Things Go BOOM: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks is the seventh novel in wife-and-husband writing team Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, set in a version of our world where the return of magic has made technology unreliable, and made surviving in a world of werewolves, necromancers, witches, mythological beasts, and carnivorous things in the night more dangerous than ever.

Fortunately for her, Kate Daniels is one of the most dangerous people around. Unfortunately, her father is even more dangerous still. And now that he knows of her existence, he’s coming for her.

I’ve said it before about series novels: if you’ve been reading the series to date, you already have a pretty good idea of whether or not you’re interested in reading this new instalment. If you haven’t… well, Magic Breaks is definitely not the spot to start: its major confrontation is one that the series has been building towards from the very beginning, and it relies on previous volumes to give its relationships—between Kate and her partner, the Beast Lord Curran, and between Kate and her primary enemy, Hugh d’Ambray—the necessary emotional weight and heft for them to carry the story. In particular, it relies on the events of Magic Rises for context and for a large amount of Hugh d’Ambray’s menace.

Spoilers ahead.

As Magic Rises opens, Kate finds herself left in charge of the Pack in Atlanta. Curran and several of the were alphas are taking a diplomatic trip, leaving Kate to attend the regular conclave with the necromancers of Atlanta as the Pack’s representative. The “People,” as they call themselves, owe allegiance to Kate’s father Roland—a man born thousands of years ago, whose powers approach the godlike. Kate revealed her power (and her lineage) to Hugh d’Ambray, Roland’s right-hand man, during the course of Magic Rises, and it cost her some good friends. Now she knows Roland must be gunning for her and no one is safe—so it’s really not a surprise when d’Ambray shows up at the meeting with evidence from a staged crime, essentially challenging the Pack to a war.

With a spy among her own ranks, and her partner beyond her reach, it’s up to Kate to keep her people safe. With Hugh d’Ambray pursuing her all over Atlanta, Roland looming in the wings, and trouble with the alphas, it’s not going to be an easy job.

Magic Breaks has Andrews’ usual blend of hectic action and wisecracking banter. The story hits the ground running and only speeds up from there. Confrontations and running battles come thick and fast, leaving little time for reflection or meaningful character interaction or development: even when Kate is trapped in a water-filled cell to drown or to starve to death, the narrative is deeply uninterested in interiority.

Well, that’s not the kind of book this is. I didn’t really expect otherwise.

Kate’s confrontations with Hugh d’Ambray are well-done. There’s an interesting tense prison-break from a weird tower-prison. Kate meets her grandmother’s bones. And when the confrontation we’ve been building up to for six books now actually takes place… it’s actually a bit of a let-down. Roland isn’t nearly terrifying enough for the bogeyman the series has built him up as, and his and Kate’s eventual détente doesn’t really feel earned.

Maybe I was expecting too much.

The resolution and dénouement marks a major change in Kate and Curran’s circumstances, while leaving room for the series to continue.

Magic Breaks is a fun book but not a deep one. It’s a solid series instalment. I found it entertaining for an hour, but it doesn’t really provoke me to strong feelings one way or another. It does what it sets out to do, and things go BOOM along the way.

Magic Breaks is available July 29th from Ace.


Liz Bourke is a cranky person who reads books. Her blog. Her Twitter.

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