Pros: Wonderful worldbuilding, delightful characters, and engaging plot
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Eileen Wilks’s Blood Lines (The World of the Lupi) is book three in the series, following Tempting Danger and Mortal Danger. I started the series at book five thanks to the vagaries of reviewing, and I loved the series enough to go back and pick up the first four books. In this volume, Lily and Rule end up chasing down a demonic presence that seems bent on killing a number of important lupi. Cynna, another Gifted FBI agent with whom Lily works, and Cullen, a powerful sorcerer and lupus, quickly get pulled into the plot as Cynna’s old mentor turns up in the middle of it all. Cullen and Cynna are caught between irritation with each other and attraction. The clan Leidolf–an old enemy of the clan to which Rule and Cullen belong, Nokolai–is trying to use the death of its heir as an opportunity to kill Rule. To make matters worse, Rule has been infected with demonic energy and Lily can feel it spreading throughout his body with her Gift.
I’m not quite sure how Wilks does it, but her world feels much more unique than those of many of her urban fantasy contemporaries. Maybe it’s the lack of vampires. Maybe it’s all in the details of the structure of lupus society, the nature of magic, and the seriousness of Lily’s job with the FBI. Simply the fact that the main character isn’t a glib, snarky young woman with as much attitude as aptitude makes a real difference. Combined with that, the less unique details (such as magic having returned to the modern world only recently) feel less common.
As usual with Wilks’s books, we find out a bit more about how everything works in each new volume. This time it’s sorcery and Cynna’s unusual use of power, as well as the backbone of lupus clan structure and the ways in which demons can interact with the living world. There’s plenty of scheming and backstabbing to keep the plot fascinating and the pacing varied. The characters are fantastic and multi-layered–I really enjoy watching Cullen and Cynna, two very individualistic people, trying to feel their way around what’s happening between them.
Generally I take notes while I read books that I plan to review, so I don’t forget all the little details that add up to fascinating patterns. In this case I was so swept up in events that I wrote down almost nothing. On the one hand that makes it tougher to go into a lot of detail in the review, but it also conveniently illustrates how thoroughly I was immersed in the events of Blood Lines.
As a final note, Blood Lines starts out with a “dear reader” introduction from Lily that would make it much easier for new readers to the series to get their bearings. I applaud that kind of thoughtfulness in an author, because making it easier for new readers to jump right in also increases the number of people who might enjoy the series enough to dig up the previous books, as I did.