In any series, world building and maintaining concepts is important for insuring authenticity. And while the good writers do this, it is the great ones who go above and beyond by expanding upon their original ideas. In Magic Burns (2008), the second installment in the Magic series by Ilona Andrews, this has been done in two key areas; the magic waves and the shape shifters.
Andrea took a deep breath. “I’m beastkin.”
In most books I’ve read involving shapeshifters, the creatures are werewolves and nothing else. Ilona brought new life to this concept in Magic Bites by making shapeshifting a product of the Lyc-V which can infect people with the DNA of a myriad number of animals, thus expanding the concept of shaper shifters to rats, hyenas, bears, and many more. The author also created were beasts, animals whom the Lyc-V infected with human DNA which allows them to transform into a person. The concept is impressive, but Ilona Andrews wasn’t content to sit upon their laurels and expanded this concept in Magic Burns.
Werebeasts are usually sterile, mute, retarded creatures who have no understanding of society and its laws, and are usually killed by other shape shifters. However, they occasionally have sufficient mental faculty to live peacefully within society and–in even rare occurrences–are capable of producing offspring. The children of such an occurrence are beastkin who face extreme persecution by other shapshifters because they are children of animals, which flys in the face of what the Code teaches.
I loved how Ilona Andrews had injected new life into the shapeshifter concept and in the second book she doesn’t disappoint. Not just because they maintain the concept, but they expand on it, leading to groundwork for future novels.
A flare was coming. If normal shifts were magic waves, a flare was a magic tsunami. It started as a series of shallow magic fluctuations, quickly falling and rising, but never leaving the world. During those short waves, the magic didn’t completely fall, coming back stronger and stronger until it finally drowned us in an enormous surge.
Ilona Andrews came up with a unique way to incorporate magic in the novels and that was in the form of waves. When a magic wave hits skyscrapers crumble, trees grow like their on steroids, and mages hurl fireballs with abandon. When they fall cars work, fire balls are snuffed out, and the police can shoot said mages with their now working guns. This seesaw action creates interesting and plot twisting battles as the shift can never be predicted. It’s the most unique concept for the incorporation of magic I’ve ever seen, but once again, Ilona Andrews didn’t leave it there.
In Magic Burns, Atlanta is on the verge of a a flare which occurs once very seven years and lasts for three days. With each successive flare the world becomes more deeply entrenched in magic, until a time comes where the mystical will be firmly entrenched and the mundane will be a thing of the past. Flares are dangerous, however, and permit impossible feats of magic such as gods and goddesses walking the Earth–a concept that Kate Daniels has to deal with in this book.
World building is important in any novel as well as maintaining it. What I love best about Magic Burns is that it not only upholds this, but expands upon world building, making new concepts that much more interesting.
Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post, nor the book quotes, and have no artistic claim to either.