Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Re-read  December 2017
Recommended for fans of urban fantasy
★    ★    ★   ★   1/2


About a year after my initial read, I think it’s time for a decent review.

More relaxed reading time raised my rating; I actually think this is one of the better Kate Daniels books. The push-pull of her relationship to Curran has stabilized, and while her adopted daughter Julie is an annoying teenage kid, it turns out that they both behave like mature people when addressing their issues. That leaves plot tension developed with the external threat of Roland pushing at the boundaries of Atlanta, and Kate pushing back. Neither of them seems to be able to help themselves, although it also seems that neither wants a direct fight. A prophecy by the Oracle, coupled with dreams Kate has been having, implies that war is inevitable, and that either Curran or Kate’s yet-to-be-conceived son will die. After discussion, Kate goes looking for a ‘third choice,’ a decision that will allow her to circumvent either of those pathways. Three incidents act as ‘pivot points’ that can push the future one direction or another.

I liked this angle of the Oracle, the idea that there are paths but yet there are choices, and a radical approach in thinking/acting can open up a new route. It’s a great literary device, besides squaring with the reader’s likely notions of free will. The pivot points allow for two smaller adventures, a structure that the Andrews excel at, while maintaining the feel that there’s a purpose to these adventures. The mythology in the encounters is, as always, stellar; intriguing, mysterious, frightening and magnificent. Really well done.

Humor is integrated well into the story, as per the Andrews’ normal style. The opening scene, which was released before the book, centers around Kate and Curran asking her cousin Roman to marry them. As the priest of the God of Evil, etc., he never ‘gets to do weddings,’ allowing his involvement to be made into a running joke. But it’s one of those really well done jokes, where you understand Roman’s isolation, his enthusiasm at inclusion, and then his surprising competency at planning. The events relating to the wedding bookend the book nicely, and provide a stable emotional touchpoint in the drama of the prophecy.

There’s a fair amount of emotional depth developed in this book, fitting for the ninth book in a series. Her relationship with her family, especially her father, is further explored, allowing the reader some insight into the ‘is he good or bad’ question that has been developed. It mostly manages to explain how he can act as doting father at the same time that he callously uses and kills people.

A side plot (event?) relating to Barabas, the lawyer and were-rat, and Christopher, the mystic Kate had rescued from Hugh’s prison is extremely interesting. I could see–and would enjoy–a short story coming out of that situation. Likewise, the return of a couple of earlier characters proves intriguing. I was worried at first, as I didn’t think Andrews would be able to make the characterization stick, but as with Roland, they did a good job at making the situation believable (within this world’s framework, natch).

I must have been seriously road-exhausted when I read this the first time, because there were a couple of big scenes I didn’t remember at all. A reference to a character I had forgotten and a nasty cold pointed me back towards this book, guaranteed entertainment. Good thing its on my shelves so I can re-read any time.

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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4 Responses to Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

  1. M. says:

    Great review as always, Carol. This gives me hope for this book. I’ve been putting it off because I was mostly underwhelmed by the last one. Actually I’ve been underwhelmed with the writing ever since Aunt Bee was killed off–such a huge letdown that was–but your review has gotten me interested in this series again. I’ll most likely wait until the last one comes out to read it though.

    • thebookgator says:

      I had a hard time with the Aunt Bee one as well, and it put me off subsequent books, so I understand where you are coming from. I recently reread The One With The Scary Castle and liked it better than the first time around. Ditto this one, so maybe there is hope for your enjoyment. 😀

      So ambivalent–love this world, but maybe Kate needs to take a break. Sometimes it feels like they are responding to fan pressure versus story (guest appearances, life updates, etc).

      • M. says:

        Yeah, a lot of the real life stuff bleeds into their later works. A LOT. I can guess their daughters’ exact age and what was going on in their lives when each of the Innkeeper and Hidden Legacy book was written lol.

        I don’t really follow the fandom or their blog, so had no idea about the fan pressure, but it makes sense, esp in light of the novella they’re planning for Hugh… For a long time this was a head-scratcher, like why Hugh of all characters? Why not Barabas, as you mentioned? (I personally wouldn’t mind a Desandra novella.) But I guess we already know the answer. Hugh is popular with their fanbase, right? I don’t get it, but to each their own.

        Anyhow. I will wait for the last Kate Daniels to be released and then I will do a massive reread from beginning to end. (And won’t even touch the Hugh novella, hah.)

        Happy new year btw!!!

      • thebookgator says:

        A re-read from first to last should be very interesting, especially seeing how it changes. I wouldn’t mind a Desandra novella either, especially if they could really get inside her violent, crazy, humorous head. 😀

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