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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read the first two chapters HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Magic Bites” & “Magic Burns
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Magic Strikes” & “Magic Mourns
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Magic Bleeds” & “A Questionable Client
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Magic Slays” & “Magic Dreams
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Magic Rises"
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of "Retribution Clause" & "Magic Tests"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Gunmetal Magic" & "Magic Gifts"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Magic Breaks"
Read Fantasy Book Critic’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.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: 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.

FORMAT/INFO: Magic Shifts is 352 pages long divided over twenty-two chapters, and an epilogue. In this book, narration is in the first-person, exclusively via Kate Daniels. Magic Shifts is the eighth volume of the series, therefore it would be very inadvisable to jump in to the series from this point.

August 4, 2015 marks the North American hardback and e-book publication of Magic Shifts via Ace Books. Cover art provided by Juliana Kolesova.

ANALYSIS: The Kate Daniels series has slowly and surely gained a cult following of sorts and I happen to be one of those fans that eagerly await each new adventure that Kate, Curran and the rest face. This book was one of my must-read titles for 2015 and I was very eager to see where the authors would take the series. Especially after the events of Magic Breaks and with Roland's reappearance, things are never going to be the same in Atlanta. There will be mild spoilers for the previous title/s in the review below so please be careful and avoid the following review if you don't wish to be spoiled.

The plot begins with Kate and Curran having taken a step up in their relationship and a step down from their official status of the Pack. Things are slowly turning a little less crazy now that they no longer are the Beast Lord & the Consort. Their lives are settling down and Kate is going back to her mercenary status while Curran is trying to figure out what new project he wants to pick up next. However readers of the series know that things are never sane in the Lennart-Daniels household and lo and behold, Kate is forced to take an extra interest in the Mercenary Guild which seems to be falling apart due to politics and internal bickering.

Already pissed off at political machinations which seem to have crippled its functioning, Kate & Curran however have to try to hold it together and also are beseeched to find out Eduardo the werebuffalo by his beloved. Taking up this task as Kate values Eduardo’s quiet nature and his assistance in the past. Kate and Curran find that there’s more to Eduardo’s disappearance than just his last few jobs with the mercenary guild. There's also the mighty displeased father of his girlfriend. There’s also the mysterious past and not to mention something strange afoot in the city of Atlanta.

As with any Kate Daniels story, this one also has bunch of action, terrific plot twists and an streamlined plot that will have readers racing all the way till the end. This book is kind of a new beginning of sorts, especially with all that happened in Magic Breaks. Primarily with the return of Roland, his recognizing Kate as his daughter and Kate’s owning of Atlanta as her own. That ended the first arc of Kate’s story and with this book; we get the second arc wherein readers know all about Kate, Curran and what is at stake with Roland’s reappearance. This time around, the plot is more of a strong mystery unlike the last few books, which were more thriller-oriented.

The central plotline deals with Eduardo’s disappearance and Kate’s mission to find him. I enjoyed this turn and also the fact a completely new mythology is introduced in this storyline. This is an absolutely fascinating way wherein many different mythologies co-exist within the world a la the real world. The authors are pioneering their way with this, sure there have been a couple of other authors like Kevin Hearne, and Liz Williams who have done so. But with Ilona Andrews, they take things to whole new level and their world and magic systems are so much more enmeshed. This book explores Islamic mythos from the Middle Eastern nations and overall it fits nicely within this post-apocalyptic world.

One more fascinating thing is the scientific explanations that the authors endorse towards certain magic happenings. Previously they explained the were-changing in a fascinating way and here they do the same with the Djinn-Afrit type of creatures. Overall I’m simply enamored as to how they also manage to explain these magic systems so convincingly. Sure there’s a pattern to be found but because the story is so enthusiastically written and the characterization so terrific, one doesn’t mind reading about them. There’s a whole new angle explored and we get to see a new couple in the making. This is what makes this series fresh, no characters stay the same, even those couples that have been through it all such Kate-Curran, Andrea-Ralph, and there’s newer shades of characters that are revealed such as my favorite Saiman who finally shows some sense but takes a decision that will set him on to a horrid path.

CONCLUSION: Magic Shifts is a tremendous shift in the status quo of this fantastic series. It was already awesome and yet the authors found a way to keep it refreshing and once again prove why they and not Jim Butcher deserve the title of champions of the urban fantasy sub-genre.



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