I’ve read this book because it sounded a bit like Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” which I like. And, indeed, there are similarities – the most important one for me was that I didn’t really like either series’ respective first book.
“Magic Bites” was a confusing read much of which is due to the messy style of storytelling employed here. There’s a knightly order that’s supposed to help people in case of magic disasters which seem to happen due to weird alternating “cycles” of magical and technological “dominance” which in turn seem to have devastated the major cities but not everywhere (?).
There’s a mercenary guild that somehow plays a role as well and of which Kate, our heroine, is part of. Somehow Kate is obviously “special” due to her father (?) but at least in this first instalment of the series we never get to know what the big deal is.
Lots of things aren’t explained or so badly explained that I missed those explanation or promptly forgot about them – none of that being very likely. I often felt like I was missing crucial information. As if I had started not the first but a follow-up novel in the series. But from some other reviews, I don’t seem to be the only one.
As far as the story goes, it’s simple, nothing new and, to be honest, rather boring: Kate’s mentor Greg, one of the more important and powerful knights of the order, has been brutally murdered and Kate is investigating what happened.
“Move over, Sherlock.” is how she puts it but that’s really not how I see things because Kate doesn’t seem to have much of a criminalistic sense or experience. At least, though, she’s lucky and so she somehow manages to solve the case and (barely) survive.
We don’t really get to know Kate, though: We rarely “see” her in her “natural habitat”; yes, she does go out with a potential love interest but while it starts out nicely…
“Would you go to dinner with me?” “I would,” I found myself saying. “Tonight?” he asked, his eyes hopeful. “I’ll try,” I promised and actually intended to do so. “Call me around six.” I gave him my address in case the magic knocked the phone out.“
… and I found myself smiling, what happens during that date feels artificial and shallow because Kate – who obviously really wanted to go – is suddenly greatly annoyed when they eat at a fancy restaurant and considers giving up on the guy entirely.
Harry Dresden at least whines and complains and while I didn’t exactly like him in the first “Dresden Files” book there was at least humour and cheesiness in a good way.
At times there are attempts at humour here as well but they often fall quite flat: Like calling a mare “Frau” (German for “woman”). It’s a small thing but it bothers me.
There are tons of loose ends as well:
“The fact that vampires weren’t supposed to have existed two hundred years ago when the tech was in full swing bothered me a great deal”
Ok, and what does Kate do about it? Does she follow up on this with anyone at all? No. She’s greatly bothered but promptly forgets about it. Wow.
In fact, who is Kate? Who was her father? What – apart from her mentor – was Greg to Kate?
Why does everything miraculously fall in place during the epilogue?
As if that wasn’t enough, the writing isn’t very good either:
“There was something so alien in the way he moved, in how he sat, how he smelled, how he looked at me with the eyes brimming with hate, something so inhuman that my brain stopped, smashing against that inhumanity like a brick wall. He made me want to scream.”
Sorry, what? Her brains stops but smashes itself… Sorry, I think mine is about to disengage trying to make sense of that.
Ultimately, I’m confused by this book but I’m told the series “gets waaaaaaayy better!” so – just like “Dresden Files” that took 9 books till I liked it – I’m going to give this series another chance. Not like Kate who has the last word(s) in the book…
“Tomorrow,” I said. “I can start tomorrow.”
… but once after I’ve recovered from my book-induced dizziness. 😉