Night Season (World of the Lupi #4) by Eileen Wilks

Night Season - Eileen Wilks
Cynna is a Finder, and a damn good one, able to find almost everything over a vast range. It’s a power that is high in desire – including by the Gnomish rulers of Edge, another realm that is now accessibleafter the magic flares.
The Realm is in danger – but the ambassadors from Edge are certainly not to be trusted and may have their own agenda.
On top of this, Cynna has to deal with her feelings on another matter – she’s pregnant, and the father is a sorcerer who is essential to their plan for Edge.
What I think is bothering me a little about this series is how out there we have suddenly been thrown. When the first book, Tempting Danger, in this series came along, we had Lily in San Diego, working with supernatural within the world, adapting, learning, revealing the world. Then in book 2, Mortal Danger, Lily is suddenly in a Hell dimension surrounded by demons and she’s split in 2 and it’s all kind of abruptly very new. Then book 3, Blood Lines we switched to Cynna and we’re up to our eyebrows in demons and alternate dimensions and magic waves and the whole world now under threat.
And now we’re travelling to Edge, a different dimension that resembled a high fantasy more than anything. And I kind of want to go back to Tempting Danger.
It’s not that I don’t like this direction of the books – but I need more time. I needed, maybe, 2 or 3 books between Tempting Danger before we reached Mortal Danger so I could spend some time getting to know Lily and werewolves and magic and Cynna – get to know the world before the whole world is dumped into a blender and mixed up so completely. I feel lost, I feel adrift – I needed more of a foundation before I was dragged off into these different world and fae and gnomes and magic and Ahk and whole new political systems. It’s not that this story was bad, by any stretch of the imagination – but I don’t know this world well enough to be read to have this many wrenches thrown into the works and I’m too adrift to keep running with it. I don’t know Cynna well enough for this. I don’t know the world, the magic, the entitles enough for this. Let me catch up!
Ok, the story… ok I was never actually bored reading it, I never wanted to stop and I never found it dull – but it’s a really basic quest story. Cynna, with her magic finding power, has to find the McGuffin (yes, I’m calling it that because it really is irrelevant what it is) which everyone else wants as well. So they head off. Occasionally they’re attacked, occasionally they batter from one person seeking McGuffin to the next, but it’s not really meaningful to our actual characters.

It’s not badly written, it’s not boring, it’s not poorly paced, but nor was it especially exciting with any real twists or deviations and the world it’s revealing through this is Edge – which is a different realm entirely so I’m not even that invested in the world building. The B plot is Cynna and Cullen’s love which, is nice and non-problematic… but also not especially complex or conflict laden (which isn’t a problem – a non-conflict laden romance is excellent) and doesn’t balance the very linear A plot.

Particularly since we follow Cynna. And I want to like Cynna, I really want to like her. She has a lot of interesting elements – she has a power that is not overblown but also useful. She’s capable, she’s intelligent. She has a complex background with a lot of class issues. She has her own non-conforming style, she’s still finding her feet but she is learning and growing, recognising her mistakes and trying to overcome.

But she rides this whole book with little agency. From the very minor – Lily rebuilding her wardrobe according to her bank balance and taste (and yes it’s well meaning and yes Lily is considered more fashionably able – but still it’s another choice Cynna isn’t making), through to the fact that everyone in Edge values her because of her super-special abilities; there’s very little of her own personality there – she’s a walking avatar of her power. She’s coerced from the very beginning – kidnap after kidnap and there’s never really a break away from that. And she’s not even really angry about that – which is especially wrong for a character who is repeatedly described as trapped and lashing out violently to burn off steam – she doesn’t seem especially angry about some of this coercion. None of the cast does – they don’t even demand any real sense of reparation. There’s one point where everyone is kind of concerned about one of the characters, Tash, a kidnapper and I just gape at the screen – why do they all care? Why are they invested in whether this character survives or is chopped into sushi?