Title: Magic Rises (Kate Daniels, #6)
Author: Ilona Andrews
Rating: 3 Stars
When it comes to a Kate Daniels novel, I'd tell you that disliking one of these books is like disliking chocolate; you may not like it as much as another brand, but you still love it because it's still chocolate. Sadly, that is not the case with Magic Rises. Ilona Andrews's latest installment in their breathtaking series is a massive disappointment. In fact, the characters are so out of their usual molds, the plot so very flimsy, and the very romance we've come to love so very ridiculous that this hardly feels like Kate Daniels. I've never said it before - and it shocks me to even be saying this now - but the truth is, after five Kate Daniels novels, four Kate Daniels novellas, three Edge books, and one Kate Daniels companion book, Ilona Andrews has finally managed to disappoint me.
Magic Rises starts off promising enough, falling seamlessly back into Kate's easy narration, wonderful voice, and classic wit. It hardly feels as if we've been waiting months for this book because the story draws you back into this world so fully. When the Pack begins to face the reality that many of their children are going loup, Kate and Curran can hardly turn down an offer from three European packs to act as a neutral party between them during a dispute. Thus, the Beast Lord, his Consort, and a great many of their fellow pack members find themselves journeying to Europe. Where shit hits the fan.
Now, this wouldn't be a Kate Daniels novel if the world didn't crumble into chaos, so naturally, the universe must comply by throwing impossible situations Kate's way. For the past few novels, Ilona Andrews have been building up Kate's back story, particularly her interesting relationship with Hugh D'Ambray who nearly mirrors Kate herself. Not only do they both fight in a similar and synchronized style, but Voron was a father-figure to them both. Thus, when Kate realizes that the situation in Europe was a plot, not to lure the Beast Lord, but to lure her into leaving Georgia, the tables are turned. Ilona Andrews masterfully weaves a game of cat-and-mouse between Kate and Hugh, having them circle each other warily while building unique character dynamics between the two for, despite their similarities, they are enemies.
While the crux of this novel is focused on the intriguing situation Kate finds herself in - meeting Hugh in Europe - the entirety of the novel is not solely this issue. For one, there is constant arguing between the European packs. Needless to say, this provided a fresh dose of entertainment and new insight into more packs than simply than run by Curran. Additionally, seeing the Pack support Kate in an outside environment was nothing short of touching. We've seen Kate grow into her role as Consort, but to see the Pack also accept this role when she isn't in the stable environment of the Keep was a welcome surprise. Unfortunately, this is where the excellence ceases in Magic Rises.
Although there were many flaws within this novel - most notably the total glossing over of a major character's death and some very convenient plot holes - my main issue arises with Kate and Curran's relationship. One of the reasons the Kate Daniels Series is so popular is because Kate and Curran have an upfront no-nonsense relationship from the start. Not only are they perfectly matched in terms of wit and fighting prowess, but as a couple they have stuck together despite many unlikely odds. Thus, to suddenly see Kate and Curran go back in time, revisiting prior trust issues they had already worked through, was a surprise. Actually, seeing them shift through pages of relationship angst and drama was even more of a surprise - an unpleasant one.
When it comes to drama/angst in a relationship, I am usually not found anywhere near. And yet, I especially hate when petty drama/angst is brought up once two people are already in a loving and sustaining relationship. In my eyes, this plot thread was completely unnecessary. It did nothing for Kate and Curran's relationship arc except raise doubts about their future as a couple and, frankly speaking, I am upset. I find it hard to believe that two such rational people could have behaved so out-of-character in this installment and the ending of this novel did little to reassure me. Curran has been completely knocked off my pedestal of Swoonworthy UF Heroes and replaced by Adam Hauptman (take that Beast Lord)! I've been a champion of Curran for a long time, but his actions in this novel were uncalled for.
In retrospect, it seems silly to be getting so worked up over a mere relationship, but the crux of this series is Kate and what makes Kate tick is her mercenary status. Thus, to see Kate break out of that mold and learn to fall in love and trust someone else is a huge aspect of her character arc. Kate is independent, strong, and completely self-reliant, but Curran plays an extremely important role in crafting her to become who she is - someone who has learned to open their heart to others. As such, to see their relationship veer on such a twisted road thoroughly ruins both this book and the future of the series. At this point, I can only hope that the next Kate book is far better than this one. Magic Rises certainly has its strong point, but it is sadly nowhere close to being Ilona Andrews best.
Links to Reviews for Kate Daniels #1-5: