Monday, October 24, 2016

Bastard Reaction: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

It was some years ago that I came across Ilona Andrews' interest in writing some spin-off novels in their Kate Daniels urban fantasy universe, a favorite of mine. As much as I would've liked to explore more of Kate Daniels' world, I was quite hesitant about a spin-off since, even though they have a myriad of great characters, I thought they'd have a tough time writing about someone who could measure up to that of Kate or Curran. I also recall that they looked for fan input to see which character we'd be most interested in; my choice was Julie (who I thought had a lot of potential). The one I wanted the least was Andrea... go figure.

Along came the authors' decision to write Gunmetal Magic, an Andrea-centric novel who's also Kate Daniels' best friend. I wasn't really excited about the news, in part because I really dislike Andrea's love interest Raphael in addition to my trepidation I just explained. It took some time to make peace with the idea, but I really got excited about this project eventually. I'm glad to say that my worries were for naught because Ilona Andrews wrote one kickass spin-off worthy of being included in their Kate Daniels sequence. As it happens, one of my favorites urban fantasy novels of 2012; best read after Magic Slays, the 5th Kate Daniels novel.

Gunmetal Magic follows Andrea Nash who's an emotional wreck now that she's lost her support, the rock she leaned-on in the form of The Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid ever since they found out she's a shifter. On top of that she's also dealing with her break-up with Raphael, which wasn't all that clean. She's been kicked out of The Order, dealing with her break-up, and due the particular nature of her shifting, she hasn't joined The Pack. For all intents and purposes alone with few exceptions. For the time being Kate and Andrea are working on their own new independent investigation company, and as "luck" will have it, Andrea has been hired to investigate some deaths at a location which Raphael is overseeing. And the fun goes from there.

Andrea's narrative voice is not that dissimilar from Kate's, which makes sense since they're not that different when you get down to the basics. And I'm not complaining. From that regard it brought some good continuity to the narrative style already present in the series. Andrea is a bit more unstable and emotionally expressive though, and more trigger happy...if you'll excuse the pun, which is good in my book.

I don't recall as much as I'd like since I read this 4 years ago (the above written back then as well), but I'll just say that I loved this novel. I thought the first half was stronger though, as Andrea was unhinged, kicking ass and taking names, including some sequences that are right at the top of my favorites in the whole Kate Daniels series.

I'll say though that I hate Raphael with a passion, not only his personality and his actions, but the actual character. More than that I hated how he influenced Andrea and changed her. There's a big contrast, at least to me, of the coolness and badassness when Andrea is by herself doing her thing, and her lesser form she somehow transforms into when Raphael is around. This was a big part of why I preferred the first half of the novel, since the later part featured their dynamic in a much more pronounced manner. Even more so when you compare it to the relationship of Kate and Curran, who are awesome by themselves but just as good (if not better) when they share a scene.

Needless to say, Raphael has been on my list of characters that need to die since his introduction.

Andrea is a good enough character to surpass these perceived limitations, and I'll certainly welcome another story about her. It certainly surpassed my expectations, and if not her, another spin-off novel might be more than welcomed...*cough* *cough* non-YA Badass Julie #FreeJulieLennartDaniels *cough* *cough*.

We managed to witness this world through a different set of circumstances, through a different character's eyes with different wants, worries, and challenges. That alone was worth the ticket of admission, but the novel satisfied more than that while retaining the formula that has worked so well and made Kate Daniels the success it's been.

Well, that's all I have for you guys. Gunmetal Magic is a very strong entry in the Kate Daniels series, and easily one of the best urban fantasy novels of 2012; action packed, badass, with plenty of humor... what else do you want?

Well of course, how about a signed copy! Suck it!

You can buy Gunmetal Magic on Amazon.

Make sure to follow @ilona_andrews & @GordonSm3 on Twitter and their website for more information.