Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews
My old face was like a simple black dress. I could dress it up or dress it down. That was no longer an option. My new face made an impact no matter what I did to it. Dirty, clean, makeup, no makeup, it didn’t matter. The eye I had absorbed reshaped me. Nobody remembered my old face but me.
Julie returns to Atlanta after eight years of being away to stop the latest Big Bad from killing her foster-mom and fulfilling a prophecy. However, if she warns her foster mom or meets her—it’s game over for them all. So she’s now got a new face, a new name, and a whole lot of badass coming her way.
I’m glad I was back in the Kate Daniels world because it’s one of my absolute favorite urban fantasy series, but so many of the choices in this irked me.
Magic Triumphs was sheer perfection in terms of how to end a series while installing the potential for spin-offs, and after reading the novella with Julie and Derek, I was in love and hoping for something with either of their delightful POVs.
However, in the intervening years between Magic Stars and this, Julie has transformed into Aurelia Ryder, aka Kate Daniels Lite. Or is it Heavy? I dunno. It’s like she distilled the most obnoxious parts of Kate and then did…that. Which made kinda sense, because Julie has been through a whole fucking lot in the past eight years—she’s been learning at her grandfather’s knee, she’s been adopted as her great-aunt’s heir of New Shinar, she’s been fighting a new and scary god-creature who apparently wants her as his bride (????), and she’s done a lot of fighting and hardening and loss and it’s…turned her into a snarky sarcastic asshole with more snark than personality.
Although, to be fair, Derek has also had some upgrades (or downgrades, depending on how you view it—I liked old Derek better), which turned him into Super Curran/Curran 2.0/Curran Lite.
Anywho, this was an entirely frustrating book, because as delighted as I was to return to the world of Post-Shift Atlanta, many of the choices (not just with Julie’s character and Derek), annoyed me.
“Great job staying off the grid. You should teach covert work at the academy.”
The plot was blah, the writing was eh, and the Whole Reason For Secrecy was pretty much nonexistent since Julie went around revealing herself to everyone and sundry. She’s not exactly subtle about it—strange new person strides into Atlanta, inserts herself into a magical investigation by throwing down a token only FOUR people have, goes around toting her great knowledge of both Atlanta’s hierarchies and peculiarities and insinuates that she personally knows people and it’s just like…”wait a minute. JULIE Is that you under that drop-dead model’s face that looks like a knock-off of Kate Daniels???” Because…Julie’s new face is literally just like Kate and apparently no one notices it at first. She even finds a street kid to semi-adopt, turning this into pretty much a rewrite of Magic Bites.
And I think that’s where a lot of my frustration lies.
This tries to be a combination of a Magic Bites rewrite, a completely new series, and a continuation of a familiar series. By trying to tackle all three things, it fails spectacularly. It both over-explains and under-explains things, spoon-feeding knowledge longtime readers already know in a way that is inaccessible to those new to Kate Daniels’ world. It tries to be a new entrance into the world, but fails because there is just too much world-building that needs to be done (plus the added worldbuilding and whackadoodle politics of New Shinar, which made me feel like there should have been a whole damn prequel to this book—which would have been more exciting, tbh) in addition to moving the plot forward. The legacy of the previous series rests too hard upon Blood Heir’s over-compensating shoulders for it to really stand on its own or have the space to tread new ground. Additionally, further hampering my enjoyment was the annoying fact that the plot is basically identical to Magic Bites, although instead of Daddy Issues there is now Frankenstein’s Monster.
“My patience is like an infinite lake. Feel free to drown yourself.”
Anywho, this has mostly been a review of my grumbling over the lack of…well, much of anything. I did enjoy seeing the new generation of superpowers (Gen Z to Julie’s Gen Y), who were entertaining as fuck. And I liked reading about Kate’s semi-retirement in Wilmington, NC, and the hints of political bruhahaha in the practically perfect in every way New Shinar.
Despite their changes, Julie and Derek had pretty damn good chemistry, and their relationship was what tipped this into almost four stars instead of two (I gave an extra star because teenage were babysitters are hilarious). And, also, nostalgia. Because I’ve read this series since the beginning, and it’s one of my favorites, in spite of its flaws.
Rounded down because Aurelia Ryder? What is this, 2004?
Okay, it’s because someone wanted to make the Knight Ryder pun.
Anyways, despite my annoyance, my interest is peaked and I’ll probably stick around for the next installation. Maybe. I don’t know, and that disappoints me more than Hugh’s book did.