Book Review: Ilona Andrews’ Magic Slays

Posted July 23, 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 Slays

Magic Slays


Ilona Andrews

urban fantasy that was published by Penguin on April 25, 2011 and has 320 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
(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 Bleeds, Magic Rises, Magic Bleeds, Burn For Me, Night Shift, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds

Fifth in the Kate Daniels urban fantasy series in a dystopian Atlanta where magic wars with tech and revolves around Kate Daniels and Curran.

If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Kate Daniels books at KD Did It Takes on Books.

My Take

There’s a tiny bit of tension lacking now that Kate and Curran are together but the series will never be tension-less: Curran is too caught up in his possessiveness and fears for a Kate who is herself fearless with a knack for getting herself into humongous trouble. I do love how Andrews keeps the humor in!

Kate does crack me up…and she’s cracking herself up what with falling out of bed, his bed, I mean, our bed. The Beast Lord’s. Yes, the one that’s four-feet high that Curran is offering to install a child playground slide for her… Then there are all his people, the Pack, trying out different terms of address for her: Consort, Alpha, Lady, and Mate. None of which Kate likes. She does, however, pay Curran back with Your Fluffiness, His Furriness, His Fussiness, and more.

And Julie. Kate wanted her in boarding school, learning how to use her own magic, where she’d be safe from the drama of Kate’s own life. Instead Curran suggests she’ll be safer at the Keep. You know, where there are all these “homicidal maniacs who grew teeth the size of switchblades and erupted into a violent frenzy when threatened”, LOL.

The question is, where ever would Kate find the time to spend with Julie, as her new business is “going so well” that Kate is worried she’ll start running down the street screaming, “We kill things for money!”

I want to say that Magic Slays is a bridge novel but it’s not really. There’s too much independent action even though all the action surrounding the main event is setting us up for the next novel. Curran and Kate’s relationship has mellowed in that Kate knows how much she loves Curran — a weakness that could have repercussions. We learn of the strictures that affect Kate’s relationships with other groups around the city now that she’s the Beast Lord’s lady. Saiman’s fears are addressed although we still don’t know what Curran will do to him…personally. Kate’s relationships within the Keep seem to be in a state of flux although that one particular kill Kate makes has Curran pretty confident. I’m anxious to see what the results of that particular fight have for her with the other weres. Her newly-found family with the promise of what they can teach her to enable her to survive Roland has, well, promise.

Kate is also fairly forthcoming in what she tells Curran about her past and her true abilities.

It’s a story that focuses on love:

  • that flush of heat when you hear, touch, or see the one you desire
  • the worry for one important to you (a horny fifteen-year-old clueless Bouda whom nobody wants and Julie’s escape)
  • the worry if their love is true (a combination of what Kate learns about her mother — it’s enough to make you weep along with why the very possessive Curran wants her — it’s the Alice-in-Wonderland vibe of visiting Evdokia and her revelations that combine with Derin’s manipulations that find Kate questioning Curran’s love for her.)
  • the misperception (just wait till you read the case between the lovelorn Kenneth and the defensive Sandra! Too funny, and too idiotic. And Kate slams the wolf alphas…YES!)
  • the manipulation of love as Kate learned with her first boyfriend, Derin
  • the desire for it
  • the compromises one makes for love (hearing those whiny petitions, LOL)

Then there’s the love for power, for one’s work, a love without thought as in a brilliant scientist creating destruction simply because it’s there.


“Curran wasn’t handling this whole mating thing any better. Yesterday he’d called me at the office claiming that he couldn’t find his socks. We talked for two hours.”

I did enjoy the breakdown Kate and Andrea did on why Rene wants to hire them — very smart.

And there are the gems in amongst the snark…

“Humans tend to segregate the world: enemies on one side, friends on the other. Friends are people we know. Enemies are the Other. It doesn’t matter if this Other is actually guilty of any crimes … people … just want an excuse to vent their rage. … [Other becomes] an idea, an abstraction of everything that’s wrong with their world. … the easiest way for them to target you as this Other is to find something that’s different about you. Color of your skin. The way you speak. THe place you’re from.”

Oh, Curran’s words towards the end, his promise just makes me want to cry.

The Story

Trouble never does come in dribs and drabs for Kate, and her first case since opening her own investigative agency turns into a whopper. One where magic could indeed be slain. Still, it’s better than going into her lonely new office where the only requests that pile up are the bills.

It may be the job from hell, but there aren’t many choices, and now that Andrea has shown up, Kate’s own chances have improved. Until she learns of that package that got mailed. Yep, just when Kate thinks school and Julie are settled…she would never have thought working in the mailroom would be a bad idea.

Now magical anomalies are occurring all over town. At least, they’re only deviations until Kate discovers the pattern.

Then there’s the hassle Jennifer constantly puts her through…until Kate’s brilliant decision at petitions court…snicker… And Curran has saddled her with bodyguards but at least Derek is competent. This scrappy little, oversexed 15-year-old bouda is just a pain but she did promise Aunt B…sigh… But it’s an Aunt B who makes Julie vulnerable, wide open…

…but not as wide open as the magic-users of Atlanta.

The Characters

Kate Daniels is mated to Curran, and she’s hoping that more business will show up on the doorstep of her new business, Cutting Edge Investigations. Slayer is the name of her almost-sentient saber. Julie, her ward for the past nine months since Magic Burns, 2, hates her school. Betsi and the Karmelion are history now — the Beast Lord vetoed Kate ever driving them again. As for the blood manipulation, so far Kate can only do it when she’s near death. Voron was Roland’s Warlord before he became her stepfather. Grendel, Kate’s poodle/Black Dog. Andrea Nash is a now-retired knight.

The Pack
The Pack is 1,500 shapeshifters-strong in the Atlanta area and a bit beyond, and Curran Lennart, a lionshifter, is their leader. There are seven clans: bouda (Aunt B); wolves (Daniel and Jennifer); Clan Cat; rats (Robert and Thomas Lonesco); Clan Heavy are the BIG boys; Clan Nimble; and, Clan Jackal. The Pack’s central headquarters is the Keep.

Jim Shrapshire is a jaguar shapeshifter in charge of the Pack’s security. Derek Gaunt, a wolfshifter (Magic Strikes, 3,), works directly for and is completely loyal to Curran. Dr. Doolittle, a medmage badger, keeps on bringing Kate and Curran back to health. Maddie is Doolittle’s niece, and she’s right around Julie’s age. Sander is one of Doolittle’s medics. Mahon is the Kodiak bearshifter and the Pack Executioner; he’s married to Martha. Part of Aunt B’s deal with Kate includes Barabas, a mongoose and Pack lawyer, and Jezebel, a bouda. Eduardo is a werebuffalo.

Raphael, Aunt B’s son wants nothing to do with Andrea after she chooses the wrong side. Ascanio Ferara is a fifteen-year-old Bouda with whacked-out hormones, and Curran thinks bodyguarding Kate will help him out. Leslie Wren is a render, a specialized warrior. Georgetta‘s (just call her George) dad is Mahon; she’s also the neutral third party who prepares summaries of cases and runs hearings for the Pack.

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.

Adam Kamen is a brilliant engineer/genius-applied-magic theorist working on a special project for some investors. Saiman is a very self-absorbed polymorph who concentrates on acquiring secrets and information for money. He’s Kate’s last-ditch resource for information, and now he’s moving out of the city — it’s gotten too hot for him on too many levels. Rabbi Peter helps with one of the tales Elijah the Unbeliever told.

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. Reckon ya better not be a shapeshifter, either.

Knights of the Order
Ted Moynohan is the knight-protector and the definition of bigoted jerk. Shane Andersen is in charge at the armory now, and he refuses to return some of Andrea’s weapons. Maxine is the telepathic secretary with cookies!

The Mercenary Guild is hired when it’s magic that the police can’t or won’t handle. Mark is the Guild secretary and now its overseer. Bob is one of the mercs. Luther Dillon is a wizard who used to moonlight for the Guild. Blaine “the Blade” Simmons is an independent mercenary with a love for wetwork.

Conclave started as a quarterly meeting between Pack and People; now Curran wants a Conclave of all magic users. Ragnvald is part of the Norse Heritage. Amadahy is one of the Cherokee shamans. Cadeyrn leads the Druids.

The People
The People are necromancers, Masters of the Dead, who navigate the vampires with the Casino as their headquarters. Ghastek Stefanoff (his ambitions become more obvious which should get interesting in future stories!), Rowena, Mulradin, and Filipa are Masters of the Dead who show up for Conclave along with a journeyman, Bozydar. Emily is one of the journeymen shot by the overly enthusiastic PAD.

Assistant Principal Parker works at Julie’s school.

Rene, last seen in Magic Strikes, 3, has worked for Red Guard, an elite security agency, for the past 12 years and wants to hire Kate. Laurent de Harven is the dead guard; Shohan Henderson is the guard in charge; Debra Abrams is the shift supervisor; Julio Rivera was the shift sergeant; and, Mason Vaughn and Rig Devar are other guards at the Sibley Forest location.

Grigorii Semionovich and his son, Roman, are Volhvs, Slavic pagan priests with broad powers in service to Chernobog. His opposite is Belobog, and his brother, Vasiliy Evgenievich, is his priest. Evdokia Ivanovna is Grigorii’s wife and a Slavic witch, a Baba Yaga with a chicken-footed house and part of the Witch Oracle with secrets from Kate’s past; Slava, one of their sons, is a “harmless” nutcase with a bow and arrow.

Lighthouse Keepers
Lighthouse Keepers is a secret terrorist organization which hates magic users, magic creatures, and wants to exterminate ’em all. Having created sleepers who have penetrated the People, the Pack, and the Order makes the Keepers a very strong enemy. Hunter Becker was a knight of the Order and a Keeper.

The Cover and Title

The cover is fuchsia-hued with a full moon illuminating the ruins of Atlanta’s high-rises with a watchful Curran behind a crouching Kate holding Slayer.

The title can be taken two ways: Magic Slays when the magic-users of Atlanta must do battle against the anti-magic bigots who want to take them down.