Monday, April 8, 2013

Gunmetal Magic: A Review

Gunmetal Magic
Written by: Ilona Andrews
Softcover: 326 pages
Publisher: Ace
Language: English
July 2012, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Kate Daniels series 5.5

After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano--the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea's former lover--die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world...

Sometimes when you read a book series you get completely sucked in. You imagine yourself in the lives of those characters. It’s this perfect little movie series in your head and it’s a wonderful place to get sucked into. A really good author and book series not only creates a full-fledged world with its own rules and structure but it creates secondary characters that you grow to love just as much as the primary character (kind of like how the Scoobies are just as important and fun to get to know as Buffy was). There aren’t too many authors who do it well but my favorite writing duo of Ilona Andrews makes me want to get to know more than just Kate Daniels and Mr. Kitty himself, Curran. I want to know more about Andrea about the other members of this great Atlanta that I have grown to love. But more importantly I want to know about shapeshifter politics. How different clans work because I think this is something that Ilona Andrews has managed to do fairly well within its mythology.

So when I saw that there was another book set in the same universe and it was all about Andrea, I was excited. Though admittedly a bit worried that it might be a little heavy on the romance the way that the Edge series. But since I can’t have more Kate adventures until July of this year, I decided to pick it up.

Now poor Andrea hasn’t had the most amazing past couple of years. In short she has kind of been life’s bitch. After her last job discovered that she was a shapeshifter they kicked her out though of course said it more nicely citing PTSD as well as a number of things that meant she could no longer work for them. For Andrea being a knight of the Order was the one place where she had control. She felt peace and was definitely at home with all of the guns and weapons. But now that is gone. She is having nightmares from when she was a child now that she is being forced to choose of joining the boudas or leave their territory. And she is no longer with her mate Raphael.

But she does have her best friend Kate and their business Cutting Edge Investigations and that seems to be without troubles save for the no cases bit. When she is approached to do a case involving one of the Pack’s businesses being hit and leaving members dead, Kate is not around to take the lead. Andrea steps up even though the business is run by her ex Raphael. She will solve this case on her own, and with a few friends along, even if it kills her in the end.

Things I loved: I like Andrea. She is different than Kate although they are both awesome kick ass and often snarky chicks. But it makes sense that she and Kate are close. However, like I said, they are also different. Kate can be impulsive and she thrives on chaos as much as she may deny it. Andrea, on the other hand, needs order and is definitely more reserved and plans her attack rather than rushing in. She is tough and organized, methodical when it comes to certain things and I can appreciate that. She is only rash and impulsive when Raphael is involved. Can you blame her? Love makes you do the wacky.

But I think one of the reasons I like Andrea is how much she has been through. In a way she is like my Kara Thrace and apparently I like the beautifully damaged. We are seeing Andrea at a pretty low point in her life. You feel for her and I can relate to her. It’s hard when you throw everything into one area of your life, the one that makes sense and the one you thought you could control and then it betrays you. Then again sometimes giving up control or exploring those other parts of your life that scare you can be a good thing. And it certainly is for Andrea. It’s not healthy to reject parts of yourself. We are who we are because of the whole not just the individual parts.

I think maybe that is why I like Andrea. I saw her pick up the pieces in this novel, though admittedly I would have been okay to have it be gradual instead of quickly in the span of just one novel. Ilona and Gordon have to be given a shiny gold star for making Andrea and Kate two different people. In the end sorry Andrea, but Kate wins. However, I can relate to Andrea a bit more and we both can have Kate as our bestie.

Now Raphael. I know some readers have never really liked him. He’s too pretty, too much of a player and yet I loved their romance in the Kate books. While yes he did a bad thing by making Andrea choose and now that we know her background can you blame her for her choice? But Andrea was just as at fault. I cannot imagine not knowing what has happened to someone, constantly searching hospitals and morgues, praying that the love of your life is not there.

Now he didn’t get any points at the beginning of this book and I was Team Andrea all the way. I was even Team Roman (snarky, charming, adorable dark magic volhv that he is). Seriously aren’t there any normal looking peeps in urban fantasy anymore, but that’s a tirade for another time. But then I learned where Raphael was coming from. And he learned where Andrea was coming from. Seriously, I hate the Boudas, especially Raphael’s mother Aunt B. And yet I can also understand why B is the way that she is as well. Pack society is just interesting. I must admit that while I still dislike Aunt B, I also understand things a bit more and some the scenes between Andrea and Aunt B were quite funny.

Like the Kate books, this well written, nicely paced and I enjoyed the overall plot, though admittedly seems like a re-tread of something Kate has faced. But points for trying.

Things I didn’t love so much: While a bit heavier on the romance and more akin to the Edge series on that particular bit just set in the Kate verse, I still liked it. Admittedly it was a bit more flat compared to Kate and I can’t really put my finger on why. I think maybe it was because the romance was a bit heavier and both Andrea and Raphael made me want to hit them with something heavy on occasion. It also felt rushed and was missing the spark that the Kate books have.

While I like the fact that newcomers to the Magic series can kind of just jump in and read this one, as it feels very much like a monster of the week episode in the overall series where the lone gunmen are forefront instead of just Scully and Mulder, it also took a bit for it to reach its stride. The beginning really does feel like an alterna Kate and it wasn’t until the latter half of the book where I felt that Andrea really became her own person and Raphael wasn’t just a Curran copycat.

I also think that while I enjoyed the plot, it was too easy. Here was a bad guy who shouldn’t have been so easily vanquished and too complex for the monster of the week feel that the book felt like. While the pacing was nice, it was almost too quick as we neared the end.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. While yes I have complaints and though not as strong as when Kate is the lead, this was a nice outing to get to understand and learn more about a character I do enjoy. Worthwhile if you are a completest like me when it comes to your series.

Part of: a Series. The Magic ______ series also known as Kate Daniels.

Also Recommended: Of course if you liked the romance bits, I would recommend the other series by Gordon and Ilona with the Edge series. If you like your plot more than your romance I would recommend the Mercy series by Patricia Briggs. Other great Urban Fantasy that isnt just vampires and werewolves are the Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire and the creatures that exist in the cities of Matthew Swift (Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin), Felix Castor (The Devil You Know by Mike Carey) and Harry Dresden by Jim Butcher.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 


Barry Shaffner said...

Was this a sequel to the anthology story about Raph and Andrea? That story was Magic Mourns and appears in the Anthology MUST LOVE HELLHOUNDS with Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, and Meljean Brook joining Ilona Andrews in the book.

Smirking Revenge said...

Kind of. Obviously through the series we have had hints and then finally a relationship with Raph and Andrea. This takes place after the fallout of the events from Magic Bleeds where Erra came to town.