DEATH MAGIC opens with Special Agent Lily Yu in Washington, D.C. with her fiancé--lupi prince Rule Turner—to testify before a Senate subcommittee about her role in the magical collapse of a mountain last month. She is not there to tell them about the strange legacy she carries from that event—or about the arcane bond between her and Rule--or what her boss in Unit Twleve of the FBI’s Magical Crimes Division is really up to. She sure won’t tell them that the lupi are at war with an Old One who wants to remake humanity in her own image.
Lily is managing the conflict between her duty as an officer of the law and the need for secrecy pretty well . . . until the rabidly anti-magic senator who chairs that committee is murdered. The line between right and wrong, always so clear to her, becomes hopelessly blurred as events catapult them all towards disaster, and prophecies of a cataclysmic end to the country she loves and serves--and to the entire race of lupi--seem well on their way to being fulfilled.
It’s a bad time to be Supernatural. The ‘Humans First’ campaign is gaining momentum and questionable support. Lily’s boss, Ruben Brooks has already come under attack and now his failing health has shook up the Supernatural underground . . . there’s a unit being formed – The Shadow Unit. Many of Lily’s nearest and dearest are already members, joined in order to protect their families and loved ones. And now they want Lily to join – even though it goes against everything she stands for as a police officer.
But when the Great unnamed Bitch’s campaign gains momentum with Death Magic, Lily may have little choice in the matter of joining.
‘Death Magic’ is the eighth book in Eileen Wilks’s incredible ‘World of the Lupi’ series.
Eileen Wilks has already cemented her place on my soon-to-be-released 2011 Favourites list with her seventh novel ‘Blood Challenge’. I absolutely adored that book earlier this year, and was beside myself with excitement when I realized that in 2011 we’d be treated to a double-whammy of Lupi with ‘Death Magic’. Unfortunately, for me at least, there’s no competition and very little comparison between ‘Blood Challenge’ and ‘Death Magic’. One had my heart-pumping; the other left me a little cold . . .
The main reason I absolutely adored ‘Blood Challenge’ was the shifted character focus – when Rule’s previously secondary-character brother, Benedict, moved into the spotlight with his own love interest. A good portion of ‘Blood Challenge’ (while continuing the drama with the Great Bitch) was also focused on Benedict’s second mating with the beautiful Arjenie Fox. These two were fantastic – Arjenie’s adorable mile-a-minute thought processes, wild curls and sweet disposition coupled with Benedict’s icy demeanour, past heartbreak and burning passion. Arjenie and Benedict rocked my socks off – and I knew that it would be hard for Eileen Wilks to follow their story . . .
Arjenie and Benedict got the full love-story treatment and their very own sweeping saga. It was pretty hard not to fall in lust with Benedict, and holler-out for his sparking love story with the adorable Arjenie! Now in ‘Death Magic’ Eileen Wilks is switching gears and getting readers re-attuned to Lily and Rule. And, by comparison to Arjenie and Benedict, Lily and Rule are pretty ho-hum (even a little chilly?).
Fans know that when ‘World of the Lupi’ started out, Rule was very comfortable in his role as Lupi Prince; reaping the female benefits of his stardom and living life as all good Lupi do – lustfully. Lily, by contrast, comes from a strict Chinese upbringing and coupled with her stoic cop-demeanour she was much more reclusive and up-tight than Lothario Rule Turner. When she and Rule were fatefully ‘mated’ and chosen for one another by the Lady, it rocked both of their worlds. It has taken a long time for Lily to believe that Rule considers their mating a gift, and not an albatross around his neck. Likewise, Rule has taken a while to appreciate what Lily had to give up in order to be with him. Lily and Rule really are one of the best paranormal romance couples – bought together by fate, remaining for love.
Things reached a fever-pitch in their relationship when Rule broke taboos and proposed to Lily back in book five, ‘Mortals Sins’. But that was book five . . . we’re now into book eight and Lily is only just now becoming comfortable with even discussing plans for the wedding. Her cold-feet are now more chilled than icicled and both she and Rule still tend to walk on egg-shells with one another, and keep a lot of what they want to say bitten on their tongues.
It’s frustrating, to say the least. Especially when fans had Arjenie and Benedict to help highlight exactly just how much Rule and Lily have gone from burn to simmer by contrast.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am still a HUGE Rule & Lily fan (Rule’s proposal at the end of ‘Mortals Sins’ gets me every time!). But we’re eight books in now, and I want a little more open loving between them. I’m not afraid to say it – yes, I want more sex scenes. I want more proof that their love burns just as strong and fierce as it did back in ‘Tempting Danger’. But to believe that I need to read more skin, more intimate scenes that reveal that even if Lily is anti-PDA in public, she and Rule can still burn up the sheets behind closed doors.
Unfortunately in ‘Death Magic’, we don’t really get much sense of Lily and Rule’s fated love. There is a LOT of drama going on with the Great Bitch and new Shadow Unit. Big and exciting things are happening with Ruben (seriously, jaw-dropping, fist-pumping stuff!) and lots of curve-balls are thrown Lily’s way. So much is going on – explosions and battles, magic and ghosts that Lily and Rule really do get lost amongst the hubbub. It seems like, in this book at least, Wilks sacrificed a lot of character-development and intimacy for plot-momentum. When, really and ideally, I would have preferred a focus on Lily and Rule. I mean, the guy proposed back in book #5 and the wedding is still not even on the distant horizon for readers! C’mon!
There are a very few tender Lily and Rule scenes in ‘Death Magic’. And, not surprisingly, those are the moments that stood out and connected for me:
“You don’t know who you are if you aren’t first a cop. I knew that, but I didn’t..." He sifted her hair with his fingers as if he might find words there. “I didn’t understand in my gut. Now I do. I learned that I’m not . . . I’m no longer the Lady’s first. I still serve her, but she’s not first. If I must choose between you and her –”
“Don’t. Don’t try to choose.”
He placed his hand over hers. “Too late. I already have.”
I maintain that ‘World of the Lupi’ is one of the best urban fantasies out there. Eileen Wilks is unparalleled in her paranormal world-building and twisting characters. When she wants to, she writes romance that leaves readers pink in the cheeks and breathless for more (hello Benedict & Arjenie!). But I really missed her character connectedness in ‘Death Magic’. At this point in the series, eight books deep, I need to read more mushy stuff between one of my all-time favourite book couples, Lily and Rule. I've had my fingers crossed for their wedding since ‘Mortal Sins’, and I am building high-hopes that all their pent-up lust and walking-on-eggshells frustrations will be unleashed when they say “I do”.
To be fair, I did enjoy ‘Death Magic’ towards the end when Eileen Wilks takes the plot on a helter-skelter rollercoaster ride to an explosive finish. But it doesn’t change the fact that no matter how much I enjoyed the plot, I need more intimate character moments to balance it out.