In honor of my recent binge of the entire Kate Daniels series, include the short stories, novellas, and spin-offs, I thought it’d be fun to do a blog post sharing my thoughts on this long-standing, popular urban fantasy series!
After including the first book in the series, Magic Bites, in my KissCon TBR blog post, my friend Aarya recommended that I actually skip the first book and go straight to the second book, Magic Burns. She felt that Magic Bites wasn’t a strong introduction to the series and that I wouldn’t miss anything by skipping it.
Since she’s such a huge fan of these books, I decided to take her advice. I haven’t gone back to read Magic Bites now that I’ve read the whole series, so I can’t comment on whether or not this was the right move, but I can say that I didn’t feel like I missed much by starting with book two and that I’m glad I started there since it got me to the later books that much faster.
Personally, I thought the first couple of books I read were just ok. The world was kind of confusing and I wasn’t super attached to the characters, so while I enjoyed the series well enough, it wasn’t a Mercy Thompson or Psy/Changeling series where I had to race through them all. In fact, it was pretty much only the budding romance between Kate and Curran that kept me reading, because I loved their antagonistic relationship and wanted to see how they finally wound up together.
As it happens, I’m really glad the romance kept me reading, because I loved the second half of the series! I fell completely in love with all of the characters, and I love that we get side stories from a lot of them, because I seriously can’t get enough. I’m also a huge fan of Kate and Curran’s relationship, and I loved how the two of them worked together to make their relationship work. I also really liked seeing more of the world and how different mythologies manifested in it, as well as how Kate dealt with all of the crazy stuff thrown her way. The politics of it all were also really great, and I loved watching Kate work hard to navigate her interactions with the different groups, even though sometimes it drove her crazy. Plus Kate is just super badass, and I absolutely loved getting to know more about her powers and her legacy and tagging along on all of her adventures.
While I don’t always love having a single evil villain as the antagonist, I thought Kate’s father was really well done. He started out as a faceless villain, but you got to know him and see how three-dimensional he is, and I liked that occasionally he was even an ally. I think it made the stakes even higher overall.
I also really liked that, while the series was violent (Kate is a trained killer, after all), there wasn’t a ton of violence against women. I specifically mention this in comparison to the Guild Hunters series by Nalini Singh, another urban fantasy series I started reading around the same time, and that one is so steeped in crimes against women that I had to stop reading it, though Singh does a beautiful job showing the strength of these women and how they heal after what happened to them. Even the Mercy Thompson series had sexual assault and rape. But the Kate Daniels series managed to largely steer clear of it, and right now that’s just something I appreciated and thought was worth mentioning.
Also, can I just mention specifically the Iron and Magic series?!! I was looking ahead to figure out exactly which books I had left to read and saw that Hugh D’Ambray got his own spin-off series, which seemed super weird since he was a villain/henchman in the earlier books. But then I actually read it, and wow! They did such a great job with his story! I didn’t think it was possible to redeem him, but between his book, Iron and Magic, and the last book of the main series, Magic Triumphs, I think they’ve done it. Plus his story is a marriage of convenience, hate-to-love story with a lot more fantasy vibes than the main series, which is totally my thing. I believe there are two more books planned in the series, and I can’t wait for them (though I have to admit I want Catalina’s trilogy more!).
Ultimately, I can’t say I loved this series enough to put physical copies on my shelves (which is a super high bar, to be clear), but I enjoyed it immensely and am really glad I gave it a shot. And I did like it enough that I figured I’d buy two of my favorites to get signed at KissCon: Magic Bleeds and Magic Triumphs. Though I’m absolutely shaking my fist at the fact that they’re different sizes. Who does that?!!
Have you read the Kate Daniels series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
And if you’re interested in some of my other series reviews, I have posts on the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen, a cozy mystery series set in 1930s England starring a distant relative of the Queen, as well as the Psy/Changeling series by Nalini Singh, a paranormal romance series set in a world that includes a race of people with mental superpowers and shapeshifters. Let me know if there are any other big, multi-volume series you think I need to check out!