Jul 23 2014 8:30am

First Look: Ilona Andrews’s Magic Breaks (July 29, 2014)

Ilona Andrews
Magic Breaks
Ace Hardcover / July 29, 2014 / $25.95 print / $12.99 digital

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Books that contain huge chunks of running and fighting tend to lose my interest. You get page after page of blood-spurting, limb-lopping action, with a pause for a scene or two wound-licking and making wisecracks, which is then followed by a bunch more scenes of running and fighting.

But when it’s Ilona Andrews, I gobble those books like they’re fresh baked and I’m starved.

Yes, the latest book has more running and fighting, running and fighting. It also has hey! Look! The surprising reappearance of a character we thought was dead, which I also don’t usually appreciate. Also on the downside—the mystery isn’t particularly difficult to figure out. (I’m spoiled by this series. Usually the mystery is an intriguing bonus to the action plot. This one involves the murder of a master vampire navigator.)

Yet I forgive the book nearly everything, even the overlong portion of everyone trying to escape a strong-hold that reads like a meandering dream sequence. I even forgave the way Kate kills someone slowly just to drag out the pain. Not a lot of heroines can get away with torture and still be a heroine in my universe.

Kate can.

Maybe I let my usual dislike of this stuff go because I’m a hopeless fan-girl? Or maybe because Andrews is just that good.

Getting back to the running and fighting. (Quote from page 149: “‘Run. I sprinted. ‘Ruuuun.’”) Kate’s running and fighting as usual—and, let’s face it, it’s usually the latter because she adores a good battle—but as I read, I got why it works for me.

Her running and fighting is different from some other action-filled novels. In Andrews’ books, the characters don’t pause their story to fight, they bring themselves along for the bloodshed.

I’m reminded of the difference between bad and good sex scenes.

Sex scenes—or battle scenes—can be sort of rote, you might sense that they could be yanked out of the book and the character’s journey won’t change. The plot will probably change, but not the people. Those scenes can feel extraneous because it’s as if the rest of the story pauses while the characters have at it. In a good sex/fighting scene, the fighting and sex is vital because the characters are there for the ride. During the sex—or fighting—they are changed, and not just because of the blood—or other fluids—that’s spilled.

Kate’s story and fighting have changed over the series, but some of her character traits remain consistent. Three in particular remain constant: she likes the high she gets from rampaging around, she protects people, and she will not leave any of her companions behind. In this book, she understands the fact that she’ll never be a proper alpha because she can’t sacrifice anyone she loves for the greater good. Or maybe that’s something she’s always understood, but it becomes clear why that’s a disadvantage.

True to Kate’s style, she shrugs and accepts that part of herself. Not a lot of sitting around moaning about her flaws and mistakes. That’s one advantage to a high-action story. No one has time to do much more than fight for survival, and this book, like the others before it, keeps on pushing the stakes higher and higher.

And then, suddenly. . .

Kate finds an actual uneasy peace. As I closed the book, I wondered if this could possibly be the last in the series. I mean this story ends with a plate of cookies accompanied by a note from a dire enemy—what more could you want when it comes to resolution?

Sidenote: It’s not The End, by the way. According to the Ilona Andrews’s website. there are at least three more books set in this universe and two are apparently Kate-centered.

Phew. I like the secondary characters. Jim and Andrea rock and I’d love a Derek book, but there’s only one Kate.

Back to Magic Breaks: One reviewer I know bemoaned the lack of a serious ass-kicking fireworks-exploding confrontation, but given who Kate is, and what she’s facing, she really doesn’t have a choice. The fighting and running ends suddenly but that uneasy, and probably temporary, answer is reasonable for all of the characters involved. She also didn’t like all the dollops of deus ex machina in the story. Another usual annoyance that I don’t mind when Andrews does it. Hey, what can you expect in that particular universe, with all those deities running around?

Details I liked about this book:

  • How master vampire navigator Ghastek got his name.
  • Kate’s grandma’s creepy present.
  • Cuddles the giant donkey. Kate often has some recalcitrant weird animal she bonds with. I miss her attack poodle in this one.
  • Ascanio and Derek bickering. Snotty teenaged boys are among of my favorite creatures in the world and Andrews seems to know a few well. There isn’t a lot of Julie the step-daughter in this one, but that’s okay. No Saimon, and that’s too bad.

Kate’s come a long way. She’s kicked a whole lot of ass, and the journey is still a whole lot of fun. Even better, complicated though the plot, universe and characters are, the story still makes sense. My passion for Kate continues.


Learn more or pre-order a copy of Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews, available July 29, 2014:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & Noble



Kate Rothwell writes romance using her own name and the pseudonym Summer Devon. She lives in Connecticut with four men (three of whom are her sons). You can find out more about her at and

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Traci Wallace
1. tracilynn
I can't wait to get my hands on this one! As much as I want to stretch this summer out, I can not wait for next week!
3. KateRothwell
I'm so jealous! Are you guys reading the second in the Clean Sweep series? It's up on their website as a freebie.
Carmen Pinzon
4. bungluna
I don't have the patiense to read a serialized anything. I wait for the final product 'cause I wanna know what happens now!
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