"Gunmetal Magic" takes place after "Magic Slays" but is focused on Andrea and Raphael rather that Kate and Curran (if you don't know what I'm talking about, skip this review and go and read "Magic Bites" and the four novels that follow it, then come back here).
The good news is that it's a full novel and not just a backstory originally penned for world-building and marketed to keep the author's name in front of the public during the long wait for the next book in the series.
The Bouda / Werehyena mindset is centre stage in this book. The relationship between Andrea and Raphael is refreshingly wild, so much less restrained and less angst-ridden than the whole Kate and Curran thing. I loved their instinctive territoriality, their uncontrollable jealousy, their spontaneous aggression, the joy they take in running in the forest and their matter-of-fact approach to killing those who threaten them.
The actions scenes are as good as ever. I loved the opening scene where Andrea wakes to find that one of her neighbours has been trapped by large killer bugs that rode the last magic wave into the world. What's not to love about a dainty-looking 5'2" woman, dressed in pyjamas, touting a pair of Sig Sauers and an assault shotgun, shooting bugs that explode into an icky mess?
The abuse Andrea suffered in her childhood is described in rage-provoking detail that sets the context for Andrea deciding what to do when she meets one of her tormentors. It also explains some of her reluctance to submit to Aunt Bee and join the Bouda pack.. Andrea's solutions to both issues go a long way to explaining who she is and who she might become.
I was impressed with the fact that Andre is not Kate with a gun instead of a sword. She sees the world differently. She has a strong need to belong and to serve and a deep trauma-based resistance to submission. In this book, where she is finally free from secrets and able to be herself, she has a joy in her own power and a passion for life that Kate never demonstrates.
The plot in the book is a little lackluster. The big bad in this talks way too much, he could inflict death by monologue, and the tasks he sets seemed a little pointless. Still, it provided an excellent vehicle for Andrea to find her way forward after being kicked out of the order so it was well worth the read.