When her dear family friend Greg is killed in mysterious circumstances, Kate Daniels goes on the hunt for his killer. She is a mercenary, if a poorly-paid one, with impressive magic skills and a tough attitude. Kate doesn’t expect to be drawn into a dangerous rivalry between vampires and shapeshifters, but she might just be up to the challenge as she searches for the enemy who is intent on turning these two powerful groups of society against one another.
This was markedly and interestingly different from the urban fantasy I’ve been reading lately. Yes, it has the traditional kick-butt heroine, as well as a large contingent of typical supernatural creatures, like vampires. But this world is not a familiar one, even if the book is set in Atlanta. For one thing, the magic is only up sometimes, and while it is average human technology often fails to work, until everything returns to normal before the next wave of magic. For another, these creatures are not sexy. Vampires are properly disgusting, their bodies morphing into hideous wall-crawling creatures as their minds completely vanish. They’re controlled by external people, who can even speak through them. Shapeshifters are similarly disgusting, their most powerful form lying between human and beast, and when they change they end up sweaty, naked, and shaking in human form.
I’ll admit that when I started this book, that world was not what I expected. I expected the magical creatures to be as sexy as they are in the rest of the books I’ve read. As I got accustomed to the world, however, I began to like this darker version of an urban fantasy world. It felt like something different, and while I obviously still love Sookie Stackhouse and Mercy Thompson, it was nice to be in a world where blood sucking is disgusting as I always thought it should be.
The beginning of the book was a little too consumed with info dumping to my taste, and Kate is snarky to the point of pushing people away, but somewhere around halfway through I really started to enjoy it. The plot picked up, I had a suspect for the bad guy, and there are some entertaining diversions. This is a good story, and I’m looking forward to more in this world when I don’t have to be informed all about it before I can begin to be engaged.
Magic Bites is a different, but still very engaging, version of urban fantasy. It appeals to my gritty fantasy side but would probably still appeal to fans of books with tough heroines and engaging storylines. Recommended.
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