I love authors with long backlists because I am binge reader and I love being able to immerse myself in the worlds they create. Every so often however I flounder in the middle of a series and just lose track of where I left off. While I adore the Kate Daniels series, I had somehow gotten stuck. In this case the unavailability of the audiobook for Magic Rises via my libraries, which meant I was sidetracked into other of Andrews series that they did have available in Audio. With the final book in the Kate Daniel's series by Ilona Andrews is coming out later in the Spring Jennifer Porter's recent massive PNR twitter thread inspired me to get myself unstuck in this series before the last book came out.
In Magic Rises, Kate and Curran have been living together for about a year. Kate has settled into her role as Consort of the Beast Lord's massive Atlanta Pack. She trains her adopted daughter, Julie, runs her private detective/problem solving business while everyday getting to know the Pack's needs. Once a nearly feral, solitary fighter, Kate has become a partner, a mother and leader of a pack, but is about to be tested in a way she has never been before. When Julie's best friend is Mattie is unable to control her shape and has a stress-induced reaction to the virus that causes shapeshifting, she is facing a death sentence. Seeing Mattie's mother's and Julie's grief consume Kate and make determined not to see another child in the pack lost this way, especially when know there is a treatment.
Curran has also had enough. At that moment he will face any challenge, if it means bringing end to this pain for his pack, even if it means walking into a dangerous trap, because it is then that Curran and his Consort, Kate have been invited to serve as protector and arbitrator for complex family drama in a remote castle on the edge of the Black Sea. They promise Panacea, the herbal cure that would heal Mattie and protect the youngsters in the pack from Loupism.
Kate and Curran surround themselves with their most trusted friends and other powerful players in the Pack. The secure alliances and then travel together, knowing that once they arrive they will be under constant pressure and unable to freely communicate with each other. The Andrews do a fantastic job setting up the traveling party, tensions, the unease and the determination. They feel ready and then they are surprised and jolted out of that confidence in quick succession when they arrive to the castle.
I was frustrated with Curran and Kate at point but they reacted in believable and understandable ways to the threats Hugh and Lorelei represented. I sympathized so much with their anger and frustration, that painful level of mad that you can only reach with someone you love more than your life. I laughed at their pettiness and felt their pain. I was particularly moved by how Kate processed her hurts and how it highlighted how important belonging to the pack, and her role in as Consort had become to her. She never really believes in Curran's purported/seeming betrayal till it seems like he is saying she doesn't truly belong, that she is somehow a burden, which cuts her right were she is most vulnerable. My only annoyance with this storyline was the bizarre focus on marriage the European packs had, especially in light of Desandra's temporary and less than solid marriage alliances. That piece of the conflict didn't gel well.
I though Hugh was fascinating. His arrogance grated on Kate, but she also recognized him in a deeper way than she expected. It was uncomfortable for her to fit so well, to be understood so well but someone she finds abhorrent. He is cruel, murderous, yet he thinks like her, shares so many common experiences with her, that it added a layer of thread, the promise of understanding and belonging, that had not been previously present.
Lorelei was in the end an unsubstantial distraction but I am left curious about whether she escaped the burning castle during the final conflict or not. I am curious about what will become of her, and whether she will face any consequences for her actions.
I am so happy I picked up this series again. I've already downloaded the next book, and I am looking forward to catching up with the rest of the series. Kate, Curran and the pack have been changed by this adventure and I am curious to see where they go next.
Quick Spoilers below about a Character Death:
The cut that cut me the deepest was Aunt Bea's death. She had been such a fantastic secondary character. Tough, multifaceted and so damn interesting. She was the mother Kate never had. Like Kate she used all her skills to protect the misfits she loved and I know Kate will still keep learning from her, hearing her voice in her head, just like she does Voron's