Review: Magic Stars

cover-magic starsTitle: Magic Stars
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Grey Wolf #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: Novella
Available: Now

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From award-winning author, Ilona Andrews, an original novella, set in the New York Times #1 bestselling Kate Daniels World and featuring fan-favorites, Derek, and Curran and Kate’s very independent ward, Julie.

Scarred, solitary Derek Gaunt has separated from his Pack, and is truly a lone wolf. With no family he answers to no one; but is fiercely loyal to a chosen few. So, when several of those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched streets of Atlanta.

Never one to be left on the sidelines, equally determined—some might say stubborn—Julie Lennart-Olsen soon joins in his pursuit; and what began as revenge turns into a race to save the city. Their search pits them against powers they never imagined and magic so old, it predates history. It may cost Derek his life, but there are things for which even he would risk everything.


Source: Bought it

If you’ve never read an Ilona Andrews book, or anything relating to the Kate Daniels world, then this book is not for you. Not because you won’t enjoy it, but because of spoilers and the fact that this is not the best moment to meet Derek and Julie for the first time. As someone who loves this series/world, I heartily recommend going back to the beginning and starting with Magic Bites, because the Andrews team have done an amazing job throughout building up one of my favourite Urban Fantasy series combing strong characters, incredible world-building, clever use of world (and I mean world not just north western European or Classical Greek) mythology and excellent story telling. I love this series for a reason, and to understand that fully you’re better off starting at the beginning.

Okay, so with that public service announcement out of the way – Derek has a book! Not just any book, but one told from inside his head! Derek has always been fascinating to me. From the foolishly cocky wolf in book one, to the warrior he became and all the bad stuff that followed, Derek is compelling. It’s easy to forget how young he still is, so one thing I really enjoyed in this novella is how he also struggles with his relative youth compared to all he’s been through. Like all Team Andrews’ first person characters, Derek has a strong voice throughout and I loved how his wolf side is very clear. Not to mention how he differs from other shifters because of his childhood.

Then there’s Julie. Even though in more recent Kate books it seemed to me as though Julie might have given up on Derek a little to threat-flirt with Ascanio a lot, there’s still a bond there, so I wasn’t surprised to find them teaming up in this novella. And what a team they make. Julie is definitely taking after Kate in the all-knowing, kick-ass, magic-wielding brigade, but even though she’s had it rough growing up she’s more vulnerable than Kate and, while cynical, she isn’t as hard. Yet. She’s a bit cockier too, confident she knows what’s she doing and can cope with everything – when clearly trouble is definitely brewing in a big way.

I loved how she and Derek worked together, how she grounds him, while he provides her with someone trustworthy to talk to. They’re both still pretty young, but they have clear strengths and a desire to protect those they love. And aren’t afraid of a little violence when it heads there way, as it always will in this post-apocalyptic Atlanta.

The plot itself is as clever as I always expect from this world, starting out so simply and gradually winding deeper. There’s a lot of fighting and running around, because Derek is a wolf on the edge and violence is what he’s used to, while Julie’s no slouch when it comes to making use of her tomahawks. It kept me hooked from the first line to the last and even though it was short I didn’t feel cheated.

Fans will likely read it anyway because it’s Derek, and newcomers are best off saving it for later when they know a little more about this world – although technically you can read this straight out, since the important pieces are recapped (except Julie’s particular reaction to mermaids), but you’ll enjoy it more if you’re more familiar with everything. Whenever you read it expect strong characters, a fast-paced plot that unwinds in occasionally unexpected ways, with a wolf who truly feels the call of the wild and a teenage girl tackling some pretty powerful magic. If that sounds like your kind of read, then welcome to the Kate Daniels world. This was only the first of the Grey Wolf books, which leads me to hope that there will be more coming from Derek in the future. I can’t wait.


Magic Stars is Out Now!
Visit Ilona Andrews for more details.

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