Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews is an urban fantasy novel, the first book in the Kate Daniel series. Ilona Andrews is the pen name of a husband and wife writing team. Together, they wrote a solid first instalment of what turned out to be an addictive series.
Picture this! a female mercenary with a shiny sword, a sexy lion-shifter (how many times do we get to see these huh?) With a large helping of blood magic and family, it can only get better.
The story follows Kate Daniels, the heroine of this story. She is a badass mercenary who won’t take crap from anybody. A magical mercenary who makes a living in Atlanta doing the shitty jobs *pun intended* that nobody else wants to do. When her guardian and mentor are found dead, Kate demands to be put on the case. Though, it’s probably a bad idea, given how emotional she is and how poorly the magical community reacts to mercenaries in general. Totally badass right? Even though I loved Kate with my whole heart, I was totally in love with the wereboudas. I mean who knew hyenas could be so sexy, from Aunt B to Raphael and Asciano— Hyenas are not a were-animal theme that is very common, so I guess that was part of the allure for me.
Magic bites is one of the few urban fantasy with a female lead in which romance is not the main attraction. It made the book more relatable because let’s face it, our lives do not revolve around sex. The main attraction for me was Kate’s independence. She is fierce in every way that counted and she is someone I would really love to meet in real life. This goes to show just how realistic the characters were. They all seemed to exist and I was half-convinced that if I went to the city of Atlanta, I could meet them. Bonus point is the fact that most of the characters were grown, so there was very little teenage “woe is me” drama that most fantasy books seem to have currently.
Every part of this book was beautifully written and every page was gripping, particularly the fight scenes. The flirty scenes between our two main leads were not cliché or boring, but filled with humour and sometimes were downright hilarious. Another attractive quality of this book is its ability to have you equally in stitches with laughter while having you at the edge of your seat, wondering what is going to happen next.
The ability of the authors to depict these characters’ lives so realistically is what kept me glued to this book. Otherwise, it would have been a regular, standard urban fantasy with lots of fighting and magical woohoo. The mystery driving the main conflict wasn’t particularly mysterious; the idea of a third party trying to start a war between two superpowers has been done in similar ways many times before. But there was this “omph” factor. I mean, I could almost hear the dialogue in my head.
Magic Bites is the first book in the series. It did enough to make me want to read the rest of the books in the series and trust me, it only got better. I would rate this book a 9/10 because I am Nigerian and we don’t really give full marks. I recommend this book for all lovers of urban fantasy/drama and dark humour, particularly older readers who are bored with teen angst present in most books. If you have read and love the Shifter Unbound Series or the Psy-Changeling Series, then this is just the book just for you.