Pros: Interesting new stakes and threat
Cons: Later on in the book I would have liked to see a little more of Julia
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Ritual Magic is book ten in Eileen Wilks’s “World of the Lupi”. It’s an urban fantasy in which the main character is a human, Chinese FBI agent with magic sensitivity. Lily is a refreshing change of pace from the ubiquitous sarcastic 20-something UF heroine. Rule, her lupine ‘mate’, is also a nice change from the usual swaggering machismo of many male UF heroes; he has a smooth demeanor, can be very charming, and cares very much for Lily and her sometimes-surprising family.
In Ritual Magic, Lily and Rule’s wedding is coming up very soon. Lily’s mother, Julia, has been working hand-in-hand with Rule to arrange the whole thing. At a family dinner, Julia loses most of her memories–she believes she’s 12 years old, and waking up in the body of an adult among people she’s never met has (understandably) sent her over the edge. Luckily grandmother’s friend Sam (a dragon) is willing to do what he can to stabilize Julia’s mind. Otherwise she might go the way of some other recent victims and slip into a coma from which she’ll never return.
Julia’s memory loss happened extremely suddenly, leaving Lily with few leads to follow. She’s a sharp woman, however, and with some help from a ghost, a dragon, her own sense of magic, the lupi, and the FBI (I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone in there) she gradually puts together an idea of what’s going on. Meanwhile terrible creatures are summoned to go after Lily, some old enemies return, and it starts to look like poor Julia might forever be a 12-year-old in an adult’s body. Watching Julia try to deal after her mind was stabilized–especially as she ends up hanging out with Rule’s son, is fascinating. It’s handled extremely well. My only tiny complaint is that I would have liked to see a little more from her point of view during the climax of the novel.
There’s plenty of fascinating material in Ritual Magic. This is a tough mystery to crack, and there’s a lot of danger all around. There’s also a new and interesting bad guy that forces Lily and Rule to turn temporarily away from worrying about a major enemy. And after nine books gradually leading up to a wedding, Lily and Rule aren’t willing to back down in book ten, even though danger erupts all over the place.
As usual Wilks’s characters have depth and interest, and manage to break many cliches of the modern urban fantasy. Lily and Rule are fantastic protagonists. I love that while there have been other romantic relationships that have formed in the series, it isn’t the modern standard one-couple-per-installment, and the relationships themselves have plenty of variety to them. The mysterious bad guy and his relationship with his latest follower definitely kick things up a notch, and force Lily and her family and friends to dig deep in order to saved the world and people they love. Lily also has to face some interesting moral quandaries of her own, regarding when it’s okay to kill in the pursuit of her goals.