This is the third in the series, still in 2040 Atlanta where magic and tech surges alternate and wreak havoc, and humanity shares the planet with strange creatures of all sorts. The first half of Magic Strikes is classic, but heartbreaking. Heroine Kate Daniels races against time to save her– and my–favorite teen werewolf Derek from a gang of death fighters he has angered by encouraging a beautiful young would-be defector from their ranks, but she arrives too late. Derek’s body is discovered shattered and dying, his beautiful face destroyed and his unique ability to regenerate somehow blocked. Worse, Derek had defied Beastlord Curran’s orders to stay clear of The Midnight Games, where the death fights were taking place, and so to save his life without incurring the wrath—and punishment—of the Pack, Kate must discover how Derek’s regeneration is being blocked. To do so, she must enter the world of The Midnight Games.
Enter Saiman, the super-wealthy hedonist who has a thing for Kate, is a part-owner of The Midnight Games, and with whom Kate strikes a deal for access to the death fighters. Also involved in this deadly gambit is Jim, the Pack’s wereleopard head of security who is hiding from Curran as he too mysteriously defies Pack orders to stay away from the Games. Kate’s ward Julie, who has a crush on Derek, gets pulled into the story, and Kate’s complicated best friend Andrea, who was outed as a “beastkin” (offspring of a hyenawere and a human) in the previous novel, throws her hat into the ring as well.
Just as Celtic mythology was central to the theme of Magic Burns (#2), so Hindu mythology is central to Magic Strikes. And so we are introduced to the rakshashas, terrifying eaters of human flesh who come in a dizzying variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and who are (spoiler here!) recruits of the ultimate bad guy in the Magic series, Roland. We are also introduced to Roland’s warlord Hugh d’Ambray for the first time, and are instantly mesmerized by his darkness, his terrifying allure, and his fascination for Kate.
This is where I found the novel veering uncharacteristically out of control, and I felt like I had entered a weird sort of Oz, with flying palaces and flying body parts in equal measure. The authors’ manage to rescue the novel while simultaneously bringing the Kate/Curran pas de deux to a new level, so I guess it’s all worth it in the end, but for me this latter portion of the novel was an unfortunate break in the general level of excellence of the series. Still tremendously enjoyable. On to the next.