Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews is the third book in the Kate Daniels series. The first two books are Magic Bites and Magic Burns. This is definitely a series, so starting at book 1 is a good idea.
In these books we find ourselves in our world except that magic has returned. Or, at least it has somewhat returned. There are times when “magic” works very well. These are termed magic waves. When magic is up, you can do spells and various scary things gain power. Things like cars tend not to work in these periods. When the magic wave subsides, technology works again. The magic waves also tend to eat away at thing, like skyscrapers, that would have required a high technology to build–kind of an increased entropy. From bits that drop here and there, it would seem that we had just been experiencing a long drought of magic and that magic had been operating in the past. This is the source of many of our myths and legends. I found this world premise very nicely worked out. It flows smoothly showing that the author has spent some time thinking things through. I really like it when authors do this.
In the midst of this world, we find Kate Daniels. Kate is around 25. She has very good fighting skills in general and excellent sword skills in specific. She also has strong magical skills of a couple varieties (there are multiple ways to manipulate magical powers while the magic is up). She is a heroine of the self-sufficient, somewhat wisecracking variety that I generally like. She doesn’t just happen to have all of these skills, but has a very interesting back story that we have gradually learned through the course of these three books. It isn’t exposing much to just say that her father is a powerful figure who wouldn’t be pleased to even know of her existence. She has inherited her magical abilities from her father and gained her fighting skills from her “stepfather.” She is currently living in Atlanta. Atlanta has been heavily modified by the magic waves, but is still a functioning city.
Various groups maintain (or try to) law and order. The government is still mostly functioning in a recognizable fashion and so there are various police forces. Kate is a member of both a mercenary organization and a group called the “Order of Merciful Aid.” The Order provides assistance to people needing help from magical problems. They provide this semi free, but the catch is that they do whatever is necessary. For example, if you call them because your grandmother has become a monster of some sort, the help you receive may be that grandma gets “removed” rather than cured (there may be no cure).
There are many varieties of shapeshifters (and other beings) in this world. Shapeshifters must maintain firm mental and physical discipline to prevent Lyc-V, the virus that causes lycanthropy, from running amok and basically causing them to go dangerously insane. This results in basically a strict hierarchical social structure for them. The local (Atlantan) shapeshifters are called the “Pack” and are under the control of Cullen, the Beast Lord, who happens to be a) a lion shapeshifter and b) attracted to Kate. This provides the romantic portions of the plots. So far, this has been decently handled, although it is probably my least favorite part of the storyline. I’m never that enthralled with the girl falling for mega-hero portions of stories. In this case, so far, Kate has been resilient enough for that part of the story not to out weigh others.
Vampires also exist. Definitely not the sparkly kind. Here, vampires are again the result of a disease that turns them into blood craving, mindless killers. Mostly, they are under psychic control of various “Masters of the Undead.”
In each of the books, all of these pieces intertwine nicely. In Magic Strikes, Kate comes across a scene where a shapeshifter has been murdered. As she investigates further into this, she is lead to the Midnight Games. These are an invitation only tournament, often to the death. What the linkage between these events is will let us explore Kate’s past and help set up events for the future.
Magic Strikes is a fine addition to a fun series. It is well paced with a lot of good action and a fine background. I found it quite enjoyable.