Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)

Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2)

Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3)

Speaking of literary heroines in general within this genre, and Andrews' (so-called) heroine in particular, I'd like to add two corollaries to my commandment against Stupidly Wrong Gender Tropes, which I'd like both the authors and their heroines to follow. Here's the first:

Don't. Be. An Idiot!

Seriously, could we please have protagonists who aren't painfully stupid?! I've already mentioned the example of Harrison's witch-cop, whose main magical ability seems to be repeated script immunity. Further, I understand you don't have a story until someone does something dumb. But for pity's sake, Andrews, I don't care who your daddy is — you just don't go mouthing off to the Celtic manifestation of violent Death! Further, if you're trying to convince an overeager shapeshifter suitor to shove off, you emphatically do not promise to serve him a home-cooked dinner in the nude if he can catch you! That one nearly caused me to toss the book aside — because at that point I knew how the damn story would end.

The second corollary is even more important, at least to me:

No more creepy stalker love interests!

Holy crap but I'm tired of this one! Andrews is particularly bad with this, to the extent that I was unsurprised to discover "Ilona Andrews" is actually a pseudonym for a husband and wife writing team. It has been my experience men frequently Don't Get It regarding whether their supposedly romantic behavior is acceptable, or sliding (or in this case, catapulting) into Creepy Stalker Dude. Frankly, if I found out someone who said they were interested in me was breaking into my house without my knowledge, eating my food there while I was gone, and even watching me as I slept! Yeow. I would have no patience whatsoever with their protestations that that's just what their species does while courting, to show interest! They'd be out the door so fast, complete with a stinging swat from the nearest rolled-up newspaper, and I'd have all my locks changed that very day.

How do I put this any more clearly? Stalkers are NOT sexy! They are disgusting and creepy. They are not showing romantic interest — they are showing dominance; they are showing you are helpless against them.

The final commandment (for my tastes) is a little hard to explain, but I'll try. I think I'll condense the actual commandment to:

No More Artificial Binaries!

I understand christianity has taught us to regard life as being pretty black and white: you're either good or evil, with little in between. Further, our culture seems to gleefully obsess on that sort of very undemanding, simple thought pattern. As a single example, the male is considered roughly equivalent to logical, good, strong, active, light, intellect; woman is roughly equivalent to over-emotional, bad, weak, passive, dark, flesh. I'm really tired of this. It's completely artificial and arbitrarily assigned, usually to show "Us" as all that's good and wholesome, and "Them" as everything dark and evil, whom "Us" must oppress or kill — for its own good, of course.

I particularly dislike this sort of false dichotomy when it's applied willy-nilly to a complex issue in order to give us easy bad guys to hate. A classic example of this is the treatment most Tricksters of other pantheons receive. Christianity doesn't have anything as complex and nuanced as a Trickster in its mythology, and so usually that role is typecast as evil. Loki, in the Norse pantheon is a good example: he's been cast as the evil fall guy for so long that people forget all the early stories about him show him as helping the deities against the giants. When we engage in such simplistic thinking, unfortunately, we lose all the fascinating shades of complexity and meaning between the fascinating darkness of introspection and the dazzling brightness of observation, the small death of icy winter and the blooming fecundity of heated summer, the chaotic and constantly changing wildness of untamed nature and the more deliberate efforts at control and orderly domestication performed by humankind.

I like having to struggle intellectually for nuanced understanding, for what is most right and moral amongst many possible shades of meaning. I love those complexities! I don't want to lose them, and I resent stories that expect me to buy into stupidly simple renditions of "good" and "evil." I personally believe that sort of mental exercise helps us become more thoughtful and intelligent people, especially in a time where "public discourse" seems to have degenerated into who can most loudly scream the most insults.

I mention this because I saw this occurring repeatedly through all three books of the Magic series, via both "bad guys" and background characters. The rakshasa embody this problem in book three: they are unremittingly, homogeneously evil — evil evil evil! They intend, over time, to destroy all of humanity, and there's no lip service paid at all to the fact that in the actual myths they were as diverse as humanity itself, with some being truly despicable monsters, while others were renown scholars, warriors, and advisers.

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