Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic… 

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The Magic series by Ilona Andrews is a new take on the urban fantasy genre that I fell in love with the day I read the first book Magic Bites and have obsessively read each and every installment that has followed. With Magic Binds (the 9th main installment and the 13th over all) slated for release on September 20th, I thought I’d share the five things that made me fall in love with the series.

I thought of telling him that if it wasn’t for Oklahoman cowboys and Mexican whores having a bit of fun, there would’ve been no Texans, but that would be counterproductive. One didn’t call a knight-protector a whoreson in his own office.

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Without a shadow of a doubt, the humor is at the top of my reasons for liking this series. I’m a rather serious person and it takes a monumental effort to so much as pry a chuckle out of me. Yet sections like the passage above didn’t just have me snickering, they had laugh-induced tears streaming down my face as I split at the seams. The fact that the novels are written in first person and this humor is woven throughout the story gives Kate Daniels–the protagonist–a witty and unique voice that I instantly admired.

Among the snapechangers, wolves were the most numerous, then came foxes, the jackals, the rats, and then the hyenas and smaller felines: lynxes, bobcats, and cheetahs.

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Mythological creatures have been a staple of modern fiction to the point of becoming so prevalent that finding a new and interesting way to depict them can be a challenge. Ilona Andrews found a way to do just that and a better exampled can’t be found than with the shape shifters and vampires that are part of the world archetype.

Traditionally, the only shape shifters that I’ve read about are werwolves who ‘bite’ and then infect people, turning them into monsters. In the Magic series, shape shifters exist as a result of the Lycos Virus which steals human and animal DNA, performing random swaps which leads to the most unique thing about the shape shifters–werewolves aren’t the only ones. There are were rats, werbears, werhyenas (or boudas) and many more, something I haven’t seen before and creates for a unique read.

Nude and hairless, it didn’t carry a single ounce of fat on its lean frame. Its skin stretched so tight over the hard cords of muscle, it threatened to snap.

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The vampires are another excellent example. Starting with Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and straight up to the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer, we’ve been conditioned to view vampires as these immortal beings who drink your blood. What most people don’t realize, is that prior to Bram Stoker, the vampires were portrayed as little more than bloated corpses that haunted family members and fed on the dead. Try having Bella kiss one of those.

Ilona Andrew’s depiction of the vampire is both new and old. They have more in common with the original legends, but are still portrayed in a new way as mindless monsters who’d slaughter everything in sight if they weren’t kept under the control of the Navigators or Necromancers as they’re called. With one series after another using the vampire archetype simply to convey a human/vampire romance, it was nice to see something new.

Words so primal, so dangerous, so powerful that they commanded the raw magic itself.

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In a series titled with the big M, there of course has to be magic. What I love is that Ilona Andrews doesn’t limit it to one type. Every faction has their own brand based on ethnicity, culture, and place of origin. It can even be determined by what gods you worship. In the midst of this is one universal form of magic–words of power. With the fewest number of users and the greatest cost, they are expertly woven into the stories and are the main type of magic that Kate uses. As implied, she doesn’t use them often, which fits into the rules set up for them. When they are used however, interesting things occur.

The magic had hit while I was packing the essentials into my bag and I had to take Karmelion instead of my regular car. A beat-up rusted truck, bile green in color and missing the left headlight assembly, Karmelion had only one advantage–it ran on water infused with magic and could be driven during a magic wave.

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More than the diversity of magic, its the magic itself that makes the series so unique. Unlike other fictional novels that place magic alongside real world settings, it exists in Kate’s world with conditions, better known as waves. When a magic wave hits technology fails, leading to stalled cars, jammed guns, and the sudden absence of electricity. In its place monsters are summoned, magical apocalypses are unleashed, and psychopathic pyromancers can rain death from above. This see-sawing, back and forth battle creates a unique concept that leads to hilarious moments and crazy battles as the proverbial ball is knocked chaotically from one court to the other, keeping the reader–and Kate Daniels–on their toes.

The Bank of America plaza went down down first, followed by the SunTrust skyscraper. One Atlantic Center, the Peachtree Plaza, even the new Coca-Cola building took a dive. The Georgia Dome crashed before the proverbial dust cleared, and the rest of the monuments to the engineering might of man raced to commit seppuku in the face of the magic onslaught.

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While I’ve read plenty of fictitious books set in real-life settings, I’ve never read one that has been written so accurately. The buildings or areas described in the book actually exist in Atlanta, GA or–as is the case in a post-magical apocalypse–they did exist and something was built in their place. Regardless of where Kate is in Atlanta, every place is described in accurate, believable detail as if this is what the city would look like if various factions had come to exist after magic tore our world apart.

The Magic series has been one of my favorite sense Magic Bites released in 2007 and with each new installment, these five points have been there, dragging me along a crazy and insanely trilling ride that I can’t get enough of. As the release of Magic Binds inches ever closer, I eagerly await the chance to read Kate Daniels next adventure, and to once again be thrilled by the five reasons I first I fell in love with the series.

Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this post and have no artistic claim to it. The italicized quotes are from Magic Bites and I have no claim to those either.

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