Cover Image: Blood Heir

Blood Heir

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Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews (uf, m/f, white) I’ve been waiting for this book even before IA said they would not write it.  It was amazing. Julie, Derek, Ascanio, Conlon &  lots of other awesome KD world folks. Julie has seen a lot...a boy is she going to see more!
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Once again, Ilona Andrews have produced a book worth sitting up all night to devour. Their master craftmanship at world building and character development shines from every page. The story line is compelling and riveting.

I won't go into any details about the story but characters from previous books make appearances throughout the story and each is a gem.

I would happily buy this book again.
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Blood Heir is a spin-off of sorts of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Maybe you could call it more based in the Kate Daniels World.

I don't really know how to explain Aurelia Ryder without giving too much of the Kate Daniels series away, but she is Kate & Curran's daughter Julie. She has moved away and has spent the last few years training for everything an Oracle has been telling her. Following this Oracle's advice, Aurelia has to stay away from Kate to prevent terrible things happening to her family. 

The roles of a few of the characters, mainly those that Aurelia call her grandparents surprised me. They were just not the way I envisioned them from before. There are a few people she does contact, or contact her from her past so we do get to enjoy scenes with people we have missed. Magic has totally changed Aurelia, even her looks, so she is able to navigate Atlanta fairly quietly to achieve her goals.

I got a flashback when Aurelia takes a homeless girl under her wing to protect. It took me back to how Julie came into Kate's life. Derek's appearance however brought the romantic tension I was looking for. It was nice and subtle, the way Kate and Curran started out. I was pretty content that there was at least a thread of romance going on.

Blood Heir was definitely a great start to the Aurelia Ryder series. Normally that is hard for me to say for a first book, but since there was so much familiar it didn't have that first book syndrome for me. It is exciting to see the differences that have developed between Aurelia and Julie. This book left me wanting more. Of course, everything Ilona Andrews writes leaves me feeling this way!
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I suppose the important thing to know going into this book is that you don’t need to have read the other books set in the same world first. Blood Heir starts a new series with a familiar character taking on a new role as chief protagonist. The first few chapters give you enough of the backstory to be going on with which slows down the narrative just a little but then the pace picks up and it’s a crazy ride all the way through. Set in a future version of Atlanta where successive waves of magic are gradually over-taking tech, the story has some interesting takes on the impact of human beliefs as powered by magic so watch out for hodags! The authors’ trademark humour lightens even the darker moments of the story and oh my goodness, the unrequited love story of the earlier books is back to tease and torture and tantalise all the way through to the end. And despite being the first of a new series there is a nice sense of completion to the immediate story arc while of course leaving lots of room for further developments.
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I was super excited to read this book and it was awesome! I found myself sitting up on the edge of my seat on the couch several times as I was reading this and it was hard to stop to do normal, boring adult stuff like stand when my Apple Watch buzzed me every hour. I was sucked into the story immediately. I got to the last 15% or so and held off reading the big battle until the next morning so I could savor it. So good; a great first read of the new year!

I have to make a couple of confessions—one: I haven’t finished the Kate Daniels series (I’m on book 7) and two: I didn’t read this as they were publishing this online. I’m so glad I waited to read the whole thing and while I am normally strict when it comes to reading series in order, I have no regrets reading this without finishing the Kate Daniels series or reading Iron and Magic. This is part of the Kate Daniels world and takes place well after Magic Triumphs so you will be spoiled by events in those books when you read Blood Heir so proceed accordingly.

Aurelia Ryder is the new identity of Julie, Kate’s adoptive daughter. She’s back in Atlanta on a mission after years away and is trying to avoid her family and the Pack for “reasons”. The years away have transformed Julie aka Aurelia into a warrior who has embraced her magic and then some and will do whatever it takes to protect her family. I do feel like Aurelia/Julie has a better “family” (be it found, adopted, or by birth family) support system than Kate did at the beginning of her series which I appreciate.

Aurelia aka Julie isn’t the only person who’s changed, taken on a new role and identity, and become more powerful over the years as Derek (aka Darren) is also back in Atlanta and seems to be investigating the same crime as Aurelia. I’m left with a lot of questions about Derek aka Darren and can’t wait to learn more.

This book starts what I believe will be an amazing new arc in the Kate Daniels world. Gods or pseudo gods, prophesies, mythic creatures, cool magic, political machinations, characters from the Kate Daniels books as well as new characters all come together to create this fabulous, engrossing story. There’s lots of fighting in this book so we get to read about Aurelia and Darren kicking butt too! One thread of the new threat is wrapped up but the bigger monster looms.

There’s some pining but no kissing or sexy times in Blood Heir so don’t go in expecting that. But it definitely fits where I think Julie and Derek are in their lives and any relationship. I think we’re in for a slow burn there, folks! I am excited to be in this world and with these complex characters for hopefully many books to come! Overall a very enjoyable read for me. I loved my return to the Kate Daniels world.

*Content warning: violence, children in peril

Grade: A-
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Julie is returning home to Atlanta after a long eight-year absence. Kate Daniels’ adopted daughter is now twenty-six, and she’s been busy the past eight years: fighting with the Canaanite god Moloch, the Child Eater, stealing one of his eyes for herself after he ripped out one of hers, being remade inside and out by the magical eye, learning about ancient powers and civilizations from her adoptive relatives … and still pining for Derek, the shapeshifter wolf she’s had a crush on since she was thirteen. But now she’s moved on. For sure. Definitely.

But it’s not the hope of seeing Derek again that brings Julie (now going by Aurelia Ryder) back to Atlanta, or even of seeing Kate. In fact, Julie most definitely does NOT want to see Kate. The oracle Sienna has seen a vision of the future, and Moloch is going to kill Kate if they meet, or even if Kate sees Julie, and all of Atlanta will then fall to Moloch. Julie is the wild card, the only chance of changing that horrendous future. And it’s probably a very good thing that Julie’s name, face, voice and even her scent have completely changed.

The immediate crisis is precipitated by the killing of a holy man in Atlanta, Nathan Haywood. Moloch’s priests are now in the city, searching for something unknown but powerful that is connected to the pastor’s murder. Sienna tells Julie that she needs to find this item before Moloch does, or all is lost. So Julie uses her connections to take over the official investigation into Pastor Haywood’s murder, but she’s competing not just with Moloch but with certain shapeshifters to solve the murder and find this mystery item.

For any Ilona Andrews fan, it’s definitely a treat to return to the KATE DANIELS world! Kate has moved off center stage for a well-deserved retirement (or at least a long break) after a ten-book run. But her world and its beloved characters continue to live on in two (so far) spin-off series, Hugh d’Ambrey’s IRON COVENANT series (beginning with Iron and Magic) and now Julie’s new AURELIA RYDER series, beginning here with Blood Heir.

Julie has grown up and become a tougher person with impressive skills and the will to wield them. She still has the power to discern different types of magic, but can now also wield many of the magical powers of Kate and her adoptive family, like blood armor, courtesy of Moloch’s eye and Kate’s blood in Julie’s system. Some other familiar characters, it turns out, have also been doing some significant changing. Not to mention the whole Atlanta pack and their internal politics, which are in turmoil. Jim, the Beast Lord, wants to retire, but there’s no clear heir apparent. Conlan, Kate and Curran’s son, has tremendous powers for his age, but he’s only ten. Ascanio, the beta of Clan Bouda (the hyenas), is gunning for the spot, but not everyone in the Pack supports him.

Blood Heir glosses over some complicated back history about Julie’s interactions with Kate’s father Roland, her aunt Erra, and Erra’s new kingdom that she’s been busy building on the west coast of America, where Julie is her heir and a princess. I would love to get a few more of those stories in more detail at some point. The story of Julie and Moloch’s eye, though, has been told in “The King of Fire,” which is attached at the end of Blood Heir and also appears on the Andrews’ website.

As always in Ilona Andrews’ novels, there’s a magical mystery with an exotic element, a slow-burning romantic subplot, great character interactions and humorous dialogue:

"The Witch Oracle had a vision.”
“Oh goodie. They always have visions. It’s always vague and it’s always bad. Just once I’d like a prophecy proclaiming that, without a doubt, everything is going to be fine.”

Blood Heir has many familiar characters from the KATE DANIELS series, a few new ones, and one or two real surprises. A few intriguing open-ended mysteries are raised — How did a certain werewolf get an entirely new appearance? How does Christopher’s and Barabas’s daughter Sophia exist? And what’s up with the alpha wolf Desandra and her son Desimir? — that, hopefully, will be answered (soon, please!) in a later book.

Dedicated Ilona Andrews fans will have seen some chapters of Blood Heir on their website before (most are gone now), but the final book includes the previously unseen last half of the story, as well as several new scenes and a lot of additional details that add depth and color to the story. It’s an entertaining read and a solid start to a new spin-off series.
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Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews (a husband & wife team) is set in the fabulous world of the authors’ best selling Kate Daniels series. The main character is Julia (aka Julie) the adopted daughter of Kate. It’s been 8 years (in the book’s timeline) since we last saw Julie ride away from Atlanta and she’s been through a lot. Julie’s reason for her return to her hometown involves a threat to her family. The complication: she has to address the threat without anyone finding out her identity or, according to the Oracle, everything will go hellaciously wrong. Hey, she has a new name and a new face 😳 so it shouldn’t be that hard, right? 

I am an avid fan of Ilona Andrews mostly because I love their world building. Their ability to describe a scene is nearly magical. Blood Heir is no different. They paint detailed pictures with words like few others do. 

“Around me the old bones of Midtown spread under the pale grey pre-dawn sky. Jagged corpses of skyscrapers jutted from the sea of rubble. Some had fallen whole; others broke off midway, and their husks stared at the world with black holes of empty windows. Strange lichens sheathed their walls, some coiling in ridges on the brick and stucco like ancient fossil shells, others drooping in long crimson strands that moved and shivered without any wind. Decorative hedges that once bordered sidewalks had grown foot-long thorns.”

When I read that scene, I could see it in my mind as clearly as I would watching a movie. To me, it is Urban Fantasy at its best: descriptions of impossible things in ways that make them seem eerily real. 

In addition to that, the storytelling is *really* good. While the story in Blood Heir is new and the structure is modern, it is reminiscent of traditional folklore in the best of ways. It is clever and entertaining while staying true to humanity, even when some of the characters aren’t quite human. 

I am a voracious reader of mostly fiction. I read around 250 books last year, I have around 500 paperback & hardback books in my house, and I have 177 titles in my audiobook library. Many of them I have read (or listened to) more than once. I state all of that to say, I love books. 😉 I have read a lot of mediocre books, some terrible books, and some excellent books. Blood Heir is, IMO, one of the excellent books. I will definitely read it again and I am anxiously awaiting the next book! 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.   

#BloodHeir #NetGalley
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I love Ilona Andrews, and I read nearly everything that they write, so I couldn't wait to read Blood Heir. I'm happy to report that the story was as intense, dynamic, engaging, and exciting as I was hoping it would be. However, there are a few key things that readers should know before going into the story.

First and foremost is that you MUST have read the majority of the Kate Daniels books prior to starting this one. Though Blood Heir is billed as the start of a new series, don't be fooled into thinking it's a stand-alone. It absolutely isn't. I've read seven of the Kate Daniels books, the last one being four years ago, and it was a struggle for me to remember what was going on. I had to pause and constantly search through my memories as to who the characters were and what their unique characteristics were because there is a huge amount of information presented to the readers at once. We are expected to jump into the story and take off running, and that was honestly hard for me.

There is no romance in this one... well, almost... I guess you could say that there were wisps of something *possibly* starting, but this is in no way, shape, or form a romance book. Just expect an exciting urban fantasy, and go from there. Personally, I enjoyed that about this book, but setting expectations are important.

The storyline will keep you on your toes, and you won't want to put it down. I finished the story in less than 24 hours! I didn't want to stop reading. Sure, I didn't know exactly what was happening all the time (damn, all of those people I couldn't quite remember), but I still wanted to know what would happen next.

The bottom line is that Ilona Andrews delivered another juicy story with a killer female MC and some great potential for more. I think with the next book I'll be more up on the world and better able to jump right in.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
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Blood Heir is the first installment in authors Ilona Andrews Aurelia Ryder series. This is obviously a spin-off of the Kate Daniels series which ended with Magic Triumphs. This story takes place 8 years after Julie Olsen-Lennart left Atlanta to make her own way in the world and to gain insight into her sensate magic. For years, she's been training with Roland, who she calls her grandfather, and Erra, her great-aunt who named her heir of Shinar. With two powerful entities like Roland and Erra to guide her, Julie has become a powerful force to be reckoned with.

    "When magic crests at its peak, the King of Fire will leave his citadel of misery in the Western Desert and travel east to devour the queen who doesn't rule and sever bloodline reborn. Only the one who shares his power may oppose him." 

4 years ago, Julie, was told of a prophecy from the oracle Sienna. After battling the God called Moloch, the Child Eater, and taking his eye, Julie returns to Atlanta 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. Sienna advised Aurelia that if Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. She also can’t have any contact with Kate or Curran. Aurelia’s plan is supposed to be simple; get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized.

Her mission is to investigate Pastor Haywood's murder who she believes was killed on Moloch's orders and stop them. Her first stop is the Order of Mercurial Aid under Knight Protector Nikolas Feldman who has a complicated relationship with her adopted family. Aurelia holds the Tower card one of 5 in existence. It was given to her by a Order Master which grants her the right to call on the Order for aid and gives her the authority of a Knight-Captain outranking everyone except for Nick. Aurelia is granted status as Knight-Defender with her own badge to keep her identity and mission a secret from the rank and file. One could call Aurelia a mercenary with a military mindset.

Aurelia is a much, much different character than the former Julie Olsen-Lennart. She belongs to New Shinar and to Erra, the Plaguebringer, the City Eater, Rigmur Pana-Shinar-the Voice of the Old Kingdom who she calls Grandmother. She's also called Dananu Edes-Shinar, the strength of New Shinar, and a Princess as well. Atlanta isn't the same place she left behind. She’s found time to be with Conlan when he visits with Roland. If you are wondering about Kate and Curran, Kate has moved on, Curran shows up once, but neither is a major part of this story. Conlan who is now 9 years old, does.

Aurelia has a horse named Tulip that is bloodthirsty. She has a hawk named Turgan that sees and hears what she can’t. She has a sword similar to Kate’s and a Spear named Dakkan. She’s accepted her magic and is no longer scared of using it to save herself or others. She’s got a heart of gold when it comes to orphaned street kids. In fact, it is her mission to protect the children from Moloch who loves to feed on them. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that she would be recognized by the one person she lost her heart to: Derek.

I think there’s a lot to discuss about Aurelia and Derek’s possible future now that he knows about her. Julie was in love with him for 5 years, but he never made any effort to take the relationship to the next level like Curran and Kate when Kate used to bring him food or make him meals. Derek has a whole lot of issues of his own and I don’t mean with Aurelia. After all, he could easily be Pack Alpha any time he wants to be, and he proves that by getting revenge on the thing that killed his friend the Pastor. There are others from the Kate Daniels who show up in this series like Luther, DeSandra, Andrea’s son Ascanio Ferara who is a piece of work now, along with Christopher and Ghastek.

I think this is a good start to a hopefully new series. There is just enough action and suspense to keep the faithful Ilona Andrews lovers happy. There are a few surprises along the way as well.

 

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."
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I love the Kate Daniels series and was so sad it reached a conclusion, so it was a huge delight to see another strand of the family tales come to life. Ilona Andrews have a found a fantastic and credible way to bring Julie into the family power, with the same snappy lines and speedy story - no belabouring a point - that I really appreciate. I want to know more about Conlan and the rest of his generation, what will happen with Marten and, obviously, Derek. There's just the right mix of action, mystery and romance to stop it becoming too much one thing or the other. I've already read it twice.
This follow up on Julie's life is a brilliant start to what I hope is a whole new collection - I know three are coming, but I'm sure there's room for more . . .
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Before beginning this review I should confess that I haven't read any of the ten books in the Kate Daniels series. I was introduced to Ilona Andrews' writing through the Hidden Legacy series (which I highly recommend) but found the ten books in the KD series a bit daunting when my reading time is at a premium. Did not reading those books have a negative impact on my ability to enjoy Blood Heir, the first book in a new spin-off series, featuring a key character from the KD series? Absolutely not! Did reading Blood Heir make me want to download the entire KD series and begin reading those books immediately? Well, let's just say that Magic Bites (the first KD book) is now waiting on my Kindle and leave it at that. 

One of the things I most enjoy about an Ilona Andrews book is the world building; how this husband and wife writing team expertly brings a well-known, present-day city to life in an entirely new, unexpected, and realistic way. I've been to Atlanta many times, driven her streets, visited her neighborhoods. Andrews' post-shift Atlanta is like nothing I've ever seen and yet it's brought to life so vividly that I had no trouble imagining it. The attention to detail (street intersections, college campuses, local eateries) give it a striking authenticity and sucked me into the belief that this Atlanta could actually exist. 

And then there are the characters. The care that is taken in creating each of the characters makes the reading experience all the more powerful. No single-dimension, cardboard cut-outs here. Each one is given layers and complexities that convince the reader that these are not really characters in a book but actual people who are walking the streets of post-apocalyptic Atlanta. When they engage their magical abilities, it seems natural. When they shift into another form, it's exhilarating rather than surprising. 

Many of the characters in this book were introduced, or had story arcs, in the Kate Daniels series but I never felt lost or confused when meeting them in Blood Heir. Andrews skillfully inserts bits and pieces throughout the book that paint a complete picture of each cross-over character, and their back story, without the onerous info-dump that is so often inserted into a book that connects to a prior series. I had no difficulty connecting with them and understanding their motivations. 

I love how this author uses a wide range of breath-stealing danger, heart-wrenching emotion, unexpected humor (yes, I did snort-laugh in a few places), and everyday activities (a heroine who de-stresses from fighting monsters by baking cookies) to illustrate the many sides of these characters and create a bond between them and the reader. I am now fully invested in Aurelia/Julie, Derek, little Marten, Douglas, and more. It doesn't matter if it takes four books or ten to complete their stories. I plan to be here for each and every one of them. 

*ARC received for fair and unbiased review
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Blood Heir is a whole new story set in a familiar and well-loved world. For those familiar with the Kate Daniels series, Blood Heir begins roughly eight years after the conclusion of Kate’s series. The story is shared from the point-of-view of Kate and Curran’s adopted daughter, Julie Olson, now known as Aurelia Ryder. When she left eight years ago to follow her great aunt (whom she calls grandmother), she didn’t intend to be gone for so long. Now she’s returned to her hometown of Atlanta, but so much has changed, including her looks and magic, and she cannot let her parents know she’s in town or they will die. She’s returned to investigate a gruesome murder that is tied to saving Kate and Curran and in turn, the world.

When I first started Blood Heir, I was heartbroken to learn that Julie has been gone for so much time. With that said, the time away, the things she’s learned, the experiences she’s endured, they’ve all shaped her (literally) into a new woman. She truly has become Kate’s daughter in so many ways, yet she is still her own person. Unlike Kate, Julie embraces the magic of Kate’s lineage. Yet, she is kind-hearted and always puts the needs of others before her own. I found the reasons for Julie’s transformation fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyed learning more about her experiences and the woman she’s become.

Blood Heir takes time to develop a new mythology and new big bad. There is also time dedicated to catching up readers on the happenings of favorite characters. Some have faired well, others not as much. The Pack is dealing with internal struggles and Atlanta is on the verge of an explosive melt down, creating the ideal setting for an exciting adventure. Even though things are different, at times the story feels a lot like Kate’s story. The location, the characters, the magic, they are all familiar. Julie is creating her own path; however, it’s in Kate’s shadow.

There is a reason the writing team of Ilona Andrews is probably my all-time favorite: they create magic with their words. They weave details together so tightly, creating amazing stories, and when the book is over, one sees the intricate patterns in the big picture. Their humor remains spot-on; I laughed out loud when Bishop Chao refers to Julie as “Knight Ryder.” Everything I love about Ilona Andrew’s storytelling is present in Blood Heir.

In the end, I really enjoyed my time back in Atlanta with Julie and the gang. While part of the enjoyment is certainly due to nostalgia, the larger part comes from the joy of following Julie as she pieces together the mystery, fights bad guys, and reconnects with old friends. I cannot wait for more stories in the Aurelia Ryder series.

My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot
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Oh wow, it was so much fun to sink back into the world of Kate Daniels. I know I love Ilona Andrews, but I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this world, so I enjoyed Blood Heir immensely. It was great to see what Julie’s been up to since she left at the end of the original series and to revisit so many of my favorite characters from the world of Kate Daniels. So many things haven’t gone how I’d expect! Even without the nostalgia factor, I think this is a great installment set in this world, with an intriguing mystery that Julie has to solve, a new villain, and lots of magic and ass kicking. It was the book I chose to start 2021 off on a high note, and it did not disappoint!!

The only thing I will say is that Julie’s voice really doesn’t sound much different than Kate’s. Ilona Andrews did such an incredible job making Nevada and Catalina distinct in the Hidden Legacy series, and I thought Dina and Maud were fairly different as well in the Innkeepers books. But if you had used Kate’s name instead of Julie’s (and replaced Kate with someone else), I’m not sure I would have realized. This is a pretty minor quibble, though. Like I said, I enjoyed this book immensely and seriously cannot wait to see what Ilona Andrews have in store for Julie in future books!!
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Look, I love the Kate Daniels world with my whole heart and cannot be objective. On one hand, BLOOD HEIR is too info-dumpy and the ratio of description: dialogue is skewed. I understand why: new readers need backstory/explanation to the world. But whew, it was a lot of setup. On the other hand, I would read a hundred pages of Kate Daniels description and be ridiculously happy because this world is my comfort zone. If I attempted to write a longform review, it would be a string of "TEAM METAL ROSE!!!!!" squeals. I have been shipping Julie and Derek for ten years and I cannot believe that this series is finally happening. I'm excited for the audiobook to come out so I can reread and catch details I missed.

BLOOD HEIR is a typical first book in an urban fantasy series. Lots of worldbuilding strings and mysteries introduced, very little payoff in anticipation of future books. I would not recommend BLOOD HEIR to a new-to-Kate-Daniels reader. Sure, technically everything is explained but you'll feel very lost and miss out on emotional beats. The best parts occur when Julie talks to someone from the past; the nostalgic resonance of those conversations is crucial and I'm unsure if a new reader would appreciate the nuances. It's a large, complex world and even I (a mega-fan who has reread the series dozens of times) struggled with keeping worldbuilding facts in order. This is not the place to begin your journey in dystopian Atlanta.

Some spoilery discussion: [OK, so Julie's whole deal is that she's radically different from the original series: appearance, scent, knowledge, personality, etc. Her old friends don't recognize her. I'm still ambivalent about this plot point because what I've always loved about Julie is that she ISN'T the most beautiful/powerful person in the room. I've grudgingly accepted it for now (I will like it eventually! I am just resistant to change, lol).

Yet Julie says that she's talked on the phone recently with Kate (one month ago) and Roman (a couple years ago re: Conlan bullying situation). So there have been phone calls after her transformation (which took place four years ago). And... they recognize her voice? Her voice is the same? Is she modulating her voice to sound different in person vs the phone? I don't understand at all.

I also think it's amusing that Julie's whole shtick is, "I have to be incognito! No one can know my connection to Kate." Then she constantly breaks her cover by speaking in the old language during non-emergencies (I understand constructing blood armor during a fight. But there are a lot of eye-catching magical demonstrations when she's supposed to be hiding). This is less an inconsistency and more Julie doing a terrible job of maintaining her disguise, lol. There are other minor things that made me pause, but it wasn't overwhelming. (hide spoiler)]

A note re: something that niggled at me: Julie buys an “antebellum mansion” (built during the turn of the 20th century) in the middle of Atlanta. First, that makes zero sense because 1900 isn't antebellum (I assume the typo is supposed to say 19th century). Second, I am so fucking relieved Julie hired someone to wreck the property into ruins and make the former architecture unrecognizable. I am not interested in watching Julie live in an antebellum property that used to house slaves. That would be terrible on multiple levels. However, Julie DOES convert the space into another livable structure that deceptively looks like ruins from the outside. She chose this area because it's close to Unicorn Lane (important for magic reasons), but tbh the antebellum mansion detail is pointless and could've easily been excluded. There was even a descriptive paragraph of what the house USED to look like, fancy columns and wide porches and all. Like, why? WHY?!?

Ugh. Just ugh. I honestly can't figure out how to feel about this. I feel like I'm super sensitive about antebellum/plantation living spaces; contemporary fiction often glamorizes antebellum architecture (majestic columns! Lovely porch! Gross!) while conveniently erasing slavery from the discussion. This book isn't that. The old antebellum house is literally in ruins and wrecked beyond belief. The new living space has a different architectural style. None of this feels like glamorizing antebellum culture. Honestly, I don't think it's a huge deal but the description might trip you up if you're sensitive like me. Every time the property is featured in the book, I think "ex-antebellum area with slaves!" and it's not a positive aside. I so wish this detail didn't exist because now my brain will latch on to it and cringe every single time. Ugh. Just wanted to give readers a head's up.
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This review was originally posted on <a href="https://booksofmyheart.net/2021/01/11/blood-heir-by-ilona-andrews/" target="_blank"> Books of My Heart</a>
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<i>Review copy was received from Publicity team. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.</i>

I pre-ordered <strong>Blood Heir</strong> on July 17, 2020.  I was ecstatic to get an ARC to review it because Ilona Andrews is my favorite author. <em>(Added - I did not read Robin's review until I had written mine) </em> The <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/series/301558-aurelia-ryder" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em><strong>Aurelia Ryder</strong></em></a> series is a spin-off from the <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/series/40691-kate-daniels" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em><strong>Kate Daniels</strong></em></a> series, almost a decade into the future.   Julie has become Aurelia Ryder and is visiting Atlanta for the first time since she left.

I loved learning what happened to Julie after she left Atlanta.  I didn't really consider it before, but we find out what happened to her when Kate "died." They shared a blood connection so she felt that loss. It seems appropriate for her to become close with "Uncle Hugh" since he lost his tie to Roland and felt something similar.  She's also spent a lot of time with Erra developing her skills.  She has many abilities.

I enjoyed everything from learning about Julie's growth and changes to seeing many beloved characters again.  I was happy to see Conlan and Christopher.  But of course, Derek is a real surprise.  What has happened to him now?  It's no surprise Ascanio is still an ass.  Nicholas Feldman has undergone some changes too.  The mysterious dealer of artifacts was not exactly unespected.

The "case" revolves around an artifact. Everyone who encounters the artifact is brutally murdered.  Aurelia, with her new talents, and old knowledge of Atlanta is well-equipped to figure out what is happening.  She also knows about the elder god, Moloch, who has been building power, whose first target is Kate. She has been fighting him for four years already.   Her information comes from a childhood friend, Sienna, who is a witch and Oracle.

I highly recommend this book, but I do think you will enjoy it more reading Kate Daniels series first. It may be 10+ books to read but Kate Daniels is an amazing read! Plus it's all available and you can binge!  I had to actually WAIT for some of the books. There is so much world and character development you would miss without it .  The other key is the subtle jokes and humor based in knowing the characters so well.

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So good to visit old friends. I always loved Julie and Derek and was absolutely thrilled when I heard the authors were going to write about them. As always, the intelligent and thrilling ride they take you on is wonderful and visiting with old friends from the Kate Daniels world is such a treat. I know the authors wrote this for their readers as a gift of sorts to help get us through the Covid pandemic. I can only hope they continue this journey so Julie and Derek can find their HEA.
Thanx to Net Galley for the advanced copy.
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This review is part of the Blood Heir Blog Tour, kindly organized by Fantasy Book Critic. #BloodHeirKD
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Back to Atlanta.
Back among old friends.

"To the fans of Kate Daniels World who refuse to let it go."

Aww look, I just got my first and very apt book dedication!

Joking apart, Kate Daniels’s crazy world, her dysfunctional Atlanta and her colorful friends and foes alike aren’t things I am ready to let go. If there is more, I will read it. If there isn't, I will reread the existing stories over and over again. But Blood Heir, however, is not a book about Kate. is a book (and the first installment in a new series) about Julie, Kate’s protégé and probably my least favorite regular character. Did I care? May be a bit, may be at first, but not enough to make me consider walking away. As long as it was set in Atlanta, the mere chance of seeing some of the old cast was incentive enough to pre-order the book months in advance and pounce on the opportunity to read it early.

After a long absence, spent learning, training and fighting under the tutelage of a powerful ally, Julie is back to her natal Atlanta with a new face, new skills and a new name (Aurelia Ryder). Her mission? To solve a gruesome murder and save those she loves the most while keeping her identity secret. Get in, investigate, get out. Easy-peasy. Yeah sure.

I won't say more about the premise. That's basically all I knew going in. It kept me dying to know more. My anticipation to see familiar faces was off the charts.

I liked Aurelia. She was a very well rounded character. Her rigorous training and her new status honed her skills and made her sharp, disciplined and level-headed. Her transformation reminded me of Catalina’s, in the second Hidden Legacy trilogy. Admittedly I wasn’t initially convinced either would make a good lead character (both were young and immature in their respective series). I was proved wrong in both cases. While her deep-seated loyalty and devotion to her found family hadn’t budged, a closer inspection showed some of the old insecurities and scars. Which eventually made me reconcile Aurelia with Julie. If I am being completely honest, it took me a few chapters to come to terms with this new personality because I already had a good grasp of her traits and her natural reactions. But the circumstances and ordeals had changed Julie, irreversibly and for the better. I ended up respecting Aurelia and rooting for her.

As to the story, it stood perfectly well on its own despite being a spin-off. Mixing a well-knit murder investigation, a gritty mythology (inspired by a Canaanite deity and cleverly rewritten for the benefit of the story), magic demonstrations, cinematic fighting scenes (The Andrews EXCEL at those!), many funny situations as well as personal tribulations and drama, the story made an excellent urban fantasy intrigue. But here is the thing, it would be just that for new comers to this world. The gradually introduced background made sure anyone would get the gist of the previous story and major players. What made it into a real treat however was that it was deeply personal and that it came with a huge emotional and nostalgic baggage for every Kate Daniels connoisseur.

But enough with the praise. Blood Heir has a big flaw: it is but a tantalizing appetizer and it will leave you yearning for more. You’ve been warned! Man, but it's been a while since I last checked the reading percentage on my kindle this frequently and this anxiously, hoping I didn't progress too far, wondering which old friend will appear next. This book also reads like a transitional one, bridging the original story and that of the new generation (Aurelia and at least two prominent characters from the main Kate Daniels saga). And to get things even more engaging and exciting, the authors started preparing the next generation (note: they are hilarious).
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I don't read much urban or contemporary fantasy, but I've somehow gotten hooked on pretty much all of the books written by author duo Ilona Andrews. So, I was quite happy to receive an advance review copy of their latest book, Blood Heir, which will make its debut on January 12, 2021.  

Blood Heir is the first in a spin-off series based on the authors’ popular Kate Daniels books, but featuring Kate's daughter/ward Julie as the protagonist. It’s a wonderful romp, with occasional moments of seriousness.  For followers of the Kate Daniels series, it is great to be back in Atlanta, several years later, and see glimpses of what has been going on in the meantime.  The "new" Julie, now known as Aurelia Ryder, has honed not just her magic skills, but also her sense of snark, resulting in a plentiful supply of memorable one-liners - enough that I wasn’t able to read this around anyone else for fear of laughing out loud.  It is also quite entertaining to see how some of the kids from the Kate Daniels era are growing up.  And there are some gruesome new magical creatures and a truly nasty villain to shudder about.   

At the same time, though, this engaging blend of sharp wit, insane fights, and lots of well-researched mythology is augmented by some societal musings, for lack of a better word.   The post-shift world can be quite harsh at times, and offers occasional uncomfortable parallels to today’s (real) society.   A few somber discussions scattered throughout the book, especially about how Julie’s approach to things is diverging from Kate’s, add some heft to Blood Heir, and keep it from being just another adventure story.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing how some of these themes develop in later books.  

Having read a partial serialization on IA’s website this past summer, I was pretty sure I was going to love Blood Heir, and I did.  I don’t give five-star ratings easily, but this book gets one from me.  Just about my only issue with Blood Heir is that it comes to what is at best an intermediate conclusion, and there are several hooks left open for an ongoing story arc.  Readers, including me, are going to want more books in the series – and my fingers are crossed that we won’t have to wait too long.  

Note: although I think it’s not necessary to have read the Kate Daniels series to enjoy Blood Heir, readers who haven’t may want to skip to the end, and read one or both of the “Ryder Extras” appended there, which don’t contain spoilers, and may provide some useful background, especially the first one.  And finally, my thanks to Independent Publishers Group/NYLA and NetGalley for the advance review copy!
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I loved the Kate Daniels series and was thrilled to see a new spin off novel. So I was very happy to get into this novel. This time we follow Julie, who returns to Atlanta after an eight-year absence.

Following a terrible prophecy, Julie, under the name of Aurelia Ryder, is forced to return to her hometown to fight a new danger that could well make all the people she loves disappear. In addition to a new name, she also has a new face and a new smell so that no one will recognize her. But now her investigation leads her to the murder of a man that everyone loved and an artifact that he had to authenticate. This investigation also puts her back on the road to Derek and Ascanio.

Once again I had a great time with this story and it was a pleasure to be back with the characters and the world. Things are just getting started here and I’m sure we’ll learn more soon! The characters have all changed, they all have very different goals and yet they still have something of who they were.

A very nice novel once again!
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The Kate Daniels world is built for expansion! Blood Heir is a worthy follow up to this blockbuster series. This novel is a must-buy for fans ready for intrigue, magic and romance!
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