Magic Stars is a novella in the excellent Kate Daniels urban fantasy series, with the events falling between the 8th and 9th books of the series. Lone werewolf Derek Gaunt is the POV character in this action-packed story which leaves us wanting more, and since this novella is also called Grey Wolf #1, we can look forward to more. In this story, Derek and Julie, Kate’s foster daughter, hunt down a warlock whose quest for a magic rock has led to the murder of a family.
I have to admit that I felt like Julie was introduced to the series like a TV show orphan/new relative trope, wherein a new family member, mostly grown, is brought in to revive a show or bring in a younger audience. You know that you are supposed to care about this new character because the main characters do, but you nevertheless have a hard time warming up to them. Julie is like that for me. However, this is one of the stories where I realized that Julie has grown on me, as she has grown up to be an honorable, tough warrior like Kate, with less of the contrarian rebelliousness of earlier years. She’s still sneaky and smart, but handles sometimes scary situations with a pragmatic levelheadedness that I find appealing.
Our main characters in this novella, like in the larger Kate Daniels world, have this basic philosophy: “Every time you see a problem and walk away from it, you set a new standard.” Characters become involved in a lot of trouble and intrigue because of this philosophy, and that’s why you respect them so much. This story is no exception, and Derek and Julie struggle with their own demons in addition to the external ones, as we get to see more of Derek and Julie’s devotion to each other and the ramifications of Julie’s connection with Roland through being changed by Kate. While this isn’t a novella for people new to the series, it helps flesh out the world a little more, while adding yet another set of point-of-view characters to follow.