Title: Death Magic (World of the Lupi #8)
Author: Eileen Wilks
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Eileen Wilks’ World of the Lupi is one of my favorite series, and I believe that it’s seriously underappreciated among fans of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The heroine, Lily Yu, is the only female protagonist of Asian descent that I can think of in paranormal romance (if you know of any others, I’d love to hear about it!), and she is one tough chick. I love her relationship with werewolf Rule Turner, and if you’re a fan of J.D. Robb’s In Death series and its longstanding couple Eve Dallas and Roarke, I think you will enjoy Ms. Wilks’ series as well. With the exception of Night Season (book 4), which focuses on another couple, the series is devoted to Lily and Rule.
If you are new to the series, I highly recommend that you not begin with Death Magic. While you could probably follow along easily enough, you would be missing so much of the back story that I think it worthwhile to recommend that you start with book 1, Tempting Danger. (This review will contain spoilers for earlier books in the series, so consider yourself forewarned.) Watching Rule and Lily meet and fall in love is too much fun to miss, and Tempting Danger is one that I find myself re-reading frequently. Another favorite is book 5, Mortal Sins, because we get to see Rule interact with his charming 9 year old son, Toby, but my absolute favorite in the series was Book 7 – Blood Challenge. That said, Death Magic was an outstanding addition to the series, and I highly recommend it.
Death Magic deals with the beginning of the Lupi’s war against their enemy, the female goddess referred to only as the Great Bitch, and as such the novel is darker in tone than many of the others. Rule and Lily are back in Washington D.C., because they are testifying at Senate hearings. Lily is conflicted about her job, because Ruben Brooks, her superior at the FBI, informs her that he’s heading up an extra governmental organization to fight their enemy and invites her to join. Lily’s torn, because this organization violates all her beliefs about rule of law, but Ruben’s precognition has sent him visions of an apocalyptic future if they don’t manage to stop their enemy. Lily and Rule have had previous run-ins with this enemy, since she tends to operate throuth the anti-magic group Humans First. When the Senator questioning Rule and Lily at the hearings is discovered murdered and a witness places Ruben Brooks at the scene, Lily joins the official investigation. But just as the case becomes more involved, Lily begins to experience mysterious migraines and stroke-like symptoms. Can she continue the investigation while fighting a more formidable enemy?
Ms. Wilks’ novels are always complex and feature tight writing, and Death Magic is no exception. The world building in her books blows me away, particularly this one, since we learn more about the rules governing magic. How she manages to keep track of them all, much less invent said rules, never fails to astonish me. The secondary character of Cullen Seabourne, sorcerer and lupus, serves as our main source for this information, but I like that we learn about the world gradually through give and take with Cullen and other characters so there’s never an infodump.
The pacing of the novel is also well done. We have several plotlines running simultaneously with no confusion on the reader’s part. The threat hanging over all the characters of a possible apocalypse maintains the tension throughout the novel, but the last fourth of the novel really takes off with a white-knuckled race to the finish. While I was able to identify the traitor Lily and the others were looking for fairly early, I was surprised by the plot twist concerning Ruben. I did NOT expect that at all, and kudos to Ms. Wilks for a clever resolution to that situation.
My main complaint about Death Magic has more to do with my affection for certain secondary characters in the series than any flaws in the writing, which is stellar as usual. Cullen is one of my favorite characters, but because of the darker tone of this novel, we see less of his charm than usual. Also, neither Toby nor Benedict makes an appearance, and the absence of Lily’s Grandmother is very much felt. I’m not sure that their presence is necessary to advance the story, but as a fan of the series I missed them.
Overall this is an outstanding addition to the series. I enjoyed the deepening relationship between Lily and Rule, and I thought that the anger and resentment Rule felt towards the lupi’s Lady because of Lily’s health was an interesting development in his character. If you’re a fan of werewolves in any form, I highly recommend Death Magic and the World of the Lupi.