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Sunday, September 27, 2009

'World of the Lupi' series by Eileen WILKS



From the BLURB:

Lily Yu is a San Diego police detective investigating a series of grisly murders that appear to be the work of a werewolf. To hunt down the killer, she must infiltrate the clans. Only one man can help her--a were named Rule Turner, a prince of the lupi, whose charismatic presence disturbs Lily. Rule has his own reasons for helping the investigation--reasons he doesn't want to share with Lily. Logic and honor demand she keep her distance, but the attraction between them is immediate and devastating-and beyond human reason. Now, in a race to fend off evil, Lily finds herself in uncharted territory, tested as never before, and at her back a man who she's not sure she can trust ....

This series was created in a very round-about kind of way. Before ‘World of the Lupi’, Wilks was a silhouette writer of romance fiction (titles such as ‘The Virgin & the Outlaw’). Then she had a short story published in the 2003 anthology ‘Lover Beware’. The short story was called ‘Only Human’, and is pretty much a condensed version of the full-length first Lupi book, ‘Tempting Danger’. The short story was picked up and turned into a series which currently has 5 books with a 6th due for release in February next year.

From the urban fantasy blogs and chatboards I browse, I’m always surprised to find out that nobody seems aware of this series. ‘World of the Lupi’ has all the ingredients for great urban fantasy / paranormal romance. A ballsy female protagonist and protective Alpha werewolf are thrown together to solve a series of murders that point to said werewolf being the main suspect. It’s a great plot, and Eileen Wilks does an amazing job of combining both a detective mystery and simmering romance. Lily is a fascinating female lead; she’s a strong-willed detective who is firmly grounded by her Chinese ancestry, particularly her familial commitments. Lily’s dual personalities of dutiful daughter and hard-nosed detective make for a fascinating character who experiences huge life changes while remaining true to her core.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this series is the unique werewolf mythology Wilks has built upon. These are werewolves like you’ve never read them before. In the Lupi universe, humans and werewolves co-exist, and werewolves are all male. There are no female werewolves, only male children have the ability to shift. In this world, werewolves are subject to the full spectrum of human opinion. There are those who think their animalistic, commitment-phobic, highly sexed culture is barbaric and detestable. Then there are those wolf groupies who treat them like rock-stars (totally understandable). For these women the ultimate werewolf pin-up is Rule Turner, son to the San Diego pack Alpha. He is not actually a ‘prince’ (as the media label him), but he is the handsome poster boy for the werewolf culture, and his being tangled in a murder investigation could be devastating for werewolves everywhere.

I also love this series because in this world, some humans are born with unique supernatural gifts. Lily, for instance, has the ability to ‘feel’ magic. That is, she associates certain supernaturals with different textures; around Rule, she feels fur against her skin. I love that Wilks has created a world with ‘grey’ areas; it’s not clean-cut ‘us’ and ‘them’ between humans and werewolves, but rather different degrees of paranormal. This makes for interesting self-reflection on Lily’s part when she considers the way Rule and other werewolves are unfairly labeled and demonized, compared to her and others with varying degrees of magic.

My one complaint in this series is book #4, ‘Night Season’, when Wilks deviates slightly and makes two minor characters the main characters for one book. It’s a little bit jarring to have a break in narrative and I never warmed to the female character, Cynna, and slightly resented having to read her POV. What makes it worse is that Lily and Rule feature in the book and quite a few plot changes affect the rest of the series, so you can’t even skip reading it.

I love this series. Lily and Rule are one of my all-time favorite paranormal couples. Knowing how underrated the books are, I feel the need to spread the word…. So, consider it spread!

4.5/5


5 comments:

  1. I've already looked into this series because of your last post but wasn't sure. This review clinches it for me - looks like this series has everything I like. Will be adding to my TBR. Thanks - I'm always looking for something new!

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  2. its so true, this series is never really mentioned in any forums and it really is a damn pity. I love these books and Im looking foward to the 6th

    I liked the short story of Cynna's wedding... it was cute :)

    btw, speaking of werewolves, do you know the "Crimson Moon" series by L.A. Banks? She wrote the Vampire Huntress Legend series (Im at the 4th book in that one).

    Im starting book 2 now and its pretty good. It also has a couple new takes on the Werewolf angle... check it out :)

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  3. Larissa - I know! 'World of the Lupi' never gets a mention, but it's the quintessential Urban Fantasy. At least someone else out there appreciates!

    I tried reading the first book of Banks's 'Night Huntress' series, but didn't really get into it. She has such a unique rhythm when she writers, and I found it a little hard to get into. But I can't resist a good werewolf book, so I'll check out her 'Crimson Moon' series. Thanks!

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  4. I totally agree that Banks has a not so accessible language thing going on, That's why I had to take a break though I do like the characters.

    I found the Crimson Moon series much better in that aspect. Let me know what you think :)

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  5. I'm Katie, Eileen's daughter and webmaster, and I have a terrible time trying to get the word out on discussion boards about the World of the Lupi. It's such a great series, and because it's housed only in the Romance section I think a ton of people never pick it up.

    Thanks for the glowing review! Hopefully more forum posts like this will keep popping up. :)

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