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Blood on the snow
on 29 May 2010
Magic Bleeds picks up three months after the events of Magic Strikes and Kate is deeply troubled. She's devastated after the dinner between her and Curran goes badly to say the least. She's left angry and broken inside and tries to deal with it by lashing out at the world and throwing herself into her work at the Order. After a hard day, Kate is landed with a petition from the owners of a bar called the Steel Horse -- a kind of neutral territory that exists between the Pack and the People. Upon arrival, Kate finds that the Steel Horse has come under attack by a being who can cause diseases to come alive. Someone this powerful could easily cause a pandemic unless they're caught. Fast. Not your typical bar brawl... Kate relentlessly pursues the case and it's not long before she crosses paths with the Pack and the source of her pain. Curran.
Magic Bleeds was simply fantastic. There's plenty of tense action and the dark atmosphere retains its intense grip on the series. Atlanta is freezing and Kate is reflecting the weather, because she's a brewing maelstrom of bitter emotion inside. It was so satisfying to sit back and immerse myself in Kate's gritty and violent world once again. It's my favourite series so I've been anxiously anticipating this book for a long time now. The plot is intricate and cleverly thought out, with the themes of the book mirroring the emotional arcs of the characters. This book is ultimately about family. Those you choose and those you don't. It sends a strong message that you can't help who you're born to, but you can help who you become and choose those who go on that journey with you. Kate always had a very direct purpose in life. She thought she knew who she was, she sees herself in the proverbial mirror only to realise she's become something else. Something unexpected. Something better than what Voron planned for her.
Kate's issues with Curran lie at the centre of the book: pervading everything she does and colouring almost her every thought. She honestly asks herself whether she could be without him? Whether there is a future for the two of them together. Their resulting scenes were poignant, frustrating, funny, heart-warming and everything in-between. The payoff was huge and I was very pleased how it was all handled -- it's all too easy to build things up and tear them down but the Andrews continually illustrate that they know exactly what they're doing. Magic Bleeds is a very character driven story and lacked the very tight plot focus of its predecessors. Instead, the issues of the characters take centre stage as the main throughline. Magic Bleeds is a transitional book. It puts to rest some plot arcs and introduces new elements. I'm very excited for the continuation of the Roland arc (there's some fascinating hints about him) and to learn more about Kate and Curran's pasts.
All the characters made an appearance, although some with less to do than before. Curran had more face-time than in any other novel (yay!), and we learned some of his back story to boot. What we learn sheds light on what makes him tick and the thought processes behind his actions. Saiman is back, although I was never too fond of him I've grown to love him during this installment. Perhaps because he displayed some actual emotion that humanised him a little. His scenes with Kate are funny and rather macabre at times. If I could criticise anything I would say that his plot was left hanging a little; there was no absolute resolution there. I get the feeling that the authors are bulding to something there. Andrea experiences some difficulties in the book and it'll be interesting to see how this development is taken forward in the future.
One of the reasons Magic Bleeds was so utterly compelling was because Kate was suffering (while painful for reader, Kate, and villain alike) the story is never better than when she's in pain. Pain drives Kate to do better, to be a hero, and here we see her try to get past it; to build a life for herself beyond it. She's changed a great deal since Magic Bites... it was interesting to watch her grieve and try to put herself back together again. Kate is a whirlwind of strength, anger and unrelenting determination. She's strong but always sympathetic. My favourite heroine bar none.
It's sometimes difficult going into novels with high expectations, but they were more than met here. I always find that the finer details don't reveal themselves in Kate Daniels books until the second re-read. Mainly because I read them too fast to notice all the subtleties the first time around! Hee. Magic Bleeds was filled with gritty action, vivid prose and witty banter. I laughed out loud several times -- Kate and Curran especially, are hilarious together. I cannot fathom the wait for the next one... *bites nails*.