RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Death Magic by Eileen Wilks

B-

Title: Death Magic
Author: Eileen Wilks
Publication Info: Berkley 2011
ISBN: 978-0425245125
Genre: Paranormal

Death Magic This review was written by Marguerite. This story was nominated in the Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category.

The summary:     

Recovering from an attempt on his life by an FBI traitor, Lily Yu's boss forms a ghost unity that will operate in secret-and outside the law. Lily's conscience won't let her join. Her fiancé, lupi Rule Turner, has no such reservations. But when a senator is killed, Lily's decision becomes a matter of life and death-and all the magic in between.

And here is Marguerite's review:

I was excited to read this book. I love Urban Fantasy with romantic elements and most especially, I love me some shapeshifters like I love coffee and chocolate. I’ve never been down with Team Vampire, but give me some werewolves? I’m so there. I’d been meaning to try this series because hello, werewolves? This seemed like the perfect opportunity. Sure, there were some previous novels, but I was game to try. Previous novels. As in, this is book eight. BOOK EIGHT. Yeah, not a good idea.

Okay, first the official description: Recovering from an attempt on his life by an FBI traitor, Lily Yu's boss forms a ghost unity that will operate in secret-and outside the law. Lily's conscience won't let her join. Her fiancé, lupi Rule Turner, has no such reservations. But when a senator is killed, Lily's decision becomes a matter of life and death-and all the magic in between.

This is touted as the World of the Lupi series. Maybe it started that way, but now it’s more like World of All Things Paranormal. I was a little sad because I was promised hot, delicious werewolves, but instead I got paranormal soup. This book has a bit of everything. Werewolves, sorcerers, Gifted, ghosts, good magic, bad magic, healing magic, death magic and brownies–not the fudgey kind, but the thieving kind. The brownies are actually very important to the story and one of the elements I liked. I’m not sure about the dragons, but yeah. This book had dragons too. And telepathy.

Anyway, back to the plot. Supernatural critters are living out in the open and not everyone likes this. There is a group called Humans First and I guess the name says it all. They hate all things woo woo and are planning huge anti-magical demonstrations. FBI agent Lily Yu and her fiancé Rule are in Washington DC to testify before a senator with close ties to Humans First. Things go bad when the senator is killed and all the witnesses identify Lily’s boss as the killer. Lily is suffering from a mysterious ailment that may be related to some previous stuff that happened in another book. Did I mention this was the EIGHTH BOOK IN THE SERIES?

There are larger forces at play here and bigger stakes. Overarching this series is conflict with someone the lupi call the Lady, who represents Good Woo Woo and the Great Bitch, who represents Bad Woo Woo. It’s more complicated than that, but if I need to explain it to you, STOP. Stop and go back to the first book. Right now. That isn’t an order, more like a friendly suggestion because there are times I was really lost. I could tell stuff was going on but there were lots of characters from previous books and lots of confusing terminology. I knew certain words were important because they had Capital Letters to Clue Me In. But you know how in first books the author spends time easing you into a world, letting you learn to love the characters and get to know them? By the eighth book, they don’t do this so much because only an idiot picks up the EIGHTH BOOK IN A SERIES to read first.

The author actually does a pretty good job setting up her world. I followed the story and remained engaged in the events. I could tell early on that this book was more of a bridge to her overarching story and less of a stand alone, but it had enough twists and turns to interest me. One thing that frustrated me was a tendency to abrupt scene endings, like before things were really done. Also, some scenes were just summarized. We don’t see them. We get told “I went here and talked to Blah Blah and she said blah blah blah.” Not a fan of that. I’m also not big on paranormal soup. I like my worlds a bit more focused than that. I’m undecided about picking up the first book in the series. I would like to go back and see how Lily and Rule first got together. There isn’t a lot of romance here, but I’m told earlier books are mushier. I like mushy. Mushy is good.

I suspect that fans of the series who are already invested in the characters and the World of Lupi (Plus Other Stuff) will enjoy this installment as it clearly furthers the big story. But for the love of all things good and decent in the world, if you haven’t read the other books, don’t start with the EIGHTH BOOK IN THE SERIES. Learn from my fail.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ren says:

    Read the first one. The first was very Eve-and-Roarke-if-Roarke-was-a-werewolf. I petered out around Book 5 or 6 because I like focus and this series is all over the place with its random protagonist choices and kitchen-sink worldbuilding and its milk-it-til-the-tit-falls-off neverending series status, but the first one is on my keeper shelf.

  2. 2
    Patrice says:

    Yah this series grew on me and it’s now one of my favorites. I can’t imagine trying to pick it up at Death Magic. I think I originally found the 3rd one at the library, when there were 6 out, then glommed through the rest from 2-6. Maybe that helped me enjoy it, I didn’t have to wait for the next installments at that point. Interestingly I think some fans wanted Lily to get back to her FBI investigating so maybe Ms Wilks took that into concideration for this book. I do think it was a “big picture” bridge book in the series. I think the world, characters and different paranormal beings all make much more sense in the overall plot arch. It makes sense to me if magic is leaking into the world, at varying degrees depending on sort of volcanic shifts, that different realms and new “things” or impacts would pop up as the main characters move along from book to book in the series. This seems to be a worldbuilding device in several UF series, but I like Ms Wilks spin on it. I don’t mind having different characters be the protagonists as long as she comes back to Lily and Rule, and she does. And I really like Lily, Rule, Tanner, Grandmother, Bennedict, Arjenie, Cyn, Cullen and the rest of the crew. (and I do not recall character names from the book I finished yesterday, if that tells you anything lol) In fact I want to go back and reread Benendict’s story if I can just remember which one it was. lol I recently found book one (I think it was reissued) and liked it very much. It also revealed a Big Secret I had been surprised to find out about Lily’s grandmother when I read book 5 (or 6?). So I guess it wasn’t really a big secret after all! Another hazard of picking up a series out of order. lol Anyway, good review! I agree with a lot of your comments. TY

  3. 3
    JenM says:

    I just had to comment on this review. This is one of my favorite series, but luckily for me, I started at the beginning. I happened to pick up the first book at random at a UBS and was immediately hooked. It doesn’t hurt that I love all things shifter either LOL. I’m working my way through the series slowly as these books are like a cherished treat to me. The worldbuilding is quite dense and Wilks doesn’t do a ton of recapping so I’m not surprised that you were lost. Some series, especially if they are PNR that follow a different couple in each book, can be picked up in the middle, but I’ve found that UF in general really needs to be started at the first couple of books to get the most enjoyment out of them.

  4. 4
    Marguerite says:

    Yeah, I knew Death Magic was part of a series, I just didn’t realize how far into the series this was. Y’all have motivated me though. I’m going to pick up the first book. Here’s hoping for some good werewolf lovin’ there.

  5. 5
    kkw says:

    I read the first one.  It was boring, but not *terrible* so I read another one, but it was less good, and I intended to give up on the series, but wound up reading another because I forgot the magnitude of the boredom.
    There is the paranormal soup problem, the info-dump problem, the lousy world-building problem, plus the huge cast of characters that I never cared about in the first place and are still contributing nothing to the action problem…
    You’ve done your time.

  6. 6
    Randi says:

    For what it’s worth, I’ve got UF burnout but this is still an autobuy series for me. Wilks, Ilona Andrews and Kelly Armstrong are the only 3 UF series I can still stand.

    I like that Wilks doesn’t do a lot of re-capping during the series. From my perspective, re-capping takes up vital word space that could otherwise be used for plotting. But I ALWAYS start a series with the first book-I think I’m physically unable to read a series out of order! Also,I tend to like a series that have multiple character viewpoints rather than sticking with the same character, but that’s just my taste. I know a lot of people who find that annoying.

    Give the first book a try and see what happens. If you end up not liking it, no harm no foul.

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