Review: Magic Graves (anthology) by Jeaniene Frost and Ilona Andrews
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! So read on with confidence and let your curiosity get the best of you!***
Magic Graves is a smorgasbord of awesome: strawberries dipped in chocolate with a chaser of champagne, tiny petit fours fed to you by gorgeous leather clad muscular Scotsmen. This anthology features two of the leading ladies of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance: Jeaniene Frost (author of the Night Huntress series, featuring Cat Crawfield Russell and her uber hawt hubby gigolo-turned-hitman Bones, and Night Huntress World books, featuring some of our favorite secondary characters) and Ilona Andrews (author of the Kate Daniels series, featuring Kate and her yummy-nummy mate Curran, and The Edge series). Hang on to your panties and your wallets people ‘cause this is some good sh*t right here. Because there are six (6!) pieces in this book for me to review, y’all need to get comfy and settle in. This is a GraveTells Must Read!
- Title: Magic Graves
- Series: Night Huntress, Night Prince, Kate Daniels, The Edge
- Author: Jeaniene Frost and Ilona Andrews
- Prominent Characters: Cat, Bones, Vlad, Leila, Kate, Curran, Audrey, Kaldar Mar, Saiman
- Recommended reader age: 17+
- Sexual content level: light to moderate
Jeaniene Frost’s offerings start with One for the Money, a short story that was previously published in the anthology Death’s Excellent Vacation. There is also an excerpt from A Bite Before Christmas (an anthology due on shelves October 25 with Lyndsay Sands) that is sure to drive you to pre-order, and an excerpt from her upcoming Night Prince novel Once Burned featuring everyone’s favorite Romanian impaler o’ invading forces Vlad Tepesh and his lady love Leila.
Ms. Frost never disappoints. Anytime that Cat and Bones are on stage there is sure to be some staking, witty banter, great humor, and a guaranteed to please Smex Beam scene that makes your favorite voyeur (that would be moi) very happy. One For The Money is a short story about just what happens when Cat and Bones decide to extend their “bleeding heart protect the innocents” mentality to include a snotty, spoiled heiress. I would have left the brat for the bad guys, but this is Cat and Bones and they are nothing if not prone to heroics. It is a great addition to your Night Huntress collection and also a wonderful introduction to one of GraveTells’ favorite couples for the uninitiated.
Then we get to the goodies that are tucked into the book right after One For The Money, an excerpt from Once Burned, the first book in a new series : Night Prince. These novels will feature Vlad Tepesh (yes, that Vlad, Dracula himself) and a new female lead named Leila. I was very happy to see that this series (I believe the author has reported that she is contracted for at least two books! Huzzah!) will be written in first person. Ms. Frost is really at her best when writing from the first person perspective in my opinion. This excerpt had me salivating for more. If I had had a print copy of the book I would have been turning the pages trying to find the rest of them! It opens right up with Leila in a very tricky and dangerous situation and gives you a great introduction to her. Leila is going to be a fantastic character to follow on her journey with Vlad; she came across as tough, smart, quick witted under pressure, and funny. My kind of gal.
Just when I thought things could not get any more awesome I found an excerpt from A Bite Before Christmas, an anthology that Ms.Frost is releasing on October 25 with Lyndsay Sands. It’s called Home For The Holidays and features Cat and Bones (squee!) and all their super hawt vampy friends and family. Any time you get the gang together there is bound to be hilarity, whether from Cat’s acerbic mother snapping at – well, everyone (my favorite is when she tries verbal sparring with Ian. You just can’t win an argument with a man who doesn’t feel badly for poor behavior. He is who he is and if you don’t like it, he’ll tell you to sod off, or some such thing) – or the situations that arise when you have a house full of supernatural couples who are totally horny for each other. Plus it’s nice to check in with the gang. Jeaniene has given hints that this novella will reveal some things about Bones’ past, and the excerpt gives us a sneak peek that made me feel like I was punched in the gut. I’d had my own ideas about what it could be and I was WRONG. And really excited to be because I can’t wait to see where the story goes!
Okay. Get up and stretch. Have a sip of water and a nibble o’ chocolate before you come back. Ready? Right. Now, Ilona Andrews.
This was my first experience with any of Ilona’s fiction. I love love love her blog and highly recommend you subscribe to it. She and her husband/writing partner Gordon are absolutely hilarious. The blog set my standards and expectations pretty darned high. Ms. Andrews did not disappoint. In fact, after reading the short stories and excerpt in this book, I sent a crazed e-mail to DaVinciKittie that basically said I was going to lose my mind if I didn’t get the entirety of her work for Christmas. I was able to jump right into these stories with no background knowledge of the worlds or characters and was immersed in a sea of awesomesauce.
A Questionable Client features Kate Daniels taking on a body guarding job for Saiman after the original team that is supposed to be guarding him want out. She’s low on cash so takes the job only to discover that Saiman is going to be a real pain in the a$$ to keep alive. Instead of heading for the hills like anyone else would have, she sticks it out and does some slaying of monsters and outwitting of mobsters to earn her dough. It is a situation that is a double edged sword though, because at the end I felt like Saiman had a bit of a crush on her. I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, so I don’t know what happens with him. I do know that Kate is mated to Curran, so I have a feeling Saiman may provide some comic relief of the annoying sexual proposition variety.
Then we get a sneak peek at Fate’s Edge, book 3 in her The Edge series. It introduces Audrey Callahan, a young woman raised by con artists who is trying to break away from her family and live her own life. A visit from her father has her pulled in for a job that she knows is a bad, dangerous idea, a job she tries to say no to but fails. Enter Kaldar Mar, the man that I am assuming is going to be her love interest. He’s a con man who is currently working for the government to meet his own ends. The piece sets you up for what is sure to be a whip cracking story full of danger, tension, and action. This is the sort of series that has the potential to be epic — the world building and character development I got out of just this snippet were excitingly promising.
And just to throw some whipped cream on your eclair, the last bit of the book is devoted to a bit of Magic Grieves (this is a working title — it may be changed) that shows Kate and Curran in action together. I don’t meet a couple in a book series very often that I like as much as these two. Cat and Bones are one of my favorite couples and I think Kate and Curran might just be joining them. They are really well matched and excellently drawn characters. Like Cat and Bones, they try to go out for a quiet dinner and end up having a near catastrophe instead. If you’ve never read a Kate Daniels’ novel (like me, and I can’t believe I’ve missed them for this long) you’ll want to after this. They’re living in an alternate reality version of Atlanta that has been partially destroyed by magic fluctuations colliding with technology. Interested? I know I am.
From One For The Money:
Maybe Cat should carry dixie cups for all the drool:
Young, old, alive, undead, doesn’t matter , I thought ruefully. When Bones is around, women go into heat.
Maybe they should have let the hitman kill her instead:
Day two during a conversation with Tammy: “So you’re married to Bones, huh? How’d you manage to snag him? You know, with your red hair and white skin, you look like a big candy cane.”
From Once Burned excerpt:
Talk about having a bad day. And you thought you had problems!:
Any way you cut it, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or, more accurately, between a fang and a sharp place.
Know thy enemy. Give them obnoxious nicknames:
Auburn-Haired’s name was Jackal, according to what his friends called him. Their names sounded equally made up, so I mentally referred to them as Pervert, Psycho, and Twitchy since the latter couldn’t seem to stay still.
From A Questionable Client:
The problem with leucrocotta blood is that it stinks to high heaven. It’s also impossible to get off your boots, particularly if the leucrocotta condescended to void its anal glands on you right before you chopped its head off.
Priorities people! Why is it that men always want to eat at ridiculous times?
I leaned back. “So let me summarize: You’re a target of magical kamikaze fanatics, you won’t tell me who they are, why they’re after you, or why you have been restrained?”
“Precisely. Could I trouble you for a sandwich? I’m famished.”
From Fate’s Edge Sneak Peek:
Flying just doesn’t change, no matter where you are:
She was pretty sure that if you died in the south, you’d have a layover in Atlanta before you reached the afterlife.
I’m waiting to be asked this question:
“Can you handle a wyvern?” Lady Virai asked.
Is it bad form to shoot your dad with a crossbow?:
The man turned and grinned at her, his blue eye sparking. She knew the smile too. It was his con smile.
Audrey let her crossbow point to the floor. ”Hi, Dad.”
And finally, Magic Grieves:
Arguing with a shape shifter may be bad for your health:
Here is my sugar woogums: his eyes are grey, his hair is blond, and if you piss him off, he’ll sprout giant claws and roar like thunder.
Can’t anyone go on a quiet date without having to kill something?
Technically we had never gone out to dinner. Oh, we had eaten together in the city but usually it was accidental and most of those times involved other people and frequently ended in a violent incident.
If you liked Magic Graves…
If you liked the snippets and short stories in Magic Graves, you should run out and get yourself some Cat and Bones (starting with Halfway to the Grave) and Kate and Curran (starting with Magic Bites). There’s also the Night Huntress World novels (First Drop of Crimson and Eternal Kiss of Darkness) and The Edge series. Vlad and Leila’s book is to be released in early 2012 and is called Once Burned. Take your credit card, cause you’re going to be really mad if you don’t get the whole shebang, I promise you.
If you already know about the awesomeness that is Ilona Andrews and Jeaniene Frost and have yourself stocked up in case of zombie apocalypse with all their books, then I would recommend the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole (starting with A Hunger Like No Other) for strong couples with supernatural abilities, loads of action and adventure, and hot sex.
And there’s always our old favorites in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. They wear leather pants a lot in that series. And they also take said pants off pretty often. That’s all I can say.
This anthology delivered on all fronts. Often a short story can leave a reader confused by the lack of back ground information into an established series, or annoyed at how the author tries to share the knowledge but does so poorly. From the full shorts to the excerpts this book had me excited to see more and impressed with the writing ability of the authors. I got to meet new characters and visit with others that feel like old friends. This book is a great addition to anyone’s collection whether they are an established fan or a nubbie. Get yourself a copy today!
Rating: Magic Graves
- Buy: Magic Graves: Amazon
- Buy: Halfway to the Grave : Amazon (psst: The e-book version is on sale for $1.99 through Oct.30!)
- Buy: Magic Bites : Amazon
- http://jeanienefrost.com/ : Jeaniene Frost’s website, home to all things Night Huntress and fangy
- http://www.ilona-andrews.com/ : Ilona Andrew’s website, lair of Kate Daniels, Curran, and a weird Atlanta
- http://kresleycole.com/ : Kresley Cole’s website, Immortals After Dark (ooohh Scottish werewolves. Yum!)
- http://www.jrward.com/ : J.R. Ward’s website, the Black Dagger Brotherhood (shout out to Hollywood!)
*Thanks to Ilona Andrews for allowing GraveTells to review this book as an Advanced Reader Copy. No payment or compensation was received for this review and the opinions herein are honest and unaffected by any outside factors.