The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Why You Should Read the Kate Daniels Books by Ilona Andrews

Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor

Magic Rises, the sixth book in Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series, is coming out tomorrow (July 30).  This series is, and continues to be, one of my favorite urban fantasy series.

Kate Daniels starts the series as an underachieving mercenary and loner, hiding her identity from…well, everyone.  She’s got a big target on her back, and if word gets out who and what she really is, she’s dead.  But when her guardian is killed in the first book, she makes a choice to search for his killer, risking exposure at every step.  Throughout the series, that’s the choice Kate makes: allow herself closer to people and the world and risk her life, or protect herself and live in isolation.

The series has some of the most kick-ass worldbuilding I’ve ever seen.  Kate lives in a future Atlanta where magic and technology battle for dominance.  The backstory is that magic dominated during ancient times, until technology tipped the scales.  Within the last 25 years, though, magic has tipped the scales again, causing creatures once thought imaginary to re-emerge.  Magic destroys anything technological, so you have cars dying, lights going out, and skyscrapers falling from the sky.  Andrews (the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team) borrows liberally from the mythology of different eras and cultures.  Nothing is off limits.  The idea behind the series is that what was once real is now real again.

There is a romantic subplot in this series, between Kate and the shapeshifter alpha, Curran.  One of the things that I like about it is that it’s more realistic than a lot of fictional relationships.  The push-and-pull dynamic between them continues for several books.  Though there is always attraction and lust between them, they don’t always like each other very much.  Curran is extremely dominant and used to being in control all the time.  Kate’s a loner who doesn’t trust anyone.  These problems don’t resolve immediately, or easily.

But I think my favorite part of the series is the evolution of Kate herself.  I have to admit, the first book didn’t immediately grab me.  Kate is such a loner, and it seems like she doesn’t care about anyone or anything.  It took a while to really get into Kate’s head to see why she is the way she is.  But throughout the series, she begins to form greater, deeper attachments to the people around her—something that isn’t easy for her.  As her investment in other people grows, the stakes become higher.  Kate cares about these characters, but we care about them, too.  Kate matures a lot through the series, and seeing this is one of the biggest payoffs of following the series.

One of my pet peeves about long-running series is…well, that they never seem to stop running, and they never seem to be going anywhere.  The Kate Daniels series, on the other hand, does have an overarching plot arc.  Each book stands alone, but the series is driving toward an endpoint—and fast.  With only a few more books remaining in the series, it’s a good time to catch up from book one.

Start the series off with Magic Bites, followed by Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays, and Magic Rises.  There is a side novel, Gunmetal Magic, that takes place in the same world and follows another character in the series, but you don’t need to read it to follow series continuity.  However, if you do, read it between Magic Slays and Magic Rises.

These books are perfect if you’re looking for a summer beach read.