Lily Yu and her mate, Rule Turner are completing the legal procedure to get Rule full custody of his son. It’d be nice if the could do it interrupted- but the looming politics of the press attention for the “lupi prince” and the complication of Rule now carrying the magical Mantle of the Leidolf clan despite them being his ancestral enemies
Then people start dying – and in the post-Turning world with wild magic and long gone creatures now emerging, this is far from a simple murder. And unsimple murders are now Lily’s job as an FBI Agent for the Magical Crime’s unit. Mystical serial killers have to take precedence to even the most important of family dramas
This book was a blessed relief to me. In the last 3 book reviews I have been immensely frustrated by how this series has expanded immensely quickly without nearly enough time to develop it. We started jumping dimensions, suddenly there were more supernatural creatures than we could shake a stick at and I have no idea what was happening and why. I love a big rich world, I really do – but this was too much too soon. It was like sitting down to an epic 4 course meal full of all your favourite food – them having someone dump all of it on one plate an expect you to eat it all at once.
So this book, while not removing what has come before, focuses much more closely. The dragons are out there, the huge magical take down of technology is still happening, the increase in magic and the gifted is all still there – but it’s a background to a story which is more local and lets us digest the world a bit more, what has changed and what these characters are without them disappearing to Hell or Edge or dealing with dragons or elves or demons or any other deluge of creatures.
We still have the mystery and a world changing – the Turning has still brought new magical beings and challenges and Lily’s entire job has vastly expanded to be part of the new FBI task force dealing with all the random magical chaos. But it’s much more digestible. For the first time in 3 books I feel I can catch my breath absorb this world without it pulling the rug out from under my feet and hitting me with some other massive world building overhaul.
I also have to say how much I lie how little of this world is known – characters are very willing to say “I don’t know”, which I like. We don’t know every aspect of our world – and their world has changed so much, how could everyone know how things are? Too often fictional worlds present everything as known and certain – rather than unknown and theorised
There’s also a return to my preferred protagonist – Lily and Rule as opposed to Cynna and Cullen. Lily, being a detective is much more focused and practical and just a lot more fun to me.
The story is a murder mystery, with Lily & co having to do some investigating and a lot of research in the face of the new possibilities that magic has brought. I love the contrast between sensible research and detective work and the wider world they have to work in that brings in so many more unknowns. Without needing to do all the recapping that clogged the last book it was also much better paced and I finished the book surprisingly quickly because of it.
And I like Lily, she is so practical in the face of the woo-woo. Brave without being reckless, intelligent and skilled without super-woo-woo. She’s sensible. She doesn’t take shit from people, but doesn’t pick fights and act hyper-aggressive as a way to “stand up for herself” as we often see. She’s confident and assured without being raging and out of control. She also has some nice personal conflicts with family, her relationship to Rule’s son and her uncomfortable reaction to and relationship with spirituality due to her family history (which was a nice additional bit of development). I like her a lot and always have. She’s just… so practical in a woo-woo setting.
I like how we have the depiction of how she works with the local police forces. We often see this battle played out – but it was nice to see that despite objections, despite battles and personality clashes, ultimately most people were sensible and we didn’t get almost comic infighting which is so sadly common. There were no caricatures – even people who opposed Lily because of her age or race or gender were not caricatures of awful – they were people with prejudiced views that were terrible and needed correcting (which Lily did, awesomely and firmly) without being over the top caricatures of awful. I appreciate that – because it is so easy to demonise the prejudiced to the point where they only resemble the most extreme of people – but most prejudice we face isn’t like that. Most of it is the every day microaggressions and “normal” people with terrible views and behaviours.
Rule brought all the personal conflict and it worked well with the main storyline – both linking with it and making a nice point that their lives go on even when dramatic things are happening. I like that especially as it teaches Lily the importance of delegation – because she does get to have a life as well.
And I like Rule’s story with his son, the custody battle as well as the continuing drama between him and the Liedolf clan (historical enemies of his clan that he now finds himself ruling). I like how, again, the enemies are not clearcut terribad wrong – they’re just another clan of people that has been in opposition to Rule’s own (this applies to most of the characters in this book except, perhaps, for the unfortunate example of the mother of his son who is pretty over the top awful – but even she has an excellent redemption moment). There’s a lot of really good interactions between Rule, Lily and Rule’s son Toby. I want to applaud their parenting skills because they’re pretty damn awesome. And through them we get to see a lot of Lupi culture which is really rich and involved.