Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)

by Ilona Andrews

3.59 of 5 stars 34 ratings • 19 reviews • 59 shelved
Book cover for Magic Bites

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Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)

by Ilona Andrews

3.59 of 5 stars 34 ratings • 19 reviews • 59 shelved
Ilona Andrews invites you to experience the first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring the intriguing fantasy world of mercenary Kate Daniels…

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way...
  • ISBN10 0441014895
  • ISBN13 9780441014897
  • Publish Date 27 March 2007 (first published 1 March 2007)
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publish Country US
  • Publisher Penguin Putnam Inc
  • Imprint Ace Books
  • Format Paperback (US Mass Market)
  • Pages 352
  • Language English


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Update 1/25/21: I finally started my re-read of this series, in actual book form this time, and I see my original frustration. Coming in again after reading the entire series, I am well versed in the world building, the characters and connections between them. This time I was able to focus on the nuances of Kate meeting the shifters and dealing with finding the magical villain of this story. I also didn't remember that this book called them shapechangers instead shapshifters. I still wouldn't recommend starting with the audiobooks. While they are well done, it is too much information overload for trying to do anything but pay attention to the story. This is one of my favorite series and favorite authors so it is definitely worth spending the time to immerse yourself in their world.


So far I am developing a bit of a love/hate with this series. I love the world building. The idea of the magic flowing in and out like a tide is creative, original and opens up the series for all kinds of interesting things. But some of the other world building is much more complex and I felt so flooded with information that I lost my overall enjoyment of the story. I am certainly not ready to give up on the series, but I am not ready to scream “drop everything else and read this.”
This is my second Ilona Andrews story from this series. I had previously read the novella in the anthology Night Shift. This didn’t feature the main character, Kate Daniels, but two of her friends, Jim and Dali. I liked both of these characters right away. I also read the pre-series novella, A Questionable Client, which was an interesting story and a set up for a character that keeps appearing. I don’t know that I would have understood Kate’s relationship with him unless I had read the novella first.

After Jim and Dali catch my interest, I had to read more of the series and this being an Urban Fantasy, I know it is important to start from the beginning to keep up with the growth of the characters.

In this series, Kate Daniels is a Merc for the Guild. She earns money collecting a sort of bounty put out on rouge…whatevers–werewolves, witches or any of the many characters Ilona Andrews has created or pulled out of obscure legends from different cultures. I believe this is most of my hate of this series. Ilona Andrews pulls out such obscure creatures, and while she does go into detail and explain what culture the creature stems from and all the dangers, etc., it becomes way too much of a history lesson and way too much distraction while still trying to get to know the main characters of this new world. Even vampires aren’t simply vampires. They are vessels which are “piloted” by a necromancer like someone would use an iphone to pilot a drone. The necromancer does a mind-meld with the vampires and sees out of their eyes and controls their actions. Kill the vampire while the pilot is still mentally attached and you can kill the pilot as well. They are particularly creepy.

Getting back to the story, Kate is a Merc and she carries a sword she calls “Slayer.” In this first story, she finds out that the man who raised her after her parents’ deaths was killed and she takes on the case to find out what happened to him. Greg Feldman was a Knight-diviner for the Orders of the Knights of Merciful Aid. These Knights do mostly what Kate does, but they have more rules and they are more of a free service for those who need help, but cannot pay. Kate originally went to their training system until she decided she couldn’t live within their rules and so she became a merc.

During her travels she meets, and pisses off, Curran who is the Beast Lord and rules all the shapechangers. He is quite scary and while flexing his regal muscles trying to cow Kate, she fights back by using magic and controlling one of his own werewolves. This embarrasses Curran before his people, his own fault for pushing Kate’s buttons, but this does not bode well for their working relationship. Curran also sends the young wolf she embarrassed to work with Kate and to protect her, both as a punishment and to remove him in case others would see Kate’s control over him as a sign of the kid’s weakness.

As Kate hunts down the killer, we learn more about the new world that is affected by waves of magic which move in and out like a tide and how it has changed the world that we know.

As the main character, Kate not only uses her sword, but has inherited some ability to wield magic from her parents, and we find she burns the bandages whenever she is hurt so no one can figure out what she actually is. She has control of some words of power and if she comes across one, not being able to control it could kill her. Where Kate and her power fits into this world is a tightly held mystery in this series.

I am not ready to give up and I have finished book 2 as well, which we will discuss that more tomorrow. I am not certain if my problem comes from too much information being flooded at me at once since we have the whole world building as well as all these obscure legends, or if it is the fact that it is too much information to take in on an audiobook format. When I am listening to an audiobook, I am driving. I am working. I am cleaning the house. When I sit and read, that is all I am doing. Focusing on what is in front of me. Is it simply the fact that this is too complex world building for audiobooks, at least in the first few set up stories? I listened to several Urban Fantasy series by audiobook but nothing this complex. In the Mercy Thompson, werewolves are werewolves, vampires are vampire, and only the fae require a more complex explanation. But we know Mercy is a mechanic, no more explanation is necessary for her job, and it takes place in the here and now.

I usually use audiobooks to catch up with a series that is so far in because I don’t have enough time for reading a block of books. The eighth book in the series was just released last month and there are at least seven novellas and short stories. I was offered a review copy of Book 8, but I declined since I am no where near ready to read that. I might just try picking up a digital copy of book 3, Magic Strikes, rather than the audiobook to see if I have an easier time with the flood of information. I am also more versed in the Kate Daniels universe after two books and the novellas and that might also make it easier to follow along.

So far, I definitely have a love/hate with Kate Daniels and friends. They are growing on me but the obscure legends and characters that Ilona Andrews develops in this story are starting to give me a headache.

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Rowena 3 of 5 stars
This book started off really slow and I felt like I was waiting forever and two days for something to actually happen. I'm glad that I stuck with it because I ended up enjoying the story. This world that Andrews created is colorful and it's complex and I'm mighty curious to see what happens next with our kickass heroine, Kate Daniels.

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Mercy 3 of 5 stars
Wow. I just finished this and I'm still slighty impressed because I did like it. Don't get me wrong. It makes me happy that I liked it as I did but I was told that this was the worst in the series and as I haven't read an urban fantasy/paranormal book for ages, my expectatives were quite low. But surprise! It was good! (Sana and Steph, if you read this, thank you for making me interested in reading those because I can see myself as a future die hard fan like you both).

I don't want to think much today so I will just write a list of what I liked:

1. Kate: she's so straightforward and sarcastic and she doesn't give a fuck about anyone. I also liked the mistery about her power and I'm dying to find out more.
2. Worlbuilding: I mean, there's not much and some things were just throwed at me without explanation and I was very confused at the beginning but I liked what the authors did with the magic and technology and I hope to learn more in the future.
3. This is really an urban fantasy novel, not a romance novel with urban fantasy elements. I still can't believe the little importance romance had in this one and although the sexual tension between characters was so good to read, there wasn't much more and I'm thankful.
4. The vampires aren't sparky hot things to look at but hideous brainless monsters and that's some fresh air xDDDD
5. When Curran was being an asshole but Kate put him in his place.

That's all for now, maybe I will write something better later :D

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Kate's just a mercenary.

She dropped out of school, and is living her own life, relying on odd jobs to make her ends meet.  At the beginning of the story, she only has about $1500 to her name, but that's okay.  Why?  Because she's good at her job even if she's a little cheeky, and things always work out in the end.

When her mentor is killed, Kate is brought in to investigate the case by one of the three magical law enforcement factions.  Her search leads her to the underbelly of the city, where she meets and befriends the beast lord, and is led in a million wrong directions.  Will she ever discover the true killer?

I have no feelings about Kate.

Kate Daniels is not a bad character.  I've met her before - in supernatural thrillers, in D&D-style fantasies, in adult vampire books.  Nothing about her really stands out.  She's a little like Anita Blake, but less snarky and driven.  A little like Calaena Sardothien, but not with half the charm.  She's a completely forgettable character, but she serves her purpose.

I really can't pinpoint anything that makes Magic Bites stand out as exceptional or must-be-avoided.  It's another magical realism book set in the American South with tones of Sookie Stackhouse, although with a strange twist on vampires that you have to read about because I'm not quite sure where that version of Nosferatu came form.

Overall, the writing was okay.

Seeing a theme here?  This was definitely a middle-of-the-line type of book for me.  Nothing about the writing really stood out as beautiful or engaging.  Things just sort of chugged along, like a loyal freight train, moving forward at a steady, reliable pace.  There were a few moments where I had to smack my forehead and ask, "Seriously?  Did I just read that?" - including a comment from the female protagonist about how a man could beat her and honestly the fact that there are so many uncomfortable sexual comments that I was cringing.  I can deal with a bit of heat in my books, but this was just AWKWARD.

You get that general feeling of lost-ness from Kate as well as you follow her story.  She talks to a contact, goes on a date, talks to a contact, goes on another date... and nothing really seems to tie together.  This bothers her too, as near the end of the book she's digging for a better solution and feeling strongly that the killer is still out there.

And the bit with her sitting on her lawn guzzling wine and using herself as bait is just all sort of cheesy?

I don't know, guys.

This book will appeal to fans of paperback fantasy thrillers.

I definitely had my time where I was obsessed with Anita Blake... and I still have some of those books on my shelves.  But if I'm being really honest, there's only so much time in the world for mediocre books and I don't really want to dive into another supernatural series that I'm really not invested in.  That's what I feel about Kate Daniels, although honestly?  I think that she'd really appeal to others.

The magical world here has potential, but needs to be expanded, and it felt a little like the authors were uncomfortable in this skin (Ilona Andrews is actually Ilona and her husband, or so Goodreads tell me?).  I hear as the series progresses, the books get better, so if you're into monster-hunting mercenaries in Atlanta, stick with it!

For myself, I'll stopping here.

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Serious world building in this first book, but I enjoyed it. Kate is a bad ass heroine who gave us glimpses of that soft center she tries to hide. Curran is a bit of a d-bag, but I have a feeling he's going to be the one person that pushes Kate as this series progresses.

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Chelsea 3 of 5 stars
I had a rough start to this one. I found there was too much descriptions for things that didn't matter and not enough for things that did. I was glad that my copy of this book had some extra content in the back because I was lost without it. I thought the world building was lacking quite a bit, mostly because I honestly had no clue what this world was this magic. I was lost and confused until about half way through when the real action distracted me from the lack of world building.
The good part was the characters. I found them all really interesting (though again, lack of descriptions where it needed them) but I noticed there was a serious lack of women in this first books, besides our main character of course. It was nice in the way that I was rooting for some romance but it sucked in the way that I would have really liked some more female characters to be badass with Kate.
While I'm still a little iffy about this book, I'm still really curious to see where the story goes and I'll probably try to continue on with the series.

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Kim Deister 4 of 5 stars
Magic Bites I don't read a lot of urban fantasy, but I loved Magic Bites! The action is fantastic and it features a badass heroine. Mix that with a ton of paranormal lore and mythology, and it is a truly engrossing read.
The world of Kate Daniels is a post-apocalyptic one, but different from most in fiction. The apocalypse wasn't the fallout of war, famine, or strife. It was the downfall of technology. A wave of magic came over the world and changed everything. Now it comes and goes, leaving technology sketchy at best. But more than that, it has left the world teeming with new creatures and new battles.
The paranormal aspects of this world are fantastic. There are a lot of the usual suspects of the paranormal world, but they are given a new spin. Vampires are not sparkly, but piloted by necromancers. And the world of shapeshifters is expanded and fascinating.
Kate is a mercenary in Georgia and it is her job to fix these magical problems, whether it be something dangerous, or just something messy and inconvenient. It's a thankless job, but it's one she's very good at. And it lets her be what she wants.... alone.
She is a fantastic main character. She's strong and badass, but smart and witty, too. For a book with so much action, there is a lot of humor. Her one-liners and her inner dialogue had me laughing more than once.
Overall:  This is a book with a smart, kickass female lead and I definitely recommend it! Tons of action and an amazing world!

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3.5 stars

2016 Re-Read
Fun as the first time, but I'm still firmly in the opinion the later books are far superior. This one feels slightly abrupt, in a way? Like, suddenly something happens out of the blue, and the villain is not fleshed out and is, again, abrupt.

But don't judge this series based on this book - it gets better and better with every book.

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Angie 2 of 5 stars
Magic Bites is a book that I've wanted to read for a long time, but just never got to it until now. And now, I'm sadly disappointed. It jumps straight into the action, which normally isn't a bad thing, but in this case I needed some build up. Kate's guardian has just been murdered and she's dead set on discovering who did it and then killing them. But I don't know Kate. I don't know Greg. And I certainly don't know the nature of their relationship. How am I suppose to care about what happened to him?

I wanted to like Magic Bites, but I just never got into it. Kate is a down on her luck mercenary who takes care of magical problems. She's also not what she seems, even to herself. She's also no wilting flower and won't let anyone get in her way in solving this murder. But like I said, I didn't care. This was an emotional thing for Kate, but I had no attachment to her after five pages. I still didn't feel anything for her by the end either. I was just reading to be reading.

What I did like about Magic Bites, but didn't get enough of was the world building. I love this idea of magic surging and overtaking technology. However, I was quite confused about it for much of the book. All we really get about the situation is that "magic is up, tech is down." I kept imagining magic as a solar flare that just destroyed whatever tech got in its way. I wanted to know more about why it happens and how long its been going on. It's obviously a huge deal, since there's suddenly all kinds of magical beings roaming the earth. I didn't really understand anything until I read the bonus material, which should be supplementary, not the entire explanation.

I'm just disappointed in Magic Bites. I absolutely love the idea of the base of this world, but there's not enough world-building for me to make up for the boring plot. I do want to know more though, so that might be enough for me to at least pick up the second book.

Read more of my reviews at Pinkindle Reads & Reviews.