Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)

by Ilona Andrews

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...

Reviewed by EBookObsessed on

5 of 5 stars

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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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 24 January, 2021: Finished reading
  • 24 January, 2021: Reviewed
  • Started reading
  • Finished reading
  • 24 January, 2021: Reviewed