It’s not easy to review ‘Magic Triumphs’ without sounding like a gushing fanboy. I mean, how many ways can you say, ‘I loved this because…’?
Putting it as simply as possible:
This is how Urban Fantasy should be done.
This is what a series should look like when you’re at book ten and still getting better with each book.
‘Magic Triumphs’ made me laugh, cry and admire the passion for life of the main characters.
It impressed me with the scale, scope and diversity of the world-building.
It made me fear the worst, cheer the best and left me satisfied that the series had arrived somewhere.
In the final pages, it piqued my curiosity about the future and offered me just a smidgen of hope that things might get better.
So, how did it do all that?
Well, firstly, the nine books leading up to this (ten books if you include ‘Iron and Magic’ – which you should as it’s the perfect example of how to do something new with a character by creating a spin-off book and then feeding it back as a key part of the main story arc). gave me a richly described world, complex but believable relationships, a huge diversity of characters and points of view and some well-understood threats.
Secondly, telling the story from Kate’s point of view keeps it grounded and human. Despite her power, or perhaps because of it, Kate remains Kate. She doesn’t want to be anyone’s ruler or anyone’s God. She knows she’s a killer. She knows she’s probably the most dangerous person in Atlanta. She doesn’t glory in it. She doesn’t worry about it either. She just wants to live with her husband and her son. What gives the book it’s pathos is that she’s unlikely to live to do those things.
Kate adds an element of snarky humour to the books that keeps them fresh. There’s always a smile or two before we get to the gore. Take this exchange between Kate and Derek as an example. They’re about to discover something extremely unpleasant but before that, they say this:
‘Derek blinked at me. “What the hell is an urban village?” “It’s a cute architecturally planned subdivision in some picturesque woods for people with too much money. The type who would build a million-dollar house, refer to it as a ‘cottage,’ stroll outside to be one with nature, and then drive half a mile to buy a ten-dollar cup of special coffee.”
The third thing that makes the book work is the perfectly controlled pace of the storytelling. ‘Magic Triumphs’ is like the best firework display you’ve ever seen: each time something spectacular happens, it’s followed by something even more spectacular and the scale keeps growing. From stand-offs, to fights, to full-scale battles, the violence is perfectly choreographed. The blood and gore is always part of a struggle for something real and this makes the people feel real.
Finally, there’s a wonderful mixture of energy, passion and creativity that continues to surprise and delight me.
Told you I’d sound like a fanboy.
I put off reading ‘Magic Triumphs’ because I was afraid it was the end of the series and I didn’t want the series to be over. I read it this month because I knew that, while it is the end of many things, it’s not the end of everything.
‘Blood Heir’ is out on 12th January. The story continues.