Magic Slays -  Ilona Andrews

"Magic Slays", the fifth Kate Daniels book, shows that an Urban Fantasy series can stay fresh and engaging and keep the reader hungry for more.


Sometimes, at this point in a series, the plots start to repeat or the relationships stall, or the world-building becomes so Byzantine that the up-close-and-perosnal relationship with the characters is lost.  "Magic Slays" suffers from none of these problems. 


The plot is kept fresh by confronting Kate with a strong, credible threat that is quite different from the challenges she has faced before. This time the enemy is human, not supernatural, which adds a chilling edge of hate to the mix. 


Kate's relationship with Curran has  moved on. It's still tempestuous, fuelled by  high-octane mix of lust, love, adrenaline and violent anger but it's now framed by the fact that Kate and Curran are mated. There is still room for misunderstanding and anxiety and even guilt but there is a realistic sense of progression.


We get more insights into Pack life as Kate comes to terms with her status as the female Alpha: living with being addressed by titles that make her uncomfortable, taking responsibility for training a delinquent young Pack member, meting out justice in Pack disputes while navigating the politics of revenge;  moving from violent dominance to real leadership.


Kate is one of the most kick-ass heroines there is: tough, deadly, define, she takes turns snark into a martial art.The challenge with a character like Kate is to keep her credibly vulnerable. This is done in "Magic Slays" by changing Kate's understanding of the motives of the people who, from childhood onward, raised her to survive and to kill and by putting Julie, her adopted child, at risk.


Like its predecessors, "Magic Slays" has a fast-paced plot that is packed with vividly violent action scenes. This time, with humans involved, the carnage is at a higher level than usual. This isn't video-game violence. It destroys lives and breeds grief and hatred.