Published by NYLA on January 12, 2021
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
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From Ilona Andrews, an all-new novel set in the Kate Daniels World and featuring Julie Lennart-Olsen, Kate and Curran's ward.
Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.
Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.
If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she'd ever loved could threaten everything.
One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.
Cover Art: Luisa Preissler
I am so happy to be back in the magical world of Kate Daniels.
Julie Olsen was once a street kid until Kate Daniels found her and gave her a home. A blood bond between her and Kate made life complicated and when that bond between them broke, Julie was left feeling hollow inside. So eight years ago, once Atlanta beat back Roland and was safe, for now, Julie took off to be with Kate’s Aunt Erra, who she now calls Grandma, and together they built the Kingdom of New Shinar in California. Julie’s magic was growing and broadening with training from Erra, her uncle Hugh d’Ambray and even from Roland, and New Shinar was becoming a bright jewel on the west coast.
Everything was wonderful for Julia until she received a call from the Sienna, the witch oracle in Atlanta, who told her that Moloch, the Child Eater, a God who enjoyed burning children as sacrifices, had become a human avatar and he established his new Kingdom in Arizona. Sienna had seen that Moloch would feel crushed between the Kingdom of New Shinar and Kate’s Kingdom of Atlanta and he would eventually go to Atlanta to kill Kate. She also saw many visions that if Julie warned Kate and if she even saw Kate, then Moloch would win and Kate would die. From that moment, Julie’s sole focus was to destroy Moloch and his priests. Julie goes to his kingdom and battled Moloch, losing an eye in the fight, but managed to destroy Moloch, cut him in pieces and threw his body in the fires but not before she took some his magic, by way of his eye, and absorbed it into herself. As Julie’s body absorbed Moloch’s magic, it changed her…or maybe rebuilt her would be a better term. Since the face she sees in the mirror is no longer that of Julie Olsen, she has renamed herself Aurelia Ryder.
A new look, a new scent, and a new name is helpful when you have to return to the city your grew up in and everyone knew you but you need to stay under the radar. You see, Julie still can’t go home because Moloch’s greatest power is regeneration. It has taken time, but Moloch has reanimated and he is even more determined to kill Kate and take her Kingdom of Atlanta, and now he is also determined to have Julie by his side.
Sienna has called Julie once again. Something has killed a beloved Pastor and Moloch’s priests are in Atlanta looking for something. Aurelia Ryder has come to Atlanta and is investigating the death of this Pastor, and in returning to Atlanta, she stumbles upon old friends who have all changed in the last eight years. Some of them will recognize her and some won’t; and those who don’t aren’t trusting of the stranger who has shown up in their city filled with strong magic and a lot of secrets.
In returning to Atlanta, the heart of the Kate Daniels series, Julie will come upon some of her mother’s friends such as Nick Feldman, Ghastek and Luther Dillon, but as you would expect from a spinoff series featuring the next generation, Julie spends more time stumbling into her contemporaries from the prior series such as her brother, Conlan, Ascanio Ferara, now the Bouda Clan’s beta, and Julie’s first love, Derek Gaunt who was also back in Atlanta under an assumed name of Darren Argent. When Julie left Atlanta, she didn’t tell Derek, torn between the fear that he would ask her to stay and she would or that he wouldn’t ask her to stay and it would break her heart to know he never loved her like she loved him, and sometime during the last eight years that Julie was away, Derek/Darren had also left Atlanta and is now the beta of the Ice Fury pack from Alaska, the largest shapeshift clan in the United States.
Kate was mostly alone in her story arc learning to use her blood magic. In comparison Julie has been trained by her Grandmother (Erra), her Uncle Hugh and her Grandfather, Roland. So right from this first story, Julia comes out as a powerhouse using blood armor, blood weapons and power words that took Kate half the series to work out. In some ways Julie with her own magic might be even more powerful than Kate. We also get a glimpse of ten year old Conlan who has his father’s shifter abilities and alpha stare and his mother’s blood magic. I can only imagine how unstoppable grown up Conlan will be. Roland, while trying to take over Atlanta, was a villain and tyrant. Roland, in his magic prison, visits with his grandchildren and is excited to act as a mentor for them, training them in their abilities and giving wise council. I think setting him free would simply make him the next battle to be faced, but captive Roland is a powerful ally and kind of cool. It reminds me of the father/son dynamic in the TV show Prodigal Son, where the father, a serial killer known as The Surgeon, is now is a mental hospital and consults with his son, a profiler with the NY Police.
I loved being back in the world of Kate Daniels with all the magic-created creatures, the humor and the exciting battles. I loved that the authors dedicated this book “To the fans of Kate Daniels World who refuse to let get.” It’s true, when the characters and the world building on a series is so good, who wants to walk away from it. I was so happy to get this story from Julie’s POV. For those who weren’t aware, during the pandemic Ilona and Gordon Andrews began writing this story and dropping sections and entire chapters on their blog almost daily as a way to entertain fans and distract them from their troubles. Then sometime over the summer, they realized this was turning into a true novel and took it down to finish and fine tune the story to sell later. For anyone who was was reading along, but hasn’t begun the completed novel, I was a little disappointed to see that I was 50 percent through the book before I came to new material.
The good news and the bad news is that this appears that Blood Heir is beginning of a new series. Goodreads has this noted as book #1 of the Aurelia Ryder series and Amazon has it noted as Kate Daniels’ World Book 1. Of course, I just saw a note from the authors when asked if this will be a series, they stated probably. Probably? There are too many open issues for a probably! (UPDATE 1/22/21: They announced there will be two more books in this series.) I thought this was going to be a standalone, fun addition to the Kate Daniels series which started and finished in this book. As excited as I am that we will be returning to this world and these characters, I wish I had realized that before I started this story then I would not have been surprised that we did not get answers to all of our questions. Fans of Kate Daniels will remember that the romance of Curran and Kate didn’t even begin until book 3 or 4, and although Roland was spoken of often, the first few books were all about staying under the radar so her father would not find her. So like Kate’s arc, there are burning questions that will not be answered before the end of this story.View Spoiler »We get a reunion of sorts between Julie and Derek when they yell at each other for disappearing but no grand gestures of romance even though we knew they had feelings for each other. We know what happened to Julie but we get no answers as to why Derek left Atlanta or how he ended up with Ice Fury. We also get no answer of what happened between Ascanio and Derek that caused such bad blood. We get something about a fight but there had to be more than that to go from competitive to nearly enemies. There is a big battle at the end of the story but not with Moloch. Not everyone realized who Julie/Aurelia was so we still need to have those reunions and who will have hurt feelings that she didn’t trust them with that information. Since there was no final battle with Moloch, that danger still exists. Therefore, Julie still can’t go home and see her mother and Curran, and she’s feeling very homesick. « Hide Spoiler
There is still so much to discover in this spinoff. I was ticking down the days until this book released and don’t even want to think about how long (years!) it will be before we will get all our answers to these burning questions finally answered. I have made notes of my predictions and assumptions and I will beginning counting down the days until I find out if I was right or wrong. I have wanted to do a re-read of the Kate Daniels series and I think I will make that my Winter project.
I wouldn’t recommend stepping into this world from this point but if you don’t want to start the Kate Daniels series first, I would at least recommend picking up the short story Magic Stars which features Julie and Derek and free on the Ilona Andrews website The King of Fire prologue to this story.
Julie’s first encounter with Ascanio and his boudas.
Ascanio turned back to me and looked me over, slowly.
I made a conscious effort to not hold my breath. Ascanio knew me. We’d met when I was fourteen and he was fifteen, and we’d spent a lot of time together.
We haven’t met.
His nostrils fluttered slightly. He was downwind of me, and the night breeze had brought him my scent.
I’m a stranger. You’ve never seen me before.
Ascanio inhaled deeper. His eyes narrowed.
My heartbeat sounded too loud in my ears, but it was slow and steady. He wouldn’t know me. Sometimes when I looked in the mirror now, I didn’t know me.
Time stretched, slow and viscous like molasses. He stared at me, and I had no choice but to stare back.
Ascanio had been beautiful as a teenager, almost androgynous. The beauty was still there, in the bottomless eyes under the sweep of dark eyebrows and in the perfect lines, but his face had gained strength. His features had broadened slightly. Time had contoured his jaw. No traces of softness remained. It was a man’s face now, with harsh edges and defined angles, and eyes that radiated authority and power. If I didn’t know him, he would’ve knocked my socks off.
“You dropped my alpha’s name,” Ascanio said. “Care to explain?”
Red flashed in his irises. “You know confidential information about my alpha. I need to know how, because I’ve been with her for over a decade and I’ve never met you.”
“And what will you do if I don’t tell you?”
“I’ll have to insist.” His voice told me I wouldn’t like it.
The first time we’d met, he’d decided it would be a brilliant idea to kiss me. I’d shoved a handful of wolfsbane in his face, dumped him on the floor, and tied his arms behind his back. And then I’d asked him if the spoiled bouda baby lost his bottle and his teddy.
“So, let me get this straight,” I said. “Five of your shapeshifts detained me without cause outside of the Pack’s boundaries, demanded that I pay a fee to cross a public bridge, and now you’re threatening me with assault.”
His eyebrows furrowed slightly. All of those would’ve been violations of the packs policies eight years ago.
“I haven’t threatened you yet.”
“I feel threatened. I’m trembling with fear.”
“I see a distinct lack of trembling,” Ascanio said. “This is very easy. Tell me how you know Andrea Medrano’s birthday, and you’re free to go.”
“You’re missing the point. You have no right to detain me in the first place.” To escalate or to back down? That was the question.
“You seem suspicious. I’m not sure you should be wandering around unsupervised.”
Ascanio would require nothing short of complete submission to let me go. Once I took a step back, he would want my name, my reason for entering the city, and, once he saw my face, my address. Backing down would cost more time and require too much lying.
“And you seem like an idiot, yet somehow nobody prevents you from wandering around free.”
One of the boudas by the bridge giggled and clamped his hand over his mouth.
Ascanio raised his eyebrows. “An idiot?”
“One human woman in the middle of a tech wave against six shapeshifters. Only an idiot can’t understand how that math will look to civilian law enforcement or your alpha. Does she generally encourage you to hassle lone women late at night?”
He took a step forward. Menace rolled off him like air from hot asphalt.
“Since I’m an idiot, perhaps I’ll pull you off your horse in my idiotic way, stuff you into one of our houses, somewhere with a deep basement, and wait until you decide to answer my questions. You can file a complaint if you ever get out.”
“Is this you threatening me? I’m checking so we’re both clear.”
“When I threaten you, you won’t have to ask.”
“In that case, do it. Pull me off my horse.”
He didn’t move. I’d called his bluff. Ascanio had many faults, but he wouldn’t hurt a random stranger, much less a human, without reason. If it got out that the Pack was kidnapping young human women off the street, the fallout would be catastrophic, and with five witnesses, it would get out. Shapeshifters gossiped worse than bored old ladies in church.
Frustration sparked in his eyes and died. I’d won.
Time to ease up. I didn’t want to antagonize him too much. “Why don’t we do this: you let me be on my way and I won’t file a formal complaint. It’s a win-win.”
Ascanio held up his hand to stop me and turned away, looking at the wall across the street. A moment later the rest of the shapeshifters turned and looked there, too.
A boy leapt out of the darkness and landed on the corner of the wall, the only spot free of razor wire. He was solid and corded with muscle, only half a foot shorter than me. Dark brown hair cut short, tan face, and grey eyes that were so light, they were practically silver.
When I left, he wasn’t even two years old. We’d seen each other hundreds of times over the years when visiting our grandfather in his otherworldly prison, but it’d been eight years since I’d seen him in person. If we were alone, I would’ve pulled him off that wall and hugged him so hard, he’d need all his shapeshifter strength to wiggle out of it.
Our stares connected.
He gave no indication that he recognized me. My brother, the master of subterfuge.
Ascanio heaved a mocking sigh. “The little prince graces us with his presence. You’re a long way from your parents’ territory, Your Highness.”
His Highness sat cross-legged on the wall. “You’re a long way from your Clan House, Beta Ferara.”
Ascanio smiled slowly, baring his teeth. “Run along now.”
“And if I don’t?” Conlan squinted at Ascanio. “Will you try to put me in your special basement?”
One of the boudas chuckled and choked it off before Ascanio could glare at him.
“This doesn’t concern you,” Ascanio said, his voice harsh.
“I’ll decide what concerns me.” Conlan rested his elbow on his knee and plopped his chin on his fist. “Don’t worry. I won’t get in your way. Please go on with your attempted extortion, robbery, and kidnapping scheme. I just want to see how it all turns out.”
“And then what?” one of the boudas behind me asked. “You gonna run home and tell your daddy?”
My brother turned his head and looked at him. Gold rolled over his eyes and flared into a bright glow. The bouda with the big mouth tried to hold his gaze. A tense second passed. The bouda looked down.
Ascanio couldn’t let that pass. Conlan had just alpha-stared one of his people into submission. I had to diffuse the situation before it broke into violence.
“So it’s not just lone women you hassle in the middle of the night. You also bully children.”
Ascanio glanced back at me.
That’s right. I’m still here.”
“I’m going to ride across this bridge,” I told him. “You’re welcome to try and stop me. I’m pretty sure the kid and I can take you.”
“You should try to stop her,” Conlan called out. Flesh flowed over his left hand, snapping into a nightmarish half-hand half-paw, disproportionately large and armed with claws the size of human fingers. “It will be fun.”