7 Rated Books Book Reviews

Book Review: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Slays

Author: Ilona Andrews

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Ace
Publication date: May 2011
Paperback: 308 pages

Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . . .

Stand alone or series: Book 5 in the ongoing Kate Daniels series

How did I get this book: ARC from the publisher

Why did I read this book: I am a big fan of Kate Daniels – each book in the series keeps getting better. I’m actually ashamed of how long it took me to finally come around and read this book.

**WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS UNAVOIDABLE SPOILERS FOR BOOKS 1-4 IN THE KATE DANIELS SERIES. If you haven’t read books 1-4 and wish to remain unspoiled, you really should look away. Now.**


As usual, Magic Slays finds Kate Daniels in the middle of a whole mess of trouble. Having successfully killed her aunt (a gleefully sadistic and power-crazed Goddess), and navigated Pack politics by accepting her role as official mate to His Furriness, Kate’s life is about as normal as it could possibly be. She sets up shop (Cutting Edge Investigations) and finally gets her first client – which immediately throws her life back into its usual state of chaos. Her new customers are the famous Red Guard – the best bodyguards in Atlanta – who have somehow lost their charge, noted scientist Adam Kaman. Given the difficult task of returning Kaman and the super sekrit device he was working on to the Red Guard, Kate, bff Andrea, and loyal attack poodle Grendel get right on the case. Of course even the most straightforward cases are never quite as simple as they seem in post-Shift Atlanta, and Kate and company find themselves back in the thick of danger with magical wards inexplicably disappearing, rogue vampires, renegade shifters, and the terrifying truth of Kaman’s device’s capabilities. Added to the drama of an impending doomsday, Kate also has to grapple with the troublesome antics of her ward Julie at boarding school and relationship/trust issues with Curran, especially after she learns more about her past.

Any fan of long-running series’ knows that sometimes, new entries fall short of the mark. They’re still good books, but are…well, filler. This is how I feel about Magic Slays. Sure it’s enjoyable, and it’s always cool to get more Kate, but ultimately this book does little to advance the exciting overall series arc (will she throw down with her pops already!? Yeesh), and features a throwaway central conflict.[1. I mean, honestly, the big bad threat was neutralized in less than a chapter. Not really inspiring there.] That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Magic Slays, because I did – this series is so great that even a filler novel is excellent. This latest adventure is fun, with more of Kate being a badass and getting into fights and learning to harness her magic. There is overall progression to the story arc, but it’s so frustratingly minimal that it felt as though Andrews is stretching out the central series conflict and saving all the good stuff for the next book or two. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, the good. I loved that Kate and Curran are finally in a relationship and that they’ve accepted each other and have gotten over their baggage.[2. Mostly. There’s one point where I was terrified that Kate would do that whole backwards slide into paranoia thing, but thankfully that was averted.] This is also a scary point in UF land (or TV land) – because once the sexual tension is quenched, there’s the question of whether or not the couple will remain relevant and interesting. Thankfully, this relationship is handled wonderfully by the Ilona Andrews team, and Kate and Curran have a relationship that makes sense and is just as awesome as it was when they were in the courtship stage.

I also loved the revelations (albeit few) we get in this book regarding Kate’s family and past. We meet another of Kate’s relatives, and she’s forced into learning the heartbreaking truth of her mother and surrogate father. Also, Kate’s forced into a tough decision regarding her “kid” Julie, which in turn forces her to come even more to terms with her blood magic. This development has HUGE repercussions, and I am very excited to see what happens in the next book.

But, then there’s also the bad. Magic Slays gets off to a slow start, and I’m calling a spade a spade and saying that the central conflict for this novel was kinda lame. There’s a disappearing doctor/inventor and a Mysterious Device of DOOM, and both of these are rather easily dealt with when the main characters put their minds to it (again, ONE CHAPTER for the “epic battle”). The book is not poorly written, but given how awesome and high-stakes earlier conflicts have been, the Mysterious Device of DOOM and Disappearing Doctor are a little…well, insubstantial.[3. Not to mention the fact that I’m not sure the worldbuilding/rules make sense in that final showdown – if anyone has read the book and wants to discuss in the comments, feel free! But mark with spoiler tags, please.] In fact, the real catalyst for this plot was from a secondary conflict, involving a bitter wereminx out for blood. It’s the actions of this rogue shifter that propels the story and series at large along, and that doesn’t even happen until after the midway mark.

Criticisms said, the book ends on a dramatic note with the promise of all the Big Things I desperately want to see addressed in the next installment. Though Magic Slays is a bit of a series filler novel, it’s enjoyable enough and obviously essential reading for the Kate Daniels fan. I’ll be back for more.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From the prologue:

The ringing of the phone jerked me from my sleep. I clawed my eyes open and rolled off my bed. For some reason, someone had moved the floor several feet lower than I had expected, and I fell and crashed with a thud.


A blond head popped over the side of the bed and a familiar male voice asked, “Are you okay down there?”

Curran. The Beast Lord was in my bed. No, wait a minute, I didn’t have a bed, because my insane aunt had destroyed my apartment. I was mated to the Beast Lord, which meant I was in the Keep, in Curran’s rooms and in his bed. Our bed. Which was four feet high. Right.


“I’m fine.”

“Would you like me to install one of those child playground slides for you?”

I flipped him off and picked up the phone. “Yes?”

“Good morning, Consort,” a female voice said.

Consort? That was new. Usually the shapeshifters called me Alpha or Lady, and occasionally Mate. Being called Mate ranked somewhere between drinking sour milk and getting a root canal on my list of Things I Hated, so most people had learned to avoid that one.

“I have Assistant Principal Parker on the line. He says it’s urgent.”

Julie. “I’ll take it.”

You can read the full excerpt online HERE.

Rating: 7 – Very Good


Buy the Book:

Ebook available for kindle US, nook, google, kobo, & sony

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  • Estara
    August 16, 2011 at 2:11 am


    I agree with you about the obvious action threat being rather flimsy later on – although the potential of destruction was obviously huge and that’s why the fiddled around so carefully.

    But the revelations about Kate’s mother were absolutely necessary and the introduction of people who can help her with the blood magic, too – especially if – as you say – the big showdown may start in the next book. She also needed to hear Curran articulating her importance to him out loud – because she is not the most subtle of people and needs this.

    And then the development with Julie… I think this is a huge personal problem which I can’t see the end of, and the family revelations and developments were probably the true meat of the book. I quite like that.

    But then I could easily read slice-of-life adventures in Kateland all the time ^^.

  • Thea
    August 16, 2011 at 6:08 am


    Hehe. Estara, I completely agree that the revelations in this book (especially concerning Kate and her mother, and the developments with the coven/Baba Yaga) were 100% necessary and really cool. My quibble is…did this need to be in a separate book with such a weak throwaway conflict? I know the nature of long-running series’ inevitably means that there will be some necessary filler in order to set the stage for the next book (in which those cool revelations will finally mean BIG ACTION), but it annoys me. I’m greedy, what can I say? I think that every Kate Daniels book to date (besides, perhaps, the first book) has balanced revelations with essential, strong plotting. This was the first book in the series to fall short with regards to that second criterion.

    Of course, Illona Andrews is/are so awesome that Magic Slays was STILL a fabulous read. It’s just not at the same level as the books that came before it. In my opinion, of course.

  • MarieC
    August 16, 2011 at 7:35 am

    I totally agree with you all. This story, while still pretty awesome, was more ‘Empire Strikes Back’ than I would have like. Of course, this is still much better than some other books. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the next book!

  • Estara
    August 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

    @Thea and MarieC: All of them even book 1, which on re-read makes perfect sense in the standoffishness of Kate, I’ve rated equally high (4 out of 5 stars) – so there’s just a sense of different tastes of my palate being served ^^.

    But I can see where you’re coming from, both of you. And I strongly want the Andrews to be allowed more words! 400 or 450 pages… ^^

  • Cathy
    August 16, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I agree with most of your assessment. Personally, I’ve tagged Slays as the “relationship” book in the series – Kate needs to be in a very solid place emotionally before taking on Hugh and/or Roland, and this was the book to establish all that. The Device of Doom was very throwaway, but I think having a genuine Big Bad would’ve made the book feel too crowded and would’ve subtracted from the family issues Kate was sorting out.

    This definitely wasn’t my favorite Kate book, but for now I’m assuming it’s the foundation for what (I’m hoping) will be the massive conflicts of books 6 and 7, so I’m waiting to pass judgement until I can view it in the light of the whole series. Which, I say with great impatience, can’t come soon enough!

  • Estara
    August 16, 2011 at 11:30 am

    By the way everyone – from what the Andrews’ blog has said we will be getting Andrea’s book in between this and the next pure Kate Daniels, because certain developments in this book mean the resolution of Andrea’s book has to come BEFORE the next step can happen.

    But at least Andrea will be getting a full book, not just a novella!

    I welcome this development.

  • Thea
    August 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    MarieC – You know, the thing is I actually love middle books when they are done well. Empire is (like many folks) my favorite of the Star Wars films, Two Towers is my favorite of LotR, Aliens is better than Alien…but I digress! I am with you on wishing this book had just a little more oomf to it. Part of that also stems from how slowly the novel starts off, too.

    BUT there’s not a doubt in my mind that the next book(s) will be badass.

    Cathy – A very fair assessment. I am with you all the way! This wasn’t my favorite of the series by a long shot, but it was still very, very good and as Estara says, the revelations were necessary. I like your take on this being the “relationship” book – that makes a lot of sense.

    And yes, bring it on, book 6!

    Estara – OMG I had no idea that Andrea would be getting a book! YAY!!!! I, too, welcome this development!

  • Kristen
    August 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I agree, I felt that while this was still a very entertaining book with some great moments (especially that ending!) it seemed like filler. It did start out slowly and while each previous book had built on the big plot arc, this one didn’t have much about it – until the end. But I’m going to guess with the way it ended that there will be some awesome developments with the big arc in the next book. It wasn’t my least favorite in the series since I still preferred it to the first book, but I didn’t like it as much as 3 or 4.

    I don’t know how I’m going to wait two years for the next book instead of the usual one, though.

  • KarenS
    August 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I’ll have to pull my copy off the shelf and reread the ending since I don’t remember it. While reading your review, I couldn’t even remember the missing scientist! That could say more about me than the book, but I did feel this was my least favorite in the series.

    I had no idea we have to wait 2 years for a new Kate book! I like Andrea a lot, but as a supporting character. I can’t say I’m looking forward to reading a book about her, especially if it’s replacing a Kate book.

  • Kristen
    August 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I’m with you, Karen – I’d much rather have a new Kate book than a book about Andrea! There’s going to be a book about Jim and Dali after Kate 6 so we’ll have to wait extra for Kate 7, too. That wait just might be torture…

  • Tina
    August 16, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    @ KarenS and Kristen: I agree. I like Andrea a lot, but I’m not sure I want to read a book where she is a narrator if it means delaying a Kate book. However, it could be really interesting to see Kate from an outside point of view, especially that of her best friend.

    I had no idea there was going to be a Jim and Dali book! I might actually be willing to wait for Kate 7 in order to read that… I love both of their characters and was sad that neither of them got much page time in Magic Slays.

  • Estara
    August 17, 2011 at 3:26 am

    @Tina: Tina, you DO know that there is already a Jim and Dali short story out in the anthology HEXED, don’t you? The proposed Jim & Dali book would be in addition to that.

    Personally, whether they call the books Andrea and Jim & Dali or Kate Daniels, I just want more of this world and these people. 😉

  • Review: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews « Bunbury in the Stacks
    August 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    […] – “Magic Slays is a rocking good time. Crunchy Kate goodness at its best.” The Booksmugglers – “Though Magic Slays is a bit of a series filler novel, it’s enjoyable enough and […]

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