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In this book, Kate is just getting settled into her role as the owner of Cutting Edge Investigations, when a monumental case is brought to her door. It seems that a secret society has been developing a device that has the potential to harm every magic user in the entire city. Kate must uncover their secrets and stop the threat. Meanwhile, Kate is dealing with the pressures of being mated to the Pack alpha, and struggling to keep her ward, Julie, safe and out of trouble.
This book is smart. You don't usually find a lot of social or philosophical commentary in urban fantasy books. And that's fine, because urban fantasy books are action driven by nature and they don't need to be thought provoking to be entertaining. The great thing about this book is that it has these themes about class, social structure, and morality, presented so subtly that you barely notice them. But they're in there, making the story seem richer. The conflict is about a group of people who want to destroy magic, because they believe that magic creates an unfair class system. Those born with magic get better jobs and have an easier time in the world than those without it. This group is willing to basically commit genocide to get what they want. The later part of the book has magic users, many of whom are normally rivals, banding together to stop the threat. Additionally, the creation of the device itself is a lot like the creation of the atomic bomb or dynamite (the book references the atomic bomb directly); The creator thinks he's doing a good thing, and is so caught up in the invention process that he isn't really thinking about long term consequences. And all of this is weaved into the story so that it doesn't slow down the action or over tax the reader's brain.
I love the characters. Kate has grown on me, and I like her more with each book I read. She's tough, smart, and funny. She's flawed in many ways, but she has a good heart. I love Curran, who in all his surliness really just wants to be with Kate, unconditionally. This book has their relationship taking some big strides toward maturity. It's not a romance novel happily ever after, but it does make me feel warm and fuzzy. I also really like Julie, even though she's a walking, talking plot device more than anything else. I love Andrea, who is a fitting best friend for Kate. I'm eager to see her grow and develop more in future books.
There is so much plot that it does, at times, feel a bit crowded. Especially in the middle, when new plot points were still being introduced, I kept thinking "Oh God, what now?!" But it doesn't get confusing, everything manages to connect and wrap up (miraculously) by the end. The end is not what I would call fully satisfying, but it only has the tiniest of cliffhangers. Cliffhanger may be the wrong word--it has a hint of more. Which is good, because I hate dramatic cliffhangers.
In the end, I'm caught up with a series for once! This never happens! It really is a fantastic series, and I highly recommend it to any fantasy fan. Magic Slays excellent addition to the Kate Daniels story. 4.5 stars.