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Monday, July 16, 2012

GunMetal Magic by Ilona Andrews w/ Bonus Review of Magic Gifts (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order Gunmetal Magic HERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read FBC’s Review of “Magic Bites” & “Magic Burns
Read FBC’s Review of “Magic Strikes” & “Magic Mourns
Read FBC’s Review of “Magic Bleeds” & “A Questionable Client
Read FBC’s Review of “Magic Slays” & “Magic Dreams
Read FBC's Review of "Retribution Clause" & "Magic Tests"
Read FBC’s Interview with Ilona Andrews

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for the husband-and-wife writing team of Ilona Gordon & Andrew Gordon. Together, Andrew and Ilona are the co-authors of the New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels urban fantasy series and the romantic urban fantasy novels of The Edge. They live in Texas with their children

BOOK BLURB: Some people have everything figured out—Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is to try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend Kate Daniels.

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano—the male alpha of the Clan Bouda and Andrea’s former lover—die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate…and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, she knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a back seat to saving the world…

FORMAT/INFO: Gunmetal Magic is 326 pages long divided over fifteen chapters, and an epilogue. In this book, narration is in the first-person, exclusively via Andrea Nash. Gunmetal Magic has a self-contained plot with a complete resolution however readers need to know there are many references to people and events from the previous volumes which can cause some confusion. This book though can be read as a standalone.

July 31, 2011 marks the North American Mass Market Paperback publication of Gunmetal Magic via Ace Books. Cover art provided by Tony Mauro.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Gunmetal Magic is an odd book of sorts; its set in the Kate Daniels universe however is not entirely part of the main Kate Daniels books. It is in line with the series continuity but features Andrea Nash as the main narrator. This change in scheduling was covered in these two posts HERE and HERE, and also the authors announced a novella that was to run concurrently with the events of this book. Thus the book and novella were to come out together with its release so as to give the readers a stronger, action packed story and with Kate as a narrator though in the smaller format.

Let’s begin with Gunmetal Magic, it’s an Andrea Nash novel and Andrea has been an important character in Kate’s journey so far. She began as a minor character whose role was exponentially increased; she was also the first side character to get a short story of her own (Magic Mourns) which coincidentally was also the first short story written by Ilona Andrews for this series. In book 4 (Magic Bleeds) though a crucial event occurred that changed Andrea’s dynamics and also lead to a partial absence in book 5 (Magic Slays). These events were very well explained in book 5 (Magic Slays) but in this book we get to see exactly why and what spurred Andrea on to do things the way she did. The book begins with Andrea reliving a particular nightmare and it reveals things about her past that readers have not been privy to so far. Soon however she gets hired to undertake an investigation for a private company that makes it doubly difficult for her as it involves Raphael her ex-boyfriend.

Forced to be professional and sensible at the same time, things she has been separately but never together, leads Andrea to a new phase wherein she has to be both and to add to her troubles, take Ascanio under her wing as well. A herculean task if there was one, and to top it all Raphael still hasn’t forgiven or forgotten their past. Things soon go southward as they often do and Andrea will have to solve this case on her own as Kate & Curran seem to be embroiled in a mire that is equally troubling.

This one-off book is a very curious thing, very few writers write with a complete and thorough series plan in mind and often successful writers are pushed by their publishers to write sequel/prequel/sidequel series featuring other characters. I don’t think such is the case with Gunmetal Magic, having a crucial character facing down certain things in her past to make a future book plot work, makes sense and is the explanation offered by the authors. The other thing is the change of voice, namely Andrea as the narrator, is a bit similar to Kate to offer succor to the returning readers however has some uniqueness of her own, thereby not to be confused as a complete Kate clone. The authors must have been very concerned about this as they make every effort to keep Andrea’s voice and identity distinct from Kate, even though she’s probably as accomplished a warrior as Kate is, and similarly headstrong though not to the same degree. 

The story plot is similar to the first magic book with a strong mystery at its heart but since the previous years the authors have polished their craft and streamlined the story to run parallel to the events of the Kate & Curran novella and thereby keeping the reader on their toes. The author also utilize a new mythology as well as a new villain in their myriad world and for this I have to applaud them thoroughly, their world is now very similar to ours with the all the mythologies and history running parallel to each other. Readers will get to see newer sights in Atlanta and so the authors further expand their worldbuilding repertoire. The readers will surely appreciate this new turn of events and keener minds will of course be trying to discern what this specific tale will mean for the overall saga and for the forthcoming fight between daughter and father. 

With series books, it can be either hit or miss with the expectation factor and it’s to the credit of the brains behind this enterprise that they strive to include new twists and stories to keep the readers engaged. Readers familiar with the short story “Magic Mourns” will be glad to know that there’s a complete plot and thematic resolution at the end of this book. Andrea’s transformation as a character was a treat to read and will be worth watching how it comes into play in the future books. This was a huge plus point for me in terms of the book as this means when Kate 6 comes out, we’ll be seeing the real issues come forward and perhaps it will be the penultimate book to usher in the end fight that we(all fans) have been clamoring to read about.

CONCLUSION: Ilona Andrews have heard these words thousands of times before from many thousands of reader, fans & critics alike, but I have to reiterate "they are terrific storytellers". They imbue the story with interesting characters, striking dialogue and above all amazing action sequences. This troika of plot features along with the author traits never fails to amaze me and keep me entertained through out. Gunmetal Magic is both a successful one-off and great continuation in the Kate Daniels series. I heartily recommend jumping on this book for all veteran and newbie readers as it gives a terrific look into the narrative style of the authors as well as provide thorough entertainment, now that’s something you can’t say for every book.

Read an excerpt HERE 

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Magic Gifts is the Kate and Curran novella that runs in tandem with the events of Gunmetal Magic. It can be read either as a companion story as well as a solo one, the choice is upon the reader. The novella was distributed free by the authors and is now combined in the paperback version of Gunmetal Magic . The novella is about 110-odd pages and features Kate as its sole narrator. 

The story opens with Kate and Curran arriving in the Cutting Edge office wherein Curran decides to take her out on a date. The restaurant they go to is a classy one and as they are enjoying their food. A neighboring table of two navigators has a fatal accident wherein vampires get involved. Things soon bloody and leave a boy with a very curious but fatal problem hanging around his neck. Kate and Curran being the people that they are intervene and then are involved into a situation of a different sort. 

The novella is an excellent addition to this book, namely that returning readers get to see Kate do what she does best but this time Curran gets an increased role and more page time. This story while having its share of action has a more mysterious feel attached to it. The main duo has to deal with events but they are hampered by a clock of sorts and this just raises the stakes in this novella. There are some introspective elements to this story namely the fact that Kate’s body has been suffering damage all this while and now some of the after-effects have started showing. This underlines a crucial mortality to the superwoman that is Kate and while Curran does have his moments he also gets to show a more sensible side to him as well. 

In this small novella the authors's ingenious use of mythology as well their interpretation of Vikings, will have readers a bit bemused as well chuckling from time to time whenever the Vikings come on the fore of the story. Short and action packed, this novella is a microcosm of the normal Kate Daniels novels and a great continuation of the overall plot-line so far. Very much recommended for regular readers, however for new readers this might not be a good place to start the story as there are background effects that affect the twists of the plot. Best to start with Magic Bites and discover Kate Daniels as the authors intended.


Anonymous said...

I cannot be more jealous. They are consistently my favorite authors. I am glad they continue to heighten their game.

mobb said...

will add this to my list:D

The Reader said...

@ Anon. & Mobb

Glad to hear it. Gunmetal Magic is definitely a treat to read and now I can't wait to see what happens in Kate 6. The authors have also posted an excerpt previously, that serves to increase the anticipation.


Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I do look forward to reading this one. I have liked Andrea in the series, so very curious and happy to see her get her own book. Thank you for the thoughts on this one.

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