Published 2008 260 pages
Summary (from book jacket)
As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.
When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta's paramilitary clan of shape shifters, she quickly realizes much more is at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic-tug-of war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can't stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…
Magic Burns is the second novel by husband and wife writing team Gordon and Ilona Andrews (writing under the name of Ilona Andrews) and is the sequel to their fantastic debut novel Magic Bites. Like Magic Bites, Magic Burns exists at the furthest fantasy edge of the urban fantasy spectrum. The book is set in Atlanta but this is an Atlanta that has been almost destroyed by magic, so unlike most urban fantasy novels this setting isn’t our world with vampires or magic included but is an alternative world altogether.
Magic Burns continues the adventures of Kate Daniels a sword wielding mercenary and bounty hunter who, following on from events in Magic Bites, now also works as a liaison between the Mercenary Guild and the Order of Merciful Aid. If you haven’t yet read Magic Bites I would recommend reading it first since events in Magic Burns follow on directly from Magic Bites. Also throughout Magic Burns, Kate refers to the secrets of her blood and power but the secret isn’t explained in this story – although it was mentioned/discovered in the first book. (Magic Bites is also a fantastically good fantasy read too – so you don’t want to miss it.)
Magic Burns is narrated in first person by Kate, whose dark humour infuses the story-telling from the start of the book through to the very last pages. Kate drops the reader straight into the action from the opening pages of the novel as she takes on a mercenary job to bring in a deranged arsonist who is setting fires all over Atlanta. She then pulls the reader along for the ride as she takes on sea-demons, reeves and an ancient would-be Celtic god - all of them wanting to take advantage of the increase in magical activity, using it to bring themselves over from the otherworld and make themselves flesh.
Celtic mythology plays a large part in this story, with the reeves proving to be a dangerous undead opponent for both The People (vampires controlled by necromancers) and the shapeshifters led by Curran, the Beast Lord. The reeves are probably best described as undead mermaids, with long prehensile hair and poisonous claws and teeth.
Like Magic Bites, Magic Burns is a short novel topping out at only 260 pages but the author has made every page count, condensing a huge amount of magic, fights, adventure and monsters in that short space. There is even a grand battle scene finale and a touch of romance… All of this serves to keep the reader engaged and entertained from story start to finish although the frantic pacing of the novel doesn’t leave much time for characterisation and some of the characters have suffered as a result.
Good news, Ilona Andrews has been contracted to write books 3 and 4 in this series, so this won’t be the last readers that see of Kate Daniels. It will be interesting where this imaginative series goes next.
Dark fantasy fans take note: If you enjoy Laurell K. Hamilton’s early Anita Blake or the works of Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison you need to add Ilona Andrews to your reading list.
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