This won’t be a proper review. Magic Shifts is the eighth book in a long-running urban fantasy series written Ilona Andrews (otherwise known as Ilona and her husband Gordon), meaning that several plot points have been met since they were first introduced and a few characters have already died. So instead I’m going to use Magic Shifts to talk about the series as a whole.
A bit of background: I love this series. Love it. It is my go-to escapist comfort/crack series. I love the protagonist Kate Daniels (a snarky badass fighter and magic user) and while I’m not as into her love interest Curran (a werelion known as the Beast Lord of the Pack, an autonomous governing group of shapeshifters), I love Kate and Curran together. I love how magic works in this universe (semi-post-apocalyptic future set in Atlanta in which magic and technology vie for dominance in “waves”—when the magic is “on,” technology is “off,” and vice versa), I love the endgame the series is leading up to, and I love love love the cast of characters that make up this universe.
Now that that’s established, I will give some actual specifics of what I love about these books. Needless to say, there will be ginormous spoilers, particularly for the previous book Magic Breaks.
It’s late-20th century in an alternate version of Earth, and Paris lies in ruins. The Fallen, angels cast out of Heaven for reasons they themselves have no memories of and condemned to live out the rest of their long-lived lives on Earth, rule the city through their own set of imposed hierarchies. Several Grand Houses exist within the city limits, each comprised of Fallen and human dependents who, in return for their sworn loyalty, are bound to their Houses and granted both magical and mundane protection. Decades ago, the Houses fought each other in a war with spells that destroyed Paris, forever fouled the river Seine, and reduced the might and power of the Houses to a mere fraction of their former glory. Yet the Houses remain the most dependable, promising source of safety and security for those under their protection, leaving the rest of Paris to scrape a livelihood as best they can out of the ashes. Continue reading
Suyana Sapaki is in trouble. As the Face of the United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation in the International Assembly, her job is to serve as the country’s public face of diplomatic relations and policy-making. In reality, this means navigating the dual world of stardom and politics, where a Face’s celebrity status is the only way by which they have any ability to have an effect on political decisions. (Imagine the Miss Universe pageant crossed with the United Nations.) Unlike the Faces of the Big Nine—the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, etc.— Suyana is a solid C-lister with few allies and even fewer friends. She was briefly attention-worthy after a terrorist incident occurred in her home country, but that was three years ago. She’s about to meet Ethan Chambers, the United State’s Face, where they’ll sign an agreement to enter a public relationship, when she becomes the target of an unknown assassin.
Daniel, a disgraced paparazzo and newly minted “snap,” (a member of the free press), is banking upon Suyana Sapaki as his big break. He’s hiding with a stolen camera outside the hotel where Suyana is scheduled to meet Ethan when he witnesses her being shot by an unknown assailant just outside the building. In a split-second decision, Daniel throws in his lot with Suyana’s to rescue her and keep his story safe. What happen next is a labyrinthine thriller as Suyana delves deep into her underground connections and navigates international politics to figure out who tried to kill her and how to stay alive in the meantime.
“This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another. This has happened before, after all. People die. Old orders pass. New societies are born. When we say “the world has ended,” it’s usually a lie, because the planet is fine.
But this is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
For the last time.”
I’m starting off this review with this quote because it’s the best description ofThe Fifth Season there is.
(Sidenote: I keep accidentally typing out The Fifth Element. I wonder if I’m not the only one doing this.)
I’ll give a bit more detail.