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i made it to the bloody end.

July 2, 2011

Because I promised I would, I finished Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, an urban fantasy novel (aka unicorn book) I read to challenge my prior aversion to this genre of literature.

Magic Bites is the first in a series of novels featuring protagonist Kate Daniels, a saber-packing, smack-talking, magic-wielding mercenary.  The author doesn’t totally unfurl Kate’s story in Magic Bites, choosing instead to lay groundwork for future plotlines in the series.  Still, Daniels is a well-developed character, endearing in her moments of vulnerability and impressive in her brashness.

Truthfully, Kate Daniels was my favorite element of this novel.  The story itself was entertaining, pitting Daniels against legions of undead brutes as she attempts to solve a murder.  The mythological creatures in this book were so plentiful that, at times, I had difficulty discerning shapechangers from wererats from vamps, but Magic Bites paints a rich portrait of a very strange world.  The story steered toward romance a time or two, which kept me engaged, and the details about a fantasy-fied Atlanta (the Fox theater leveled due to vampire infestation?) were entertaining.

What I didn’t like about this book, though, was hard to surmount.  I am an admitted weakling when it comes to violence and gore, and the references to steaming entrails, glistening brains, and rotting corpses were just way more than I could handle.  When I mentioned this to Steve, he was surprised.  He didn’t find the book the slightest bit gory, so perhaps my opinion is tinged with my extreme sensitivity.  Still, I wouldn’t recommend Magic Bites to anyone who shares my delicacy.

Overall, I stand by my original assertion that Magic Bites reads a lot like chick lit, but with weapons and mythological creatures.  If you are into that sort of thing, you should definitely give it a look.

Reading one fantasy novel in no way qualifies me to write about the genre.  What I learned from reading this book, though, was that there are aspects of unicorn books — good character development, suspense, romance — that I enjoy.  This came as a happy little surprise to me.

Stay tuned for July’s Chasing Maybes category (are you sick of Entertainment yet?).  I look forward to sharing it with you.

What happy surprises are waiting for you this holiday weekend?  I wish you many, and thanks for showing up.

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