Sunday, August 12, 2012

...On Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World #1) by Ilona Andrews

Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea's former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate ... and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world ...
In Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews, the first full length spin off book set in the Kate Daniel's world featuring Andrea as the narrator, the Andrews writing team returns to Egypt and a hungry-for-glory god to set up the mythology that provides the action and meat for Andrea's investigation of four shapeshifter's found dead at one of Raphael's working sites. In the meantime Andrea and Raphael are dealing with the aftermath of their breakup but neither is taking it well so that bad decisions, passions and drama ensue.

Andrea - I like her narrative voice and think that she's kickass enough to make a great urban fantasy heroine. She is excellent at handling weapons, her shapeshifting abilities and alpha attitude give her an advantage as a fighter and she can definitely conduct a detailed investigation. Andrea, however, seems to have little knowledge of ancient mythological gods and artifacts to prepare her for situations like the ones she confronted in this story. She is slow in seeking much needed help from the right people which shows poor judgment, and as a result her investigation is needlessly long-drawn.

Arcanio - I love the way Andrea mentors the young bad bouda Arcanio in this story. Their scenes together are a combination of action packed fun times, Andrea setting Arcanio straight, and some surprisingly touching moments. I find it interesting that it is through Arcanio that Andrea's background story is completely revealed and love his reaction to that revelation. Those two bonded and I'm looking forward to a continued "mentorship/partnership" of sorts. His is a character with great potential.

Roman - In this story, the Black Volhv serves as both the magical help Andrea needs to solve her case and the comedy relief (You Shall Not Pass!! Really? LOL). I absolutely love his character. There he is with his black magic and his wicked staff spouting black spells one moment and bad pick-up lines the next, making things funny and light during the darkest of moments. He's a character I want to see again!

Raphael - All along I've liked Raphael's relentless love for Andrea, his deceptive beauty and easy going personality. Raphael takes a back seat in the action during the first half of this story, although he is very much in Andrea's mind and in the forefront when it comes to the romance. His easygoing personality has undergone a severe change and in this story we meet an intense, focused Raphael. He's focused on his businesses for Clan Bouda and pissed at Andrea while simultaneously going through the mating frenzy. So, it's a rather volatile shapeshifter and a definite Alpha we meet in Gunmetal Magic. I liked that about Raphael, even if yeah... his way of getting back at Andrea was messed up!!

As always I love the way the Andrews writing team set up a story, action, and characters. I had no problem with the plotting and didn't think that the story lacked interest. It was a great way of getting Andrea's character to finally make some decisions about herself and her future. What I find rather interesting is the emphasis on romance in this urban fantasy installment. Romance is definitely on the forefront and through to the end with a happy ending. In that way it is very different from the Kate and Curran relationship which took a long time to develop and resolve within the series.

Boudas are passionate, volatile, and very dramatic while they're going through their courtship. In that they are different from the other shapeshifters we've seen so far in this series, and the courtship between Raphael and Andrea is an excellent example of all the drama. As Kate Daniels says in this book, (and I'm paraphrasing here) Andrea and Raphael's courtship "is rather like a Spanish soap opera," -- drama, passion and unnecessary angst, with more drama thrown in for good measure. I loved watching Spanish soap operas at one time, so of course I enjoyed the whole thing. ;P

My one big disappointment? Andrea and Aunt B's confrontation. Although the way things went down made sense (when I think about it, it really did), I expected something more dramatic from these two alpha female boudas when they got together.

Gunmetal Magic was an enjoyable read for me, with Andrea as the central character showing both strengths and weaknesses. The secondary characters were definitely a big plus in this story, and the plot was good, but not different enough to set it apart from others in the Kate Daniels' series to make it really "belong" to Andrea. I loved the passion, drama and unnecessary angst that the bouda shapeshifters Andrea and Raphael brought to the romance, and the fact that said romance was a focus in this story -- that was a surprisingly nice change. An overall solid read.

Commentary: I'm not sure how this book would read as the first book of a separate series -- or a stand alone. I recommend readers at least pick up the novellas Magic Mourns and Magic Gifts before reading this book.

Category: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels World
Publisher/Release Date: Ace/July 31, 2012
Grade: B

Visit Ilona Andrews here.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for the rec! I hate when I don't really know if a book would stand alone or if more info is needed.

    This book sounds pretty interesting :D


    Thanks for the review.

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    1. Alex, me too! I prefer to know if there's a need to read another book that will fill me in... even if most of the time I go ahead and read the book anyway. LOL!

      This is a great series, Alex. :D

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  2. Hi Hilcia,
    Great review! I liked your breakdown of the characters who are front and center in this spin-off. I just read this myself and had some of the same issues with it that you did including this: "My one big disappointment? Andrea and Aunt B's confrontation." There really wasn't much of a confrontation and I wanted to see more of the inner workings of Clan Bouda with Aunt B as it's alpha and how Andrea (being beastkin) joining the pack would impact them and the rest of the clans.

    "The secondary characters were definitely a big plus in this story, and the plot was good, but not different enough to set it apart from others in the Kate Daniels' series to make it really "belong" to Andrea." You nail what my biggest issue was in one sentence! The plot and Egyptian god mythology was a Kate gig through and through so perhaps a set up for the next Kate narrated novel?

    Speaking of Kate I really enjoyed seeing her and Curran through Andrea's eyes and getting a vivid picture of what Kate looks like for the first time!

    I completely agree with you regarding Roman, I loved him! and he was a fantastic addition to this novel as was Andrea's new sidekick, Ascanio ;) Also we got a bit more info on Barabas as well which was great.

    Unfortunately for me Raphael and Andrea's mating and angst did not work as well for me as they did for you. I thought their story was better told in MAGIC MOURNS and this novel just dragged out their hang ups and to be honest Raphael was just not memorable for me this time around :(

    Overall I really liked this spin-off and I'm DYING to read the Dali & Jim spin-off they have planned that will continue their story from MAGIC DREAMS!

    Thanks,
    Negine

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    1. Negine, great response! On Aunt B and Andrea? I agree... I just didn't want to give away any spoilers, but yeah, that was a big nothing, although because of the way the Clans work, it made sense that it worked out that way. I do imagine that if Andrea is feature is more books, Clan Bouda's inner workings and the rest of the conflicts you mention WILL be featured, at least I hope they will. I think the focus of this first book was Andrea herself and her personal issues.

      The plot with Egyptian mythology, although somewhat tailored to Andrea (the firsts and beastkin connection), reminded me TOO much of Kate. Maybe once Kate's series is over, the Andrew's team can move on and make the stories fit Andrea.

      And LOL on Raphael and Andrea's uber-dramatic romance. I didn't think that would work for a lot of readers! The ups and downs and the drama were over the top at times, but I think they were done that way on purpose. Raphael definitely took a backseat to other characters (note that he's fourth on my list above). LOL!

      I enjoyed reading this, and it's funny but I'm not DYING to read about Dali & Jim. You know why? Jim didn't impress me during Magic Dreams, even though I loved, loved Dali. I think I expected more from the enigmatic Jim than I got on that novella. :(

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  3. Very nice review, Hils!! I really enjoyed the secondary characters in this one. Ascanio and Roman... I do hope Roman will become a more prominent character in the series :) And LOL, Kate has Derek as her side-kick. Guess Andrea has just gotten hers :P

    I have to agree with Negine, the angst in Andrea and Raphael's relationship did not work for me. It was okay at the beginning, but I felt it was dragged on too long. Also, the mystery wasn't quite there. The idea was great, but usually, the mystery is equal part important with the relationship and I didn't get that in this book.

    Dali & Jim!! Can't wait for them to have their full-length novel!!

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    1. Nath, I really loved Ascanio and Roman! LOL, I thought of Derek/Kate when Ascanaio became Andrea's sidekick. Ascanio makes a greeeat sidekick. But Roman is just too much fun! I love his funny, bad lines. Oh and his dumb black magic. LOL!

      On Raphael and Andrea's romance, (see my response to Negine) but yeah... I didn't think that whole drama would go well with lots of readers, with the unnecessary angst, etc. And you know what? THAT's what I meant when I said above that the ROMANCE took precedence over the rest in this UF installment! The mystery was okay... but it was surprising that the romance was such a central focus. Right?

      Dali & Jim? As I said to Negine, I loved, loved Dali. I HOPE that JIM won't let me down in the full-length novel. He was just not there for me in the novella. He was NOT himself, Nath. Not the Alpha, enigmatic Jim we know. Sooo... I'm hoping, otherwise I will definitely be disappointed.

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