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Monday, January 11, 2021

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website

Pre-order Blood Heir over HERE

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 several other series. They live in Texas with their children.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.

Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.

If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she'd ever loved could threaten everything.

One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.

FORMAT/INFO: Blood Heir is 352 pages long divided over eighteen chapters, and an epilogue. There’s also an interior art illustration as well as couple of Ryder extras. In this book, narration is in the first-person, exclusively via Aurelia RyderBlood Heir is the first volume of a potential new series set in the same world as Kate Daniels.

January 12, 2021 will marks the North American paperback and e-book publication of Blood Heir and it is being self-published by the authors themselves. Cover & interior illustration provided by Luisa Preissler.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Before we get to my review, I wish to thank Carole, Emma, Haifa, Lisa, Lynn, & Tadiana for agreeing to take part in this blog tour. Also a huge thank you to Ilona Andrews and Natanya W. for the ARCs and making it all so easy.  All six of my fellow bloggers were so generous with their time and you can check out all of their amazing reviews:

I’ve been a huge fan of Ilona Andrews’ writing and especially the Kate Daniels series. The series ended on a rather big note and while it ended satisfyingly. The world and characters were just so tantalizing, that at the back of my mind, I always wondered about the possibility of a sequel or a spinoff. Considering how horrid 2020 was going, the authors decided to start a small story for a healthcare worker as a way of saying thank you. That story thanks to all the fans has blossomed into this new standalone story and here we are.

The story is set eight years after the events of Magic Triumphs, we start with Aurelia Ryder who is returning for the first time to Atlanta. She’s someone whom the readers of the Kate Daniels series have met and know quite well. For the new readers, she goes by some of the following: “Dananu Edes-Shinar”, “Aurelia Ryder” “Dahanu”, etc. For the returning readers, we know her as Julie or Julia Olsen. She’s the adopted daughter of Kate Daniels and Curran Lennart and she’s been in the thick of things as we all know.

The story opens with her return to Atlanta as a prophecy forces her to come back. An ancient evil from Caananite mythology has arisen and threatens Aurelia’s loved ones. The threat is so severe and insidious that she has several limitations placed on what she can reveal and who she can reveal it to. Her arrival coincides with a brutal murder of a priest that has put the city’s legal bureaucracy in a tizzy. Told by an oracle that the murder and the prophecy might be connected. Aurelia races head first into a post-Kate Daniels Atlanta where everything old is new again.

I must say I was super-duper excited for this new book and more than a bit worried because of the following:
- How would it stack up against the Kate Daniels saga which I love so much?
- I liked Julie but was worried whether she would be able to carry a book solely on her own shoulders?
- Would the authors be able to replicate their magic in this sequel and not make it derivative?

All of these questions and more swirled around in my head and I can gladly proclaim that all of them and more were deftly and resolutely handled. The main reason why I believe this book (and series, more on this later) will be a big hit is because of our protagonist. Aurelia Ryder (or Julie) is back and she has been transformed in more ways than one. As seen on the cover & an in an interior illustration (masterfully illustrated by Luisa Preissler), Aurelia Ryder Dananu Edes-Shinar” is the princess of New Shinar and a badass who can hold her own both on the martial and magical fronts. While in her mind, she’s Julie of the old, but on a magical and physical level, she’s levelled up (read and find out how).

Her narrative voice is distinct from Kate’s snarky one but still has enough bite to keep the readers chuckling along. With her being the main protagonist, the reader is given a lot of background into previous events and characters (whom she meets as Aurelia) organically without it feeling like an infodump over and over again. This I want to highlight for the new readers who might be hesitant to start this book, without having read the previous ten book long Kate Daniels saga. There’s enough information provided in this story, for it to be a perfect starting point for new readers. Whereas for us returning readers, it’s a veritable gold mine as we get to see what has happened within the past 8 years in an abbreviated manner. I also want to know more about whether what Julie currently feels and thinks is entirely of her own mind or if she’s being subconsciously brainwashed.

The book reminded me a lot of Magic Burns with its mix of mystery procedural and epic fantasy event simmering in the background. The plot focusses on the murder mystery primarily as Aurelia/Julie is trying to find out the how and why of it discreetly. But her main goal is to prevent the prophecy as told by the witch’s oracle and that is her Everest. All of her actions and her energy are spent to prevent its fruition. I’m sure new readers will love this plot as well as the kinetic action sequences that we have known and come to love. Blood Heir also has its full of magical action so the readers looking for those components get their hearts content and for those looking for a little bit of romance, will find that there’s something of that persuasion too. Previous readers know who Julie was besotted with and here we find out what happened next. In this book, we get a solid inkling of the road ahead. Hashtag #MetalRose.

This book has two solid shockers within and even to hint at them will be spoilerific, so I won’t. Also another thing which I loved within this volume was how the city and characters have progressed after the events over a decade ago. The Pack politics is even more complicated and now some of our favourite side characters might be even more entangled.  There’s also new characters who are soon to become fan favourites. Lastly I want to highlight that the authors introduced a very minor but utmost heroic character and I desperately want to see more of him in the potential sequels.

Lastly I’ve to say while this is a standalone story and the authors have said that they aren’t sure of whether this can be a series or not. I sincerely hope that they make this a four/six book series. There’s just too many interesting threads, characters and situations introduced that us readers (both old and new) will want to read more about. The book’s ending while giving us a complete resolution to the mystery plot, leaves us with a solid appetizing taste on the epic fantasy one. There’s just no way I’m not coming back.

With regards to this book, for me there were no drawbacks. It was solidly written, had a great protagonist, the dialogue was snappy. The action was cinematic and fun to read about and the magic and mythology are exploding from everywhere.

CONCLUSION: As the New Year begins, Blood Heir is just what the doctor ordered,. Welcome to a magical Atlanta where the welcome sign says “Welcome..... & get the fireballs ready”. Ilona Andrews have assembled a near perfect opening for a new saga, and are welcoming you to come along for a crazy, unpredictable ride. I’m in, what say you….



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