As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the best ways to become a better writer is to become a better reader. So, I’ve dug through the mountains of books I’ve read and loved over the years to come up with one I feel worthy of passing on to you all.
In honor October, the month of Halloween, I’m recommending Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews.
Why I Picked Magic Bites
Since October is the month of Halloween, when we’re all about the supernatural, I thought it appropriate to present to you a book that has all the good stuff: vampires, magic, werewolves (and lions and bears and hyenas…), and more. And if you continue the series, you’ll even find ghosts.
What I Love about It
Ilona Andrews takes all of those supernatural creatures, stories, and traditions we’re familiar with and combine them with every supernatural belief and tradition from around the world, including religions past and present. They then set them in a post-apocalyptic version of our reality.
The result is a fresh take on a dystopian world without the hopeless feeling of society circling the drain. I’m gonna be honest here. I don’t like most dystopian novels because they’re just so depressing! But Magic Bites is a dystopian novel for those of us who don’t like dystopian novels.
Plus, it’s a big bonus for me to find a novel with a strong female lead with attitude and hidden depths. Kate Daniels, as well as all of the characters who inhabit this series, is an engaging, dynamic character who has obvious flaws but who still continues to grow and develop.
And the authors don’t neglect the thread of humor that keeps you engaged and coming back for more. The story strikes the perfect balance between light and heavy.
What I Don’t Love about It
Like I said above, the characters in this novel (and all of Ilona Andrews’s stories) are flawed. They have a lot of room to grow, even Kate, the protagonist. Sometimes, it’s hard to watch the heroes stumble.
And often, the villains turn out to have hidden depths. So, if you don’t like to see both sides of a story or admit to the gray areas in the world, this book probably isn’t for you. And there’s no shame in admitting that, sometimes, you’re just not in the mood for that.
Of course, sometimes, that’s a positive (as long as, we can still cheer for the good guys and boo the bad guys).
What Is Magic Bites? And Who Is Kate Daniels?
For many of you, this series is old news. Magic Bites originally came out over fifteen years ago. But while they’ve retired the main storyline, Ilona Andrews is still writing novels set in that world.
I don’t want to spoil the fun for you, so I'll just say that the main story follows a young mercenary who goes by Kate Daniels. Obviously, there’s more to it: a mysterious past, warring factions with Kate caught in the middle, and oodles of magic clashing on all sides.
All of this takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, after the world has been ravaged by waves of magic that randomly and suddenly plunge the world back and forth between a magic-soaked reality, in which advanced technology is worthless, and a magicless reality, in which technology reigns and magic is nearly nonexistent.
Who is Ilona Andrews?
If you’re new to the SF world (or you’ve been stuck in a rut or living under a rock), Ilona Andrews is a husband-and-wife writing team who writes some of the best fantasy fiction I’ve read. All of their characters are believable human beings with strengths and flaws and who face challenges and make hard choices.
If you love reading fantasy but are tired of the run-of-the-mill ghosts and goblins, this may be just the book you’re craving.
But beware—once you start, you may not be able to stop until you’ve consumed the whole series. And the next. And the next…
You can find Magic Bites at Ilona Andrews’s website or just about any book retailer of your choice. (There's a list of links on the website.)
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.