First, I would like to thank the lovely Malin for making it possible for me to read Magic Shifts at this time. Yes, I could have waited until I had an extra $13 or until it was available at the library, but that would have been weeks. So thank you, Malin.
Second, there will be spoilers for the previous books as well as little spoilers for this one. I don’t know how to write about the series without getting into spoilers. If you haven’t read them yet, go do it now.
The longer the series goes on the more interesting it becomes. One of the things I like about the Kate Daniels series is that the Andrews* have created a fractured chaotic world. It isn’t a Mad Max post apocalyptic wasteland, society and government are maintaining a toehold, but people have broken down into smaller groups and factions. The world is unsettled between magic and technology and in the chaos, power vacuums exist. People who seek and collect power for it’s own sake are beginning to thrive, and could soon thrive unchecked.
When we left Magic Breaks, Kate had just prevented Roland from claiming Atlanta by claiming it herself. To prevent a war they aren’t ready for, Curran and Kate stepped down from the Pack. Kate and her father have brokered a theoretical 100 year cease fire, but no one thinks Roland will be able to leave her alone (he doesn’t). Kate, Curran and Julie have moved to a house in the suburbs with normal human neighbors and a mailman. They do their own dishes.
One of the things I liked best about this installment was Curran unchained. Set free from being the Beast Lord, he blossoms into a more interesting character. He suddenly has to coexist in human society and he no longer has Pack personnel to deal with the mundane details and cater to his ever whim. A running gag in the book is people not realizing Curran is the former Beast Lord. Curran doesn’t trust non shapeshifters any more than others trust shapeshifters. Of course, he can’t not be in charge of something, and being in charge of one teenager isn’t sufficient.
Kate is continuing to grow into the bulwark against chaos that Atlanta needs.
I live here,” I said. “I like Atlanta. I don’t want this to be a terrible place where people are ruled by assholes and afraid. You live here, too. Don’t you want this place not to turn into a hellhole?
Our non-apocalyptic, non-magic world often seems like it is becoming more dangerous and more chaotic, breaking down into smaller and smaller factions. Kate is the super hero we would want. She has the skill and willingness to fight for what is right, but doesn’t want to rule. She’s the warrior that wants to maintain and support civil society. Over the course of the series, she’s become more comfortable in her skin and more relatable as a character. She is growing in power, but not without major vulnerabilities.
Pointless musings and speculation – I keep expecting that there is some sort of coalition of support being built around Kate. There is, to a certain degree, but it looks like it’s going to be individuals more than groups supporting Kate when she does inevitably battle her father. It seems likely that past alliances don’t necessarily mean future alliances. Now that Kate has revealed her heritage and power, she’s a threat. In the past she was dismissable as a crazy merc. She had more power as the Consort to the Beast Lord, but not so much in her own right. Then she was revealed to be the daughter of a man so powerful he might as well be a god. The Witch Oracle is pissed off that Kate claimed Atlanta. The Pack is somewhat destabalized under new leadership. The Order seems more likely to hope Kate and Roland take each other out. The People belong to Roland. The multitude of other factions are up in the air. It makes for a more uncertain and dynamic showdown. Whatever the monster of the moment, Kate never forgets the biggest threat against her and is always on the lookout for an advantage over Roland. She may have created one of her strongest allies yet in Magic Shifts.
After a couple of books with a lot of travel, Magic Shifts sticks close to home. It is a less epic installment, but not less rich. I could say a lot more. I have many many more thoughts, but this will do for now. There are two more novels under contract for the Kate Daniels’ series. I both want them now, and want it to never end. I’ve recently learned that the Andrews live here in Austin. I have promised not to become a stalker, but if they need any help around the house to facilitate their writing, I volunteer.
*Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife writing team. Their last name is not Andews, but I refer to them in the plural by their nom de plume.