Magic Bites – Ilona Andrews

Like a good little customer, I occasionally do what Momma Amazon says and click on links entitled “people that liked <large pile of books I’ve just ordered > also liked <book>”, the result of which was a novel called Magic Bites by a new author, Ilona Andrews.

I frequently read swords and sorcery type fantasy escapism, but they’re normally set in Medieval times rather than an approximation of the modern world. Apparently the genre is called urban fantasy, think Buffy the Vampire Slayer but less teenage.

All the usual elements were present in this book, hero protagonist, swords, vampires, werewolves, police agencies and knightly orders and an amateur whodunnit plot, but what made this book noteworthy was that it was all brought together in a relatively uncontrived way with the liberal application of my favourite sort of humour, deadpan understatement.

The author only resorted to outright explanation of the world to introduce their unique ideas, such as the swings between ‘magic’ and ‘tech’ phases, and things like lights and clapped out car engines that ran on water and ambient magic. Everything else fell into place in my imagination with only the occasional pause to laugh out loud and get subsequently glared at for failing to share. Some scenes were a little more graphic than I normally find, but only when necessary to convey a certain character or plot device.

For an author’s first book, I found it to be a remarkably good read and I’ll be both buying the next in the series (not sure mail order will be fast enough) and exploring other authors in that genre (with the aid of Ilona Andrew’s Myspace site)