Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
Title: Gunmetal Magic
Author: Ilona Andrews
Rating: 4 Stars
Gunmetal Magic is an amazing beginning to what is sure to be a fantastic spin-off series from Ilona Andrews. But, then again, I expected nothing less. While I suspect I've been reading too much of Ilona Andrews and too little of it that actually features Kate as a protagonist lately, I was still more than a little pleased to be back in this world. One of the biggest surprises of Ilona Andrews is the fact that despite the formulaic quality of their books, even with a protagonist who isn't Kate, they always manage to pull it off in a way that leaves the reader feeling as if they read a completely new story every time. With such complex and detailed characters, though, it isn't too hard to see why.
If you don't already know, Gunmetal Magic is the story of Andrea Nash, Kate Daniel's best friend, beastkin, and ex-Knight of the Order. Oh, let's not forget ex-girlfriend of one rather sexy bouda named Raphael. Gunmetal Magic picks up with Andrea and Raphael only recently broken up and with Andrea still nursing her wounds from being kicked out of the Order. Now, she not only has to decide whether or not to join the Pack, but she also has to help solve a crime...with Raphael. Who, it turns out, is engaged. If you thought the tension in Kate's life was bad, then welcome to Andrea's world.
As it turns out, Kate and Andrea, while seemingly similar on the surface, are really completely different people. It would be impossible to get their voices mixed up because of how unique they are from one another and while we saw a glimpse of this with the short e-novella Magic Mourns, we feel that all the more clearly with a full-fledged Andrea novel. What I loved the most, in terms of comparisons between Kate and Andrea, is the fact that both of them regard the other as having it better than they do. When we were in Kate's head, we were constantly privy to her slight jealousy at the fact that Andrea had found someone who could love her for her, and now in Andrea's head, we feel a return of that slight jealousy as she looks at Kate and Curran, still utterly lovesick with one another. It's such a clever and subtle dynamic, but I love that Ilona Andrews makes it known as it makes their friendship seem that much more authentic.
Nevertheless, Gunmetal Magic is Andrea's story and although Kate and Andrea are best friends, Kate is only a small part of it. With Magic Mourns, we were briefly recounted the brutal past that Andrea faced, making her the tough woman she is today, but with Gunmetal Magic, we go even deeper to see the psychological ramifications that past has had on Andrea. Even more so, we can see how difficult it is for others to understand her actions, even Raphael. I love that this novel, despite its usual infusion of myth, lore, and kick-ass battle scenes, was in equal parts filled with growth, on both Andrea and Raphael's sides, as they came to understand each other on deeper emotional levels. Andrea, too, is much more complex character than we originally give her credit for and seeing the multiple layers to her made me appreciate her much more as a character.
Gunmetal Magic continues to shine in the romance department and while I'll never be a Raphael fan-girl - I suspect it's hard to once you're so firmly besotted with Curran - I still ate up the sexual tension between him and Andrea and was thrilled by the slow, tortuous, yet meaningful path their eventual reconciliation took. It still remains to be, though, that Gunmetal Magic is the beginning of a spin-off series and this, sadly, was painfully evident. Not only was this book shorter than the Kate Daniels novels, but it also felt slightly more disjointed in terms of plot structure. Although I still thoroughly enjoyed it, I suspect it would lag as a series without the Kate Daniels books to support it. Nevertheless, I eagerly look forward to more from Ilona Andrews, especially this spin-off series since I can't wait to be back in Andrea's head. Only after I've been back in Kate's head first though. I suspect I'm missing Curran too much.