Second in this excellent urban fantasy series, author/couple Ilona Andrews gives us lots to chew on in Magic Burns. Part-time mercenary and part-time investigator/warrior for the merciless Order of Merciful Aid, Kate Daniels is asked to rescue some important survey maps for the shapeshifter alliance known as The Pack, and in the process comes smack up against two colliding Celtic gods and their minions who are hoping to re-enter—and re-take—the world during a rare magic flare, which is described as a “magic tsunami. “
Alone the way, we are introduced to Julie, the street-wise 13-year-old daughter of a missing witch who a lonely Kate takes under her protection and into her heart while searching for the mother. We also again meet the strange being known as Saiman who, caught in the grip of the flare, is intoxicated with magic and presented to the reader in an unforgettable scene: Kate goes to Saiman’s luxury high-rise apartment to pry some information loose, and finds him changing identities—and bodies—while dancing naked in the snow. In the guise of a golden-skinned Adonis, Saiman pulls the tough Kate into a whirling dance of seduction which almost succeeds. Saiman will return in future books, and we will get to see his many sides. He is a fascinating character unto himself.
Kate also crosses paths again with her on-again/off-again nemesis, Pack leader Curran. A werelion of extraordinary power and even more extraordinary charisma, Curran is as determined to bed the intriguing Kate as she is determined to avoid the heartbreak that a dalliance with Curran would entail. When Curran’s ex-girlfriend appeals to Kate to convince Curran to permit her marriage to Kate’s ex-boyfriend, this particular plot line gets a bit tangled, but gives Kate and Curran a chance to cross swords in a remarkable scene in which the two antagonists conduct their own unique brand of courtship—with fists! Curran gets a glimpse of Kate’s unique magic powers when she unwisely uses her hidden “power words” in his presence.
The authors’ writing is consistently exciting. They give us fantastical characters that are at once larger than life and yet beset with all the flaws and weaknesses that make them human. They change and grow before our eyes. Magic Burns is set in the future city of Atlanta which is at the same time familiar to us, and yet totally alien. The action is spectacular if immensely gory (not for the squeamish!), and the dialogue contemporary and delightfully witty at times. The romantic plotline is subtle (at least this early in the series) but promises to run riot in sequels to come. All in all, a rollicking good time, with more in the works.