Magic Bleeds

Magic Burns

On the Edge

Magic Slays
by Ilona Andrews
(Ace, 7.99, R for violence)  ISBN  978-0-441-02042-3
The magical equivalent of the Holocaust is about to slam into Atlanta.  Kate Daniels find this out the hard way.  She's asked by an elite bodyguard unit called the Red Guard to investigate the murder of one of their own.  Kate, being the mate of a very overprotective Beast Lord, has found herself short on business since striking out on her own, and takes the case even though it makes her twitchy.

Kate being a bit of a trouble magnet, she discovers quickly why this case was a bad idea — and why she's the only one capable of handling it.  Joined by her best friend and new business partner, Andrea, Kate heads over to check out the crime scene.  It wasn't just a murder, but a sacrifice to a dark god, and that leads Kate into areas of Russian witchcraft from which she has been banned due to a previous case.  In the meantime, she's reunited with a woman who claims she's Kate's relative and tells her that the memories Kate has of her childhood are at heart untrue.

Reeling from this personal discovery and wondering for the first time what it really was that drew the Beast Lord to her, Kate nonetheless gets her head back in the game.  While dealing with one case-related problem, her office and her adopted daughter are attacked.  One of Kate's bodyguards ends up killed, one wounded, and Julie contracts the virus that will make her a wereanimal – if she survives the initial change, which it's pretty clear that she won't.  The Pack (the governing body of wereanimals, led by the Beast Lord) has a policy of killing any animals that go crazy, but for Kate's benefit the Pack's doctor keeps Julie under heavy sedation to give Kate time to adjust.

As Kate's fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants investigation rolls on, she uncovers information that leads her directly to a cult of magic-haters who are determined to see this magic-nullifying bomb put to use so they can bring the world back off of ledge of magic and back into technology.  They aren't worried about the mass murders committed in the name of technology, and in the end, it comes down to a standoff.  The results will be horrible one way or the other, but if Kate and Curran can't muster their own army of magic users – who are contentious at best – in a timely fashion, every magic user in the world could be at risk.

The fifth novel in the Ilona Andrews series starring Kate Daniels, though it leaps right into the action as its heroine is wont to do, fails to yank a reader in.  Of course, also like Kate herself, Magic Slays bounces back.  Unfortunately, it never regains the momentum that's become part of the series' stock in trade.  The upside to this is the deeper sense of philosophy that's inherent to Magic Slays simply because of its controversial subject matter.   Fans won't want to miss this latest installment – and make sure to check out Ilona Andrews contribution to the Hexed anthology, "Magic Dreams," also released in June.  Crazy Asian blind chick Dali the white tiger finally gets her say in the series.

--Sarrah Knight

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