JOINT REVIEW: Magic Tides by Ilona Andrews
In this brand-new Kate Daniels novella, Kate and Curran have recently relocated to Wilmington and are renovating their new
house fortress. Their contractor’s son is a friend of Conlan’s and when Darin, the boy’s teenaged cousin, is kidnapped by a gang called the Red Horn, Conlan lets Kate know. Of course, Kate can’t stand by and do nothing (and pretty clearly Conlan wants her to do something), so with the kidnapped boy’s father, Thomas, alongside her, Kate charges into the gang’s headquarters to kick ass and (literally) take names.
It turns out that slavers have already transported the boy elsewhere and Kate and Thomas follow a series of tips to get there before something terrible happens to Darin. While doing so, they run into the head knight at the Wilmington chapter of the Order, the legatus in charge of the People’s Wilmington base, the Farm, and the local shapeshifters. And of course, Kate must confront the powerful villain behind the kidnapping. Like any Kate Daniels book, it’s an action-and-humor filled ride from start to finish, and Sirius and I decided to review it together. Here is our joint review. — Janine
Janine: I liked this novella but I think after ten books the more recent ones are starting to feel like something I’ve read before. I was glad Kate, Curran and Conlan have moved to Wilmington because it was nice for the setting and side characters to be different.
I would have liked the authors to show that Kate and Curran are seven years older in more ways. Even if they don’t physically age (though I’m not clear on that), thirty-seven feels different than thirty. Except for one comment Kate made about how the kidnapping of children felt so much worse once you had a child yourself, that wasn’t shown, I felt.
Sirius: I liked this novella a lot. It did not knock my socks off but I did like it a lot. I actually was glad that the characters didn’t change much. I thought Kate changed enough between first and tenth book. I personally believe that most people don’t undergo significant personality changes between thirty and thirty-seven, but that’s just my personal experience. Of course as you said we get a hint that the changes that did happen to her were because of her being a parent. That was just a hint but because it is just a novella I was fine with that.
What I am trying to say I was glad to see the familiarity. I would not have wanted to see the rehashed plots in details for sure, but the familiarity that I saw I welcomed.
Janine: I don’t mean I wanted changes in personality, I mean I wanted more reactions to changes in their lives. They have left Atlanta now—do they miss it at all? Did Kate still feel that suppressed call to claim the city after she defeated Roland these past seven years? How did she deal with it? Julie has grown up and left—how did Kate feel about her having left the nest, even after they made up? Is she glad she still has Conlan home at least but worried he’ll grow up fast? Is she glad to see him make a new friend in the new neighborhood? Worried about how other kids might view him at the new school?
Personalities don’t change much but thirty-seven is still a different place in life from thirty. It’s different to have an adult daughter from a teenage daughter, for example.
Sirius: Ah thanks for clarifying. I guess I think Kate would not have enough time to think all these thoughts, or more precisely to share all of her thoughts with the readers in this specific story. She was concentrating on eliminating the threat so her main thoughts are about such threat IMO. And we do hear IMO that Julie is on her thoughts constantly. She shares how Julie would have viewed the cages, she wishes Julie were with her. Another character reminds her of Julie.
To me this was enough, for this specific story. I would not mind seeing all you mentioned, but I did not think long thoughts about her kids belonged in this novella.
As to Conlan growing up she talks about how Conlan basically manipulated her even for a good cause ( I am trying not to be spoilerish but she talks about him sharing sandwiches with his friend and then introducing the problem to Kate). I think she noticed that her boy is growing up, but maybe I am stretching.
Janine: Of course she noticed, she’s his mother. I didn’t want her thoughts to be long, or to have all the ones I mentioned (three or so would have been enough for me), but I wanted her thoughts more focused on the changes that have happened in the seven-year interval. It boils down to this: show me the passage of time, because it didn’t feel like seven years had gone by.
Curran and Conlan’s POVs are included and that was another element that added some freshness. I was hoping there would be more of Conlan’s POV because I really liked that.
Sirius: Conlan actually to me read way older than eight, but again I could be wrong. I know he is supposed to be super advanced for his age but I still didn’t quite buy it. To me he read more like eleven or twelve.
Janine: I agree that he read as older than he was (to me he read more like ten), especially in regard to some of the vocabulary he used. I wished they’d worked out a more distinct voice for him from Kate and Curran’s but I’m hopeful that this is something that will get better in future books.
Sirius: Yes, I hope Conlan’s voice will be worked out too.
Janine: Do you have any other thoughts about the book? Thinks you liked or disliked that happened? Things you wanted to happen that didn’t happen?
Sirius: I loved Kate’s kicking ass and taking names, very much. I just went with the flow here and there was nothing that I wanted or expect to happen. I would have loved more Kate and Curran on page together, but at the same time I think it also showed how much Curran matured and learned not to be an overprotective person and just easily agreed to her doing her kicking ass thing no matter how much he worried.
Janine: Yes, that was nice.
I really liked the People’s Wilmington headquarters, the Farm. It was so different from the Casino. Barrett Shaw, the legatus in charge of it, is very different from Ghastek, too.
Sirius: Funny, I always liked People less than other populations of the books. I mean nothing against them per se, but vampires as I may have mentioned in my other reviews of different books are just not really my thing. On the other hand, I really like that in these books vampires are not romantic characters, but just manikins which the People navigate in battles and beyond.
The Farm was definitely interesting, I am just not sure yet about liking it.
Janine: I’m not a fan of the People either, their vampires are off-putting (they are supposed to be). But they serve an important purpose in the books.
The last part of the book takes place on a ship (hopefully not a spoiler). It’s not something we’ve seen before and the ocean/water magic stuff was cool. At one point Kate finds herself in a tight spot and the way she got out of that situation was great.
Sirius: I liked the ship, battle, and water being, yes. I always love the magic they bring to life in their books.
Janine: Another thing I liked was how Thomas’s view of Kate evolved. It was satisfying.
Sirius: One more thing which I not exactly did not like but which felt weird to me was the conversation with the teacher in the very beginning of the story. I liked it, it promised great things about Conlan in school and then it went nowhere, absolutely nowhere, so I was left wondering just why this conversation was a part of this story.
Janine: I think it was just there to establish that they had moved and were starting over, and that Kate was planning on a normal life but was (somewhat humorously) constitutionally incapable of leading one. But it would be cool if this became more of a plot point in a future book.
I forgot to say that the pacing and the balance of action with humor was just as excellent it usually is in their books. What’s your grade for the book, Sirius? It’s a B/B+ for me.
Sirius: I liked the pacing too. Heh, same grade for me, exactly the same.
I loved Magic Tides. Every moment was new and exciting. And I felt I read a different book than you both. First off Kate “has all the magic in the world” so she will always look young. Curran is one of the “First” both are extremely powerful people and their children will be too. If you remember Conlon was very advanced as a toddler, so eight years and coming from a very magical family, his maturity makes sense.
Jim in the very first book abandoned Kate in serious and dangerous situations for Pack business. And did it again and again. He has never shown loyalty to her no matter how many times she put herself on the line to aide him or the pack. I hate Jim. Hate him more than Hugh. At least Hugh owns his past, Jim does not. Curran speaking as he did was fantastic!
Keelan is explained perfectly I don’t get your opinion of him. He an ancient too.
This move to NC is so great. Kate is a sucker for a lost cause, but I felt she was able resist the temptations that brought her so much trouble with the different factions in Atlanta. In this book she manages to take down two big evils in her new home with a little help from Curran, Keelan’s crew and Paul’s family. The plotting was super and everything moved at a good pace for the novella format. I thought the Andrews gave so much to how everything will enfold and the challenges of living independently from their past in Atlanta. This book is a gift. Kate kicking ass was something I thought I would never have again so I am thrilled absolutely thrilled by this new beginning. My only criticism is it wasn’t long enough. A+
I am not sure the books we read were all that different both Janine and myself rated it pretty high , not as high as you did but we enjoyed it a lot too. We had some criticisms but we still enjoyed it . I am not going to be speaking for Janine but I am going to say with quite a lot of confidence that none of us took any issue with how Kate looks ? I know I have not . I agree that she has a lot of magic and it may help her to stay younger looking .
Again without speaking for Janine , I think she took an issue with how Kate’s mindset aged and I didn’t even do that – to me her looking and sounding seven years later was quite believable .
I have different Jim in my memory from earlier books but we all interpret books differently . Re Hugh I just want to be clear – it is not that I dispute that he owes what he did . It is just I don’t believe that every villain needs to be redeemed and his evil deeds from earlier books may have been explained away by the authors but the picture they painted of Hugh in the earlier books is just too vivid for me to forget . I will hold a grudge just for Aunt B’s murder alone probably forever :-)
@mel burns: First off, let me say I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. It’s wonderful to find an A+ read and I understand why so many readers have missed Kate. I only caught up on the last couple of books in the series and on the Hugh and Julie books very recently, so I didn’t have that experience of missing the books. I’m sure that affected my reading experience some. In fact I binge read Ilona Andrews last year, reading all of the Kinsmen series too, and the new Hidden Legacy book. So maybe I read too many close together; if I do that with any authors I start noticing ticks and getting a little less absorbed. But I only binged them because they are so good and usually dependable for me.
As was the case here. I really did enjoy the book–a B/B+ is an very good grade for me, I don’t give A’s and A-‘s lightly. Last year I had two (The Long Game and All This Could Be Different). Ruby Fever almost made my top ten of 2022; it held the #11 spot, and I gave it the exact same grade I gave this book, a B/B+.
With regard to Kate’s looks, well, I did say “Even if they don’t physically age,” in the review, thus acknowledging that they may not (it hasn’t been stated outright, and I wish it would be, but that is actually my assumption, that they don’t age physically). My issue was more that I didn’t feel the passage of time in most ways; I didn’t get the feeling that seven years had really passed. In Julie’s book I got that much more strongly, not just because she was older but also because she was altered, Atlanta was altered, and she felt more adult. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison though, because as Sirius said, people’s character doesn’t change much after age thirty.
With regard to Jim, I agree he was never great to Kate but I did feel that he was closer to Curran and the way he turned on them seems out of character to me precisely because he was always loyal to the pack and Curran. But we can agree to disagree on that one.
As far as Keelan, my feelings about him aren’t power related but personality related. He came across like a big kid to me, not like someone who thinks strategically which I think to be an Alpha you would need to be able to do.
@Sirius: Re Aunt B’s murder–that was horrible and I can’t recall Hugh’s side of it anymore (what was said about it in his book). But I feel that Kate’s killing of her own aunt was somewhat similarly mitigated with “well, Erra actually wanted to die and that was why she challenged Kate.”
Sometimes I wish there were a bit more complexity to characters in this series and I think that’s why I liked Hugh and Elara’s book as much as I did. I mean I thought too many of Hugh’s sins were explained away and that was a bit of an eye roller for me. But at the same time, I feel that Hugh and for that matter Elara are more shaded than most of the characters in IA books (Rogan and by the end of Wildfire, Nevada a little bit too, are also exceptions). It makes them more interesting to me. Then too I’ve always liked the redemption trope and so that’s a factor for me as well.
But beyond that, when we first really got to know Hugh in the KD book in Europe (I forgot what it was called but where Desandra was introduced and there was a stupid Big Mis), he was an extremely charismatic character almost immediately. I loved the scene where he and Kate dueled. So I had a lot of openness to seeing him redeemed just on that basis. But I wish he and his bad deeds hadn’t been whitewashed quite so much.
Hugh, IMO can never be forgiven or redeemed, because of Mishmar. There was a time fans were shipping he and Kate and I was disgusted. That said his book was very good, but I had a hard time putting aside my grievances. Killing Aunt Bee was awful but I was more upset about Adora’s death than the Bouda Alpha. I still feel after re-reading your review that we perceived the book differently and you two were a little nit-picky. But that’s the joy of book reading and discussion. Thanks for the review and feedback.
So I had some trepidation reading this because the Kate Daniels series was so strong and ended on such a great note, I didn’t want to read anything that would even tangentially taint my feelings about it. But I finally read it this and, whew! enjoyed it quite a bit. Kate and Curran were still Kate and Curran (thank goodness!). And even though they were in a different place with different people, there was enough familiar beats (The People, The Order, Kate’s insane deep knowledge of anything magical) that I felt right at home.
I agree with Janine that one of the highlights was seeing Thomas’ opinion of Kate evolve. Starting out with a ‘Well, can you even do, lady?’ to a ‘Well, daaaang… ok lady, now I see.” LOL. That is vintage Andrews where we get to witness Kate’s competence and also witness someone coming to the realization that she really is a badass.
Also loved getting Curran’s POV and witnessing his fathering techniques in action.
I wasn’t as thrown by Conlan’s acting older than his age mainly because of the way Curran talks to him and probably because of his relationship with Roland and no doubt the conversations he’s had with him. This is an eight year old who has seen some things. So him acting older tracks for me.
I love the quasi-sibling relationships that has evolved between Kate and Hugh and similarly Kate and Nick. I can forgive Hugh because he is written with some great complexity and whole lot of charm. And also he is a true anti-hero and also he is fictional. So I give him some grace. Also part of what makes it a little easier is that it was clear so much of what he did, he did when he was in thrall and that the compulsion to please Roland was not a thing to be underestimated. When the tether was cut, he made a lot of different choices. So the little scene was a nice energy boost and it is good that they are still in each others’ lives as found family and not antagonists. I am going to assume it is the same with Nick.
The Farm People were intriguingly different from the Casino People. I am intrigued.
My overall takeaway from this is that you can’t run away from yourself. Kate and Curran are trying to live a quiet life but that isn’t who they are. Curran will always be a Beast Lord. It isn’t just a title. Heck he’s building fortress for a home. He wanted a moat! Kate has a high protective instinct. She may not have claimed this city in the way she did Atlanta but by her actions she will find that she did stake a claim. And well, no matter what she is still Sharim. In one act they established themselves as a Power and an Alpha couple just like they were in Atlanta. They couldn’t help themselves, it is just who they are.
Overall I’d give this a B+/A-. It was fast paced, funny, action filled and thrilling. I needed more of a wrap up because I felt it ended too abruptly. But man, I am already waiting to what happens next with them.
Great comment, Tina. And great point about Curran’s fathering–that was a highlight for me too. I also thought it was interesting when Keelan, I think it was, told Conlan that a lot of people will be paying attention to him now.
I *so* agree with you regarding Hugh and Kate (of course I already said so but it bears repeating). That was one of the best scenes in the book for me. I agree that his antihero nature is a big part of why he’s so attention getting as a character, and yes, the charm too.
I have a theory with regard to Hugh that I think will be revealed in the Hugh/Elara book(s) but it’s really spoilery. Want to hear?
So glad you enjoyed the book!
@TinaNoir: I loved your comment too. I just wanted to mention that apparently next one is coming up in June or July as well. YAY.
Ooh, what is your theory about Hugh? I need to re-read his and Elara’s book before their next one comes out. The last one came out almost 4 years ago (when you count the COVID year that translates to almost 10 years! LOL) . But for real, I remember some high level stuff but that’s it, I do need to go back.
Thanks. It popped up in my email as a suggestion almost right after I review this one on my Goodreads and I SQUEED.
Okay so I’m pretty confident Hugh is Erra’s child. If you recall, toward the end of Iron and Magic, Hugh discovered that he could make a blood weapon on his own, without being bound to Roland. He even kind of confronts Roland with the ability when Roland has him and Roland takes a step back, like he’s literally a little afraid.
Then, in Julie’s book, Erra’s assassin (who has an unrequited crush on her) remarks that Erra wanted to die (when she sought Kate out) because she was devastated or depressed (something like that) and that was because Roland had lied to her and taken something precious from her. And the way he says this to Julie, he’s clearly angry about it and it seems like Julie knows what it is, but we readers don’t.
Finally, this all fits with why Julie calls Hugh “uncle” and Kate treats him like a member of her family, even going to visit him with Curran. One thing for her to forgive and accept him, but another to go visit.
I’m pretty positive I’m right!
END OF SPOILERS
I actually quite love that idea.
@TinaNoir: I do too.