Short non-spoilery review – this is a solid entry in an excellent series. If you aren’t reading the Kate Daniels series, you should start.
On to the longer and inevitably spoilery review (there is no way to talk about book 9 in a series without getting spoilery). Planning a wedding was never going to be Kate’s favorite thing to do, but tensions rising with her father and oracles calling with dark prophecies push wedding planning even farther down the list of priorities. Worse, Kate’s claiming of Atlanta is starting to have some unintended consequences.
The magic that Kate gained access to when she claimed Atlanta is starting to push at Kate. She is quicker to anger, less tolerant of being questioned, and having a hard time remembering her ethical code. She is becoming more like her father. Roland is pushing her hard too. He is unable to leave Kate and Atlanta alone. His challenge to her authority, an authority she isn’t really prepared for, feeds into Kate’s darkest places. Between the visions of Curran’s death and the darker person she fears she is becoming, Kate is afraid she will lose everything and everyone. Out of that fear comes her craziest plan and the acquisition of her strangest ally.
I break the Kate Daniels series into 3 phases. Books 1 and 2 are getting a feel for the world and establishing Kate as a badass, solitary assassin. Book 3 until Kate meets her grandmother in book 7 are about Kate putting down roots, building relationships, and making a place for herself in the leadership of Atlanta. Once Kate meets her grandmother, the books move into phrase three – Kate, Curran and Roland struggle for Kate’s future and the future of the world. There are some shades of Harry Potter here. Like Harry and Voldemort, Kate and Roland are linked. Roland’s actions have shaped Kate into a weapon against him, but there is no surety that either can survive an all out conflict. Roland seeks dominion, Kate just wants to live her life.
There are a lot of things I like about the world the Andrews’ have built. I like that Kate is not a Prophecy Girl. Oracles can see the future, but the future is created by the actions we take. Little choices and small decisions about how we treat out family, other people and even enemies are the hallmarks of whether we are a good person or a bad person. In this book, more than any other, Kate is struggling with this. But she makes choices to change the future, to save the man she loves and the city she loves. She chooses to call herself a guardian and not a ruler.
I love that for the most part, characters have logical motivations. Sometimes those motivations are clear, and sometimes they show themselves gradually. Logic is an important element often lacking in sweeping magic epics. There are holes in some of the logic, but they are small enough to ignore.
Super Spoilery – Erra is back. I love Erra. She was my favorite of Kate’s opponents. After I finish this review I’m going back to re read Magic Bleeds. Erra is the missing link in Kate’s quest to defeat her father. More importantly, she brings some sparkle and vinegary levity to the last half of the book.
I can’t wait for the final book, and of course I dread it terribly.