Review: Blood Heir (Aurelia Ryder #1) by Ilona Andrews

I was incredibly excited to read this series, even before I read that Aurelia was Julie (not a spoiler, don’t worry). I was a little confused by the need for the name change (it seems to be in earnest rather than simply a cover due to the plot of the book, which requires some secrecy), especially as another prominent character in the book has also changed their name to reinvent themselves. For clarity’s sake, I’m going to use the alias of anyone using a different name in this book, to keep things consistent.

Due to the placement of this book in the timeline (it may be book one but it follows on both from the Kate Daniels series, Gunmetal Magic, and Iron and Magic) if you haven’t read the previous books set in post-Shift Atlanta, there will be plenty you don’t understand, and any review I might write about this book would be a spoiler; so if you’d like to avoid those, read the preceding twelve books that set up the world, magic system and characters that might appear/affect Blood Heir.

The cover of this is reminiscent of the Innkeeper books, but I like it. It shows Aurelia, sets the tone of the book and is an interesting hint at several distinct scenes

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.

Most of what I have to say about Blood Heir is just gushing, and as I’ve read everything (I think) that Ilona Andrews have put out to date, I’m probably enough of a fan for my opinion to be somewhat affected by that. Just, full disclosure, I’m not surprised I loved this book. I was surprised that I started it earlier than I meant to and finished it in an afternoon. I haven’t been that taken with a book since Peace Talks and Battle Grounds last year; not even my beloved Ninth House made me lose sense of time and just read like that.

I was glad that despite being set in Atlanta, Aurelia’s background, purpose and family connections made her way of viewing and interacting with the world distinct from Kate’s. I also understand why Kate didn’t make an appearance in this book, and Curran was not really a feature. It was good to have space to learn Aurelia as a character without the previous main characters constantly there as comparison. Fans of Ilona Andrews’s other novels will notice the similarities between this reboot, and the main character switch that occurred in the Hidden Legacy series. Even though I’m sure there will be fans crying out for more Kate, I understand the need for distance, and it’s good to know that Kate’s life was finally able to calm down after the events of Magic Triumphs.

Aurelia is a great main character, and I loved her many connections (mainly familial, though never really genetic) and loyalties and the way they affected her choices within the book. I was glad that her connection to hunting birds, horses and wolves was not overlooked in this book, and can’t wait to see her unique abilities come into play further. Her sensate abilities were also an interesting touch to the book, and I hope her interactions with Luther will continue in as entertaining a manner as they began. While she did approach situations in a similar manner to Kate, that’s to be expected due to their relationship to one another, and there was enough of a difference in Aurelia’s  approach to be distinct.

The plot was non-stop entertaining action that never seemed coincidental or forced, and I loved the developments that have occurred between the conclusion of the Kate Daniels series and the beginning of the Aurelia Ryder novels. It was amazing to see how Aurelia and Darren had changed and grown, and I’m very excited to finally be learning a bit more about Ice Fury.

I appreciated the nuance with which Ilona Andrews navigated beginning a new series in the same setting as a previous beloved world, and truly enjoyed the way old characters were worked in and stayed true to themselves, while also adding nuance to younger characters who have since come into their own. I really enjoyed all the hints to future novels that were set up in this book, and can’t wait for Hugh, Erra, Kate, Jim and other such amazing characters to make an appearance in this new series. The promised developments with Ghastek, Nick, Desandra, Ascanio and Conlan are also something I cannot wait to see. Roland as a nearly-benevolent grandfatherly figure was an interesting touch, though I can’t help but hope he doesn’t become a major antagonist in upcoming novels. Ten books was enough, and I was glad to have his role as final boss be concluded in Magic Triumphs.

As for new characters that were introduced in Blood Heir, Marten was an unexpected delight, and I can’t wait for her to play a bigger role in novels. Namtur likewise promises to add some much needed comic relief, and interesting developments regarding magic systems and Old Shinar. Aurelia’s interactions with the knights was a nostalgic reminder of Kate in the earlier books, and I’ interested to see how Aurelia’s different values and stronger support system affects her interactions with the Order.

Overall, I loved Blood Heir, and I’d recommend this series to anyone who enjoyed Ilona Andrews’s previous work. There are also definite similarities, as far as I’m concerned, to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares series and Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series. In other words, if you enjoy well-developed urban fantasy worlds with a kickass main character and a touch of romance and found family, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in Blood Heir.


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