Read by Renee Raudman
Length: 12 Hrs 43 Min
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Quick Thoughts: Gunmetal Magic managed to defy my expectations. Despite some issues with the romantic storyline, it was a fast, fun urban fantasy tale full of some badass action, crazed death cults, angry old gods and enough dark humor and likable characters to keep me smiling for most of the listen.
2013 Audie Nomination for Paranormal
If you have been following along with my Armchair Audies travels, you will know that I have completed the Fantasy Category and have most of the Science Fiction Category done before the announcements were every made. So we are moving on to probably the most confusing, strange and at times, problematic categories of the lot, Paranormal. With the Fantasy and Science Fiction Categories, there is for the most part, a thematic shared element to the books chose, yet, Paranormal is such an ill defined category that it offers its own slew of problems. The category has 5 nominees, two of which I had already listened to, leaving three strange bedfellows. We have one nominee that is the 12th and final book of a series I had never even considered reading, one novel about zombies, which let’s face it, is right in my wheelhouse, and finally, what I guess seems like the odd duck of the group, Gunmetal Magic. I have to admit I came into my listening of Gunmetal Magic with a lot of preconceived notions. You see, I have really been surprised by the lack of Paranormal Romance titles in the Paranormal Category, and I’ll be honest, when I read the book was about shape shifters, that the plot involved some troubled romance with some hunky were-something or other and was written by a woman, I made an assumption that this would be a Paranormal Romance title. This of course concerned me for a few reasons. I have nothing against Paranormal Romance, but many of my readers know about my history with sexy dragons. I have documented my personal issues sex in audiobooks and with romance on a few occasions, and simply put, I have a hard time connecting with Romantic plots and with novels where romance is the driving force of the novel. Yet, I was assured by some who I trust that this is an Urban Fantasy, with some romantic elements on line with most novels within the genre, and a hot and heavy animal shifting sex romp where our characters frolic and fornicate, only briefly stopping to handle some sort of plot related issue. Of course, there is still like kissing, and maybe some light petting so I was still wary.
Gunmetal Magic is a standalone spin off novel of Ilona Andrews’ popular Kate Daniels Urban Fantasy Series, which focuses on Kate Daniel’s Best Friend Andrea Nash. It takes place in a world where Magic has reappeared, often to nearly apocalyptic results, changing the world’s landscape, reawakening gods and altering many of its inhabitants. Andrea is a Shape-Shifter, a hyena beast-kin who never feels at homes in either the human or shifter worlds. When she is called to investigate a vicious murder that takes place at her sort of Ex-Boyfriend, the Alpha of the local were-hyena pack, job site, she finds her struggles to remain independent of pack increasingly difficult. I have to say, I enjoyed Gunmetal Magic more than I thought I would It was a fast, fun urban fantasy tale full of some badass action, crazed death cults, angry old gods and enough dark humor and likable characters to keep me smiling for most of the listen. This is, of course, except for the parts that made me want to bang my head repeatedly against the wall to bash out the bad feelings saturating my soul. I found the world Andrews has created to be fascinating. As someone new to the series, it took me a bit to get my head around the changed world, and I wish there were a few more details about it, but since this was an established world, Andrews does a good job of providing just the right amount of information, without going into expositional overload for her returning customers. I really enjoyed Andrea Nash as the main character. She was the right blend of troubled past, flawed personality, quirky sense of humor and take no shit badassery. My favorite parts of the novel had to be the deepening of her back story, and her internal and political struggles to find her place in the world. Andrews did a great job developing this character, and filling her story in with a bunch of quirky and interesting characters. I thought the overall plot well realized involving a decent investigational process, some cool fight scenes, and an overall mythology which although at times seemed a bit overly complicated, played nicely on the themes of the oblivion of the old gods. Where the novel bogged down, at times for significant portions, was the romantic elements. Simply put, I hated the romantic lead. Hated him with a fury I usually reserve for Martin Short movies and internet news story commenters. He was everything I hate about male romantic leads, the ultimate hunky alpha male, who is a huge arrogant controlling asshole who gets angry when the smart women he loves has a mind of her own, and doesn’t betray all her other relationships because her big manly man wants her to. Oh, but it’s all good, because they have chemistry, he looks really hot, and has enough money to buy her an expensive gift. That totally makes up for his treating her like property. Sure, part of his personality comes from the shape shifting pack mentality nature of his character, and I can see why many readers would like the dangerous brooding asswipe, but I simply wished a fiery death upon him and his essence he wiped from the annals of history so I never had to think of him again. Yeah, he was a bit of a douche. Yet, remove this total jackass from the mix, and I would have had a relatively frustration free, bordering on joyful experience with Gunmetal Magic.
This is my first experience with Renee Raudman outside of her work in a zombie anthology I listened to earlier this year. I found her performance in Gunmetal Magic quite interesting. There were times I felt she had the typical sexy sly delivery that you find in many urban fantasies that center around 20 something females. She infuses her characters with enough southern charm, where appropriate. At times though, her voice had something more to it, a sort of strange slur, that was unique and intriguing and gave the narration an interesting flavor. She managed to make Andrea’s Texas charms sound almost exotic. Her voice really stood out for me, separating her from the typical and making my listening experience that much better. She also managed to convey the slow delineate manner of Andrea’s thought process, while still giving the action the rapid fire pacing it needed. All together, it’s clear to see why this title was nominated for an Audie based on Raudman’s excellent performance.