Two month’s after her latest brush with death and the feisty beast Lord, merc Kate’s back to cleaning up the usual magical messes until she comes across an m-scan picking up divine magic. Usually this wouldn’t pose a problem but erratic magic waves mean a flare is coming, when magic waves turn into a tsunami and anything could happen. But Kate doesn’t have too much time to dwell on that when Curran asks Kate to recover some stolen maps for the Pack shapeshifters. It isn’t until Kate runs into a street child named Julie looking for her missing mother that she realizes everything she is investigating is connected somehow and comes down to that flare – the only time deities can manifest themselves in mortal Atlanta. Suddenly Kate finds herself caught up in a battle for power between two gods with the survival of the city, and the young Julie, at stake.
And that’s also exactly how the stakes were for me in this second installment. I liked Kate in Magic Bites and the super cool tech/magic concept showed some real promise, but not enough to commit me to the series. Fortunately Magic Burns delivered on the standards set in the opening book and then some. This very much includes Kate’s character, whose fierce attitude and willful independence had potential in the first but has really grown on me here. In a world that is so alarmingly different than ours Kate remains so relatable. I particularly love how the fictionalized magic Atlanta clashes with the unchanged ordinary things of the tech world. Kate’s justification for eating fried food seems to sum up both the bite to her personality and that contrast well:
“Normally I kept away from fried food, but today was different. I’d danced in the snow, crawled in tortoise spit, got locked up in glyphs, and I deserved some fried wings, damn it.”
It also sums up the draw (for me) of urban fantasy: in the very best series the heroines are strong-willed, never take crap, and can seriously kick-butt. That, combined with Kate’s staunchly loyal devotion to Julie in this installment, and I’m completely won over to Kate and Ilona Andrews fandom. No matter how much she tries to bury it, Kate does have a sensitive, nurturing, human side to go along with her magical blood. It was also hard not to squeal when her and a certain werebeastie discover they’re on the same page. There’s another brilliantly awesome Curran Kate moment in the epilogue, too, that brought me to my knees, clamoring for Magic Strikes. My luck couldn’t have been better: there’s a bunch of extra goodies to read from Curran’s POV on Ilona Andrews website and the fourth book, Magic Bleeds is set to hit bookstores in May. Self-denied exclamation points, swooning and squealing to follow.