REVIEW: Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8) by Ilona Andrews
After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Kate and Curran know that separating from the Pack completely is a process that will take time.
But when they learn that their friend Eduardo has gone missing, Kate and Curran shift their focus to investigate his disappearance. Eduardo was a fellow member of the Mercenary Guild, so Kate knows the best place to start looking is his most recent jobs. As Kate and Curran dig further into the merc’s business, they discover that the Guild has gone to hell and that Eduardo’s assignments are connected in the most sinister way…
An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece.
SOME SPOILERS FROM THE PREVIOUS BOOKS, BEWARE.
Dear Ilona Andrews,
I love these series, but I have never reviewed a Kate Daniels book at DA. This is the eighth book in the series, so readers, you cannot start reading from this book. You just can’t. You will miss *a lot*. My review will make a couple of references to the events of the previous books – it is impossible not to, but really the blurb tells you the main spoiler of the previous book anyway.
The confrontation with Kate’s Daddy Dearest at the end of book seven ended up with Kate and Curran leaving their positions of Beast Lord and Consort and separating from the pack. Technically they cannot even visit the pack for 90 days in order not to influence anyone who may want to leave the pack as part of their “separation staff,” and I believe there is a month or so left of this period when the book begins. I think it was very wise of the writers to come up with the “separation staff” idea, because while I love Kate and Curran very much, I cannot imagine these books without Derek, Andrea, Jim, Barrabas and several other people anymore. Thank goodness that their friends who did not leave with them still remain their friends, as this book makes clear, but I definitely missed the Pack much more than I thought I would.
Do not get me wrong, I absolutely understand and appreciate why the writers gave Kate and Curran’s lives a new direction. Overall, this book read to me as an interlude before the last (hopefully!) big arc in the series, which will be occuring in books nine and ten.
There was a villain, a scary villain, but overall the book definitely left me with a less intense feeling than the last one – probably because Kate’s fight with her father, which is supposedly a main conflict of the series, did not have any new developments (dinner does not count ;)). It is also possible that I was not as worried when I was reading this book, because the person they were trying to save was a character I did not really know or have any emotional attachment to. I was worried for George, sure, because I did not want her to be devastated. But Eduardo himself? So far he has had such a tiny role in the books that I do not think I would have been too upset if the mission of this book had failed.
I am not saying this as a criticism. As I said before, I think the book was an interlude and I appreciate that the writers gave their readers a chance to catch a breath in this book. Of course, “catching a breath” is a matter of degree – lives are in danger, Kate gets a serious injury – so it is business as usual in a way.
I really appreciate that Kate did not lose her sense of humor. I smiled and laughed many times while I was reading. Humor is such a subjective thing, but the Andrews’ humor works for me pretty much all the time in this series.
Before Kate and Curran learn about Eduardo’s disappearance and decide to take on the case, they need to defeat some ghouls (don’t ask!). Usually conversations with your opponent before you actually decide you may want to start the fight make me roll my eyes, but here it all made sense, because Kate does not just chit-chat with them. At first, she tries to get them to leave, but then she distracts them in order to prepare her weapon of choice (and give Curran a chance to attack). *And* she is funny.
“This is your last night. These are the last breaths you will take. I will kill every one of you.”
The leader ghoul snarled, dropping all pretense. “You and what army?”
I began pulling magic to me. This would hurt. This always hurt. “That’s the great thing about werelions. You don’t need an army. You just need one.”
The ghoul twisted his face.
“You’re not a werelion, meat”
“I’m not.” I nodded behind them. “He is.”
The leader ghoul spun around.”
Readers of the series know that while echoes of mythology (Russian and a couple of others) show up in the books quite often, several of the earlier books have focused on specific mythos from very different origins. The writers have incorporated these mythologies into their stories very well, and this book is no exception. I cannot tell you which mythology plays a major role here, though, because that could be a spoiler about the villain of the story.
I always love Kate and Curran’s developing relationship, and I cannot give it enough praise. I love that they made me like an Alpha hero (because to say that I usually don’t would be a huge understatement). I love that they are constantly growing and become more and more attuned to each other with every book. They love each other’s best parts, but they also seem to know each other’s flaws, and more importantly, they learn to deal with them without being silly. I have read reviews which felt that when Kate and Curran finally got together they became boring, but I disagree. Yes, they do not engage in as much hilarious bickering as they did when they were dating (if one can call their courtship “dating” ?), but they are still dealing with matters of life and death on a regular basis. They both have very strong personalities which clash sometimes, but more often than not they know that they love each other, need to accept each other’s quirks, and deal with what life keeps throwing at them.
I have always loved Kate holding her own with Curran when he is issuing directives (even when he has the best intentions in mind), as she does here:
“Fine. I’ll stay here with this thing, and you will drive herself to the hospital.”
He hit me with the alpha stare.
I opened my eyes as wide as I could.
“Why, of course, Your Majesty. What was I thinking? I will go and do this right away, just please don’t look at me.”
“Kate, get in the car.”
“Maybe you should growl dramatically. I don’t think I’m intimidated enough.”
“I will put you in the car.”
“No, you won’t.”
“He snarled. “Argh! Why don’t you ever do anything I ask you to?”
“Because you don’t ask. You tell me.”
We glared at each other.”
Then there is a time later in the book when Kate realizes that Curran is justifiably upset with her for rushing into another fight when he specifically asked her not to do “one thing,” and she apologizes because she realizes how much of a toll her previous injury took. These two just exhibit so much real couple behavior to me.
I think that one of the big reasons why I love these books so much is because I have no idea what is going to happen at the end. Wait, let me scratch that. The authors hinted very strongly that they are not so edgy as to kill Kate and Curran at the end (I am pretty sure they actually came out and said that), but how the “Kate versus Roland” storyline will be resolved? I have no idea. I surely hope that it will not be “Star Wars” like resolution but one never knows!