Andrea Nash is broken. Still traumatized in some ways by her childhood as a beastkin, kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, and seemingly single after losing the love of her life, Andrea has no direction. She finds herself sleeping in cupboards, avoiding her friends, and hiding from her true nature. She’s trying to put her life together, in part by running a new investigative firm called Cutting Edge with her best friend, Kate Daniels. One of the first cases that she needs to handle is an investigation at a dig site run by that former lover, Raphael, the alpha of Clan Bouda. Several shapeshifters have lost their lives and it’s Andrea’s job to find the killer, setting her feelings aside for the good of the Pack and all of Atlanta.
This excellent expansion of the Kate Daniels universe is expertly well crafted, giving us a new main character who is distinctly (thankfully) different in voice from Kate and a real character in her own right. Andrea is clever and interesting but hurting constantly, and parts of this book definitely had my emotions in tangles. Her real problem is her nature as beastkin; her father was a hyena first, which means she’s considered a target by much of the shapeshifting world, as she can’t shift properly. Instead, she becomes a hybrid human and hyena, more beautiful and natural in appearance than a normal shapeshifter’s “warrior” form, but discriminated against because of her father’s beast-like nature. Her inability to accept who she is due to this discrimination has led to many of the problems she’s facing and a big part of the book is her acceptance of who she really is and just why she should be loved.
As usual with the rest of this series, the novel is action-packed. I loved the way that Andrea and Raphael interacted; I have always been a fan of them as a couple, but this novel in my opinion took that to new heights. Raphael’s quest to win Andrea back, knowing that she harbored feelings for him, was fantastic. One of my favorite moments was when he carved “MINE” into her kitchen table, a perfect summation of shapeshifter feelings and courtship. If she hadn’t loved him, this might well have been creepy, but in the book it works perfectly, as does Andrea’s retaliation.
Overall, I didn’t find that Gunmetal Magic ever really reached the heights that the books featuring Kate do, mainly because it didn’t quite give me that feel of desperately saving the world that Kate’s books usually manage, but I sincerely hope that there are more featuring Andrea. This could be the start of a fantastic spin-off series.
Also included in this volume is the novella Magic Gifts, which does feature Kate, and lines up with the story in the first part of Gunmetal Magic. Some reviews have advised to read this first; I didn’t read those reviews, so I read this one second. I did think it would probably have been better first, because those parts would have been fresher in my mind, but I certainly wasn’t complaining. I missed this story when it was posted on the Ilona Andrews website (I have since become a devoted follower) and I was very happy to get it, and a little bit of Kate, at the same time. It helps that this story is a good one and brings Kate and all of her gathered crew together to save a little boy from a choking magic necklace.
All I have left to say, really, is when is the next book coming out again? I’ll be first in line to buy it.
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