It’s always with great trepidation that I approach the second book in a new (well, new to me) series. If the writer has done their job in the first book I should have a solid grasp of the world to the point where things shouldn’t have to be explained in anything more than a perfunctory way and I should have a good understanding of the main characters, their background and motivations. So what does the author do next? I usually want to see character development of the main characters, relationship development amoungst the two leads and development of a series plot thread. Ilona Andrews delivered all of that and more with the second Kate Daniels book.
Emotional development, great world building, different “baddies” than the norm, strong characterisation, some brilliant one liners, solid secondary characters
Quote that best sums up the lead character:
“When I come crawling home, bleeding and filthy and exhausted, the house is dark and empty. Nobody keeps the porch light on for me. Nobody hugs me and says, ‘Hey, I’m glad you made it. I’m glad you’re okay. I was worried. Nobody cares if I live or die. Nobody makes me coffee, nobody holds me before I go to bed, nobody fixes my medicine when I’m sick. I’m by myself.”
In Magic Burns Kate finds herself in the middle of a battle between two gods. Along the way she assigns herself as the protector for a street kid whos mum has gone missing, meets a cheeky character who holds the distinguished title of the person who is capable of annoying Curran more than Kate and accepts a bowl of soup from the Beast Lord without understanding what that means. The world building is as tight as in Magic Bites, the plot is sharply focused but it’s the emotional development of the main character that is the real reason Magic Burns is worth some of your precious free time.
It was actually hard to pick just one quote to sum up Kate for this book. This book is a both a journey of self discovery and a brutal reminder of her past. She is at her core a very lonely person which was touched on in Magic Bites but is fully explored in this book. And it shows through in subtle and surprising ways – such as how quickly she forms an attachment to Julie and how quickly she refers to her as “my…”. She is beginning to form friendships, with tentative unsure steps that illustrate how isolated she has been for all of her life. And yet it never comes across as angst-ridden or pity-soaked. She has moments of self-awareness and doubt but then picks herself up and takes care of the job at hand.
Curran’s character continues to intrigue. There’s a scene where Curran and Kate go head to head which for me was the highlight of the entire book. You had the sense that they revealed a lot of their souls not only to you the reader but to each other as well. What I love about Ilona Andrews’ writing is the subtly of her story telling. For me there’s no sense of a deliberate romantic story line being written into the story, but instead you get the sense of two strong people with duties and secrets that are gaining a great deal of respect and understanding which is backing up the initial attraction. The steps Curran takes to further the relationship in this book feel deliberate and considered which are perfectly in keeping with his personality.
All in all it’s an action packed book that has been skillfully crafted so that every sentence develops either the plot, characters or your understanding of the world.
Renee Raudman once again gave a solid performance for Magic Burns with consistent characterisation throughout. The only part of her narration I didn’t enjoy was towards the end (and no, I won’t give away spoilers) where I though Kate’s tone would have been more angry and resentful than upset.