I discovered Ilona Andrews about a year ago based on an online bookstore “you might also like” reference. I quickly chowed through their Kate Daniels series and am anxiously awaiting the release of “Magic Slays” any day now (it’s been on my wish list at Amazon since last December and I really can’t wait to see where the writing duo takes Kate and Curran’s story next). In the meantime, as per my usual wont, I went digging for more to read from someone who offers a well-crafted tale, and discovered their Edge series.
As a quick aside, I have to interject my ongoing bafflement with the process of sharing author credit with someone. When it’s done well, you can’t tell the difference in style or tone from one story segment to the other. Having read some of Anne McCaffrey’s and Katherine Kurtz’s co-authored efforts, I can’t even say I noticed a lot of difference stylistically from what the did on their own. I still don’t know what it would take to manage the already-fraught creative process while also trying to coordinate with someone else’s thoughts, processes, and input, but I am full of admiration for those creative pairs who pull it off with such verve. And it really tickles my romantic side that this is a husband and wife writing team, so there’s not going to be a lot for me to say that’s negative about their efforts.
This is actually the second installment of the Edge series, where, again, the writing team has established a world based in a reality we would know and understand (Wal-Mart, anyone?) where the natural balance of magic has been thrown out of whack. The interesting variation in this world is something that approaches a quantum physics understanding of parallel universes, though in this case, they don’t exist simultaneously with each other, but rather abut each other in a peculiar fashion, where on one side of the world magic is alive and well, and on the other, mundanes are blissfully ignorant, while stuck in the middle are those who are variably magical without being able to draw on the full strength of those abilities. And with an dizzying array of pernicious beasties to make the Louisiana swamp life even more … interesting.
The first story focused on an Edger family that was barely making ends meet by having the oldest sister cross into the good ol’ US of A (or, the Broken, in the story’s parlance) on a daily basis to serve as a menial cleaning woman. She had the burden of taking care of her two younger brothers, one of whom was also a shifter. This book repeats that framework, with a twist. The young woman this time is from a different part of the Edge, is the heir to her family’s rather unusually extensive lands, and has been something of a grifter for the past three years to keep everyone in her very large family in food and clothes.
The connection between the two stories are the men who get involved with these two women. They’re both from the magical side of the world (what they’ve termed the Weird), where they had been soldiers together–despite radically different backgrounds. Declan, the hero of the first story was a noble from birth, while William, the hero of the second, was raised as something close to a social pariah: a shifter.
Both books satisfied my need for an equal sharing in romantic barriers, with such strong characterizations on both the male and female protagonists’ sides, I’m thoroughly enamored of the world and the stories the Ilona Andrews writing team are drawing. On the other hand, the connection between the two books was a little more tenuous than I was expecting, and the wide range of truly weird, unnatural, and spooky magical abominations The Hand upped the gore and, well, spooky factor a little more than I like.
According to the authors’ site for the series, there are two more books under contract for this series, so I’ll be anxiously awaiting further installments in this series, and am happy to recommend either of the first two to anyone who likes strong heroines in unique circumstances with a good helping of magic to spice the pot.