Review: Magic Slays

Can I say “holy carp…”? After having placed the order for this book back in February, I was more than happy to see it arrive in this afternoon’s mail. And, honestly, it’s not uncommon for a book you’ve been waiting for that way to disappoint. But somehow, the writing team of Ilona Andrews is improving with each book in this series.

Kate is still a kick-ass heroine, who lives to fight. But she’s understanding more and more of who she is, and with the context of her mating with Curran, she seems to be growing past the emotional wounds of her childhood. She is committed to the relationship in ways that other series would define as “happily ever after” but, being who she is, she doesn’t get to rest on any laurels for having achieved that partnership nirvana.

In fact, I really love that they’ve posted on their homepage, in honor of the book release: “Magic Slays: Happily Ever After… Not So Fast!“. They go on to tell their readers: “MAGIC SLAYS is a kind of book most authors hope they will never have to write.  It’s the story that takes place after the sun has set and [a] new collection of monsters besieges the happy couple’s castle.”

By the time I was done reading (and pounding my fist to the sky in celebration of victory over a doomsday device!), I was thrilled to have followed the authors’ invitation to read the story and discover that “MAGIC SLAYS is a Happily Ever After in progress, wrought with danger, and perils, and some laughs.  We hope you’ll give it a try.  Come fight the monsters with us.  You won’t regret it.” I certainly don’t regret it, and am now considering some of the scenes they’ve built into the saga from the perspective of what they say about humans living in our current civilization.

Four points jump out at me immediately, and will stick with me for a good, long time:

  1. Describing something as inhuman and meaning it as an indicator of twisted evil is a misperception of the meaning of being a wild animal. What Doolittle says to this point is particularly moving.
  2. The description of a high level of smarts/intelligence as combined with a low level of wisdom as being a broken mind was particularly interesting, as it applied to someone who could truly be appropriately described as a psychopath.
  3. The way that we already know fanatics are made–with what amounts to brain-washing–and the way that the people who love us conform to the guidelines we provide for our overly simplistic justifications is deftly woven into the fabric of the antagonists in the story. It has the effect of both making the story realistic and compelling, and deepening the reader’s understanding of and compassion for the tortured individuals who are trapped in that ultimate victim mindset.
  4. Finally, the description of the ease of being a fanatic, slipping into a cog-like role and easily avoiding the cognitive dissonance of the position you are espousing really speaks to the dysfunction rampant in our society–and it’s worth sharing the quote where they discuss this as an example of how a good author (team!) can slip in something profound in the midst of blood and guts and gore and a doomsday device to top it all off, and bring the whole story to a profound statement of Truth:

“They’re fanatics,” Curran said, “It’s like expecting humanity from a falling rock. It’s not going to have a fit of compassion and not crack your skull open.”

“I can wrap my head around demons or rakshasas hating anything human, but the Keepers are people. A thug robs someone for money. A psychopath murders because he can’t help himself. They are perpetrating mass murder for no real immediate gain.” I stared at him helplessly. “How can you do this to your neighbors? They would have to murder millions of people and for what? It’s inhuman.”

“No, it’s human,” Curran said. “That’s the problem. People, especially unhappy people, want a cause. {emphasis mine} They want something to belong to, to be a part of something great and bigger, and to be led. It’s easy to be a cog in a machine: you don’t have to think, you have no responsibility. You’re just following orders. Doing as you’re told.”

So now I’m going to have do my darndest to avoid fanaticism, and its inherent ability to make justification of Machiavellian pursuits easy… heh

Of course, my fanaticism has much more to do with keeping myself and the world around me healthy, but the point is that any justification can be taken to a simplistic, and therefore ultimately broken conclusion, distinctly paralleling the point of having a lot of smarts without having any wisdom. I wonder how many people will read this and heed the call for more wisdom to their actions…? If for no other reason than that might be the case, I’m truly hoping that this series becomes the best-seller it deserves to be.

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