Reviewed by JenOh Andrea. I knew you had a horrible history, but not truly knowing your story, my heart breaks for you.
This Kate Daniels spinoff is told from the first person POV of her best friend Andrea. She is a beastkin bouda, which means that her father was truly part animal. She was raised among a pack of sadistic were-hyenas who tortured her for the first 11 years of her life. Though she has grown strong in many ways, she was also irreparably damaged by the abuse.
For almost all of her adult life, she hid her true self. She became a protector of others. But her blind loyalty to the Order caused a split with the man she loved and as the story begins, she wants him back. Unfortunately, Raphael can't get past his own hurt long enough for her to set things right. --I'll get back to their issues in just a moment.
Someone --or something-- has killed four members of the Pack and Andrea is called to investigate. The victims were all employees of Raphael's, which throws her back into his orbit. The story follows Andrea as she closes on the killers and the ancient evil they are trying to unleash. This, while she works to deal with her feelings for Raphael.
I am such a fan of Ilona Andrews. She makes me laugh when I least expect it. The wit is dry and sometimes biting. The dialogue is crisp. The characters are amazingly well defined and the increasingly complicated world-building is.. well, it's complicated, but it's consistent and integrated well into the developing story. The pacing is fast, making the book feel like it flies by.
I loved learning more about Andrea. Her memories and her residual trauma are gut wrenching. And it's seamlessly incorporated into her present day issues with Aunt B and the Pack. Raphael isn't drawn with quite as much depth, but then again, it's not in his POV. One of the very best things about the book is watching Andrea grow comfortable with who she is for the first time in her life. She is a hero. She's tough and strong and loyal and brave and it's about damn time she sees her own worth.
The romance had a few hiccups. The emotional immaturity of both Andrea and Raphael was evident as they lashed out at one another over and over again. When they weren't hurting each other, they were running away from each other and while it was totally in character, it was frustrating at times.
I did love the wide array of secondary characters: some old favorites, some new. Of course, we have Kate and Curran. It was cool to see Kate from an outside perspective and get a glimpse of her relationship with the Beast Lord in action. We see Derek, Jim, Doolittle, Aunt B and Julie. But the real scene stealers are Ascanio, the teen bouda, and Roman, the flirty black volhv.
The action part of the storyline was entertaining and different. Andrews delves in to an array of multiple mythologies to construct her story arcs and as a result they are never stale. There's also plenty of bloodshed. A lot of shooting, clawing, biting, and violence of all kinds here. But for me, the characters are what set this series, and this book, apart from so many others in the genre.
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Gunmetal Magicby Ilona AndrewsRelease Date: July 31, 2012Publisher: Ace