I’m currently rereading one of my favorite series the Kate Daniels books by Ilona Andrews, who is actually the husband and wife team Gordan and Ilona Andrews. Seriously, if you haven’t read these, they’re one of the best urban fantasy series on the market, and they have one of the best worldbuilding premises I’ve come across.
Rereading all of them in the last few weeks, I’m constantly admiring their descriptions and worldbuilding. But it’s their openings that I particularly noticed this go-round.
Here’s how Magic Bites (book 1) opens:
I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone’s Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit. My wards shivered and died, leaving my home stripped of its defenses. The TV flared into life, unnaturally loud in the empty house.
I raised my eyebrow at the bottle and bet it that another urgent bulletin was on.
The bottle lost.
– From Magic Bites
Look at that. It’s a thing of beauty. In just the first sentence you’ve established the mental state of the protagonist (shadowy kitchen, staring down alcohol) and the fact that magic fluctuates in this world, a huge part of the series and one of the major premises of the world. Suddenly you’re in a world where magic and technology coexist, but not at the same time. What does that mean?
And then you’ve got that little bit of black humor: “The bottle lost.” In just five sentences they’ve totally established the tone of the book, and basically the entire series.
It’s beautiful, but it’s not my favorite opener. My favorite is in Magic Breaks (book 7). It involves a bunnycat, a teenage shapeshifter, and an icy beam over a huge drop.