-gorgeous son who met her in Magic Burns. Maxine is the telepathic secretary with cookies! Ted Moynohan is the knight-protector and the definition of bigoted jerk. Mauro, a Samoan whose wife is a vet, is another knight. Richter is a new addition to the Atlanta Order. Tamara Wilson is a master-at-arms and good with a blade. Beau Clayton is the sheriff in Milton County with a weakness for swords.

The Mercenary Guild is hired when it’s magic that the police can’t or won’t handle. The Clerk mans the counter while Mark is the Guild secretary. Solomon Red heads up the Guild, a legend. Ivera, Amelia Juke, Bob Carver, and Ken, a Hungarian mage, are the Four Horsemen; Ronnie Ma works with Eastern magic.

The People
The People are necromancers, Masters of the Dead, who navigate the vampires with the Casino as their headquarters. Ghastek Stefanoff and Rowena are both Masters of the Dead; Ghastek is the more prominent, the most dangerous, and has the most encounters with Kate while Kate prefers Rowena, if she has to talk to one of the People. Nataraja leads the People in Atlanta and answers to Roland, the legendary head of all the People and Kate’s biological father. Roland is also the Ishum of Babylon and Erra’s brother. Hugh d’Ambray is Roland’s Warlord; he witnessed Kate’s breaking of an unbreakable sword, the Scarlet Star in Magic Strikes.

Auntie Erra, a.k.a., Nergal, is a god of plagues, fear, and chaos with seven warriors: Darkness, Torch, Beast, Tremor, Gale, Deluge, and Venom. A psychotic being worshipping violence and mayhem. Feared by the inhabitants of the first Babylon and now, intent on destroying the Pack the same way she and Roland, her brother Im, also known as Ishum, havedestroyed before.

The Cover and Title

Well, it’s different. I keep expecting the background to reflect the magic breakdown of Atlanta but this, and probably more accurately, reflects the magic of love as Kate glares out at us holding her saber, Slayer, bristling with light as Curran in his animal shape gazes up although I can’t tell if it’s Kate or the sword which holds his attention.

The title refers to family. And when that family is über supernatural and clashes with each other, well, Magic Bleeds.