MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews takes place in the somewhat near future, in an Atlanta ravaged by magical mayhem; there are ‘tech’ times where technology works, and there are these magic waves where magic dominates and things like cars don’t work, and the two forces seem to be struggling on a sort of invisible level. I could have that wrong, but it’s how it feels. The portrait of an out-of-whack society where people cope and survive is so well done.
This convincing and very comprehensive world also has a delightfully twisted sort of quality. I think maybe it’s partly the names. Example: this excerpt explaining the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid:
The Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid offered just what its name suggested: merciful aid to anyone who asked. If you could pay, they would charge you; and if you couldn’t, they would kill shit on your behalf pro bono. Officially their mission statement was to protect humanity against all harm, by magic or by weapon. Trouble was, their definition of harm seemed rather flexible and sometimes merciful aid meant they lopped your head off.Other favorite names so far:
“The People,” this scary necro-oriented group, “Part cult, part corporation, part scientific institution” that controls vampires. (Vampires are monstery in this world—Grey Goose and designer duds not included!) What kind of fucked up name is the People for an organization like that? I love it every time I read it.
His Majesty Curran, the Chosen Lord of the Free Beasts. That’s the name for the head of the shapeshifter society here. I like the Free Beasts. You can almost imagine a kind of anarchic world where shapeshifters would sit around deciding on official names, and these would catch on with them. Chosen Lord. Free Beasts. These names feel wistfully aspirational.
Favorite architectural points so far:
The Unnamed Square, five city blocks reduced to rubble by various villains. “Even now, six years later, the city council refused to rename the empty space…reasoning that as long as it had no name, nobody could summon anything there.”
Champion Heights, a luxury high rise that seems to be semi-cloaked by magic. “Pale haze clung to its walls and balconies, blurring the crisp, man-made edges, as a web of wards worked tirelessly to convince the very magic which fed it that the high-rise was nothing but a large rock.” The effect: sections of it look like “portions of a steep granite cliff.”
Sort of humorous, yet vivid and dramatic.
Update: see part 2 of my Magic Bites discussion here.