Book Review: Eileen Wilks’ Ritual Magic

Posted October 26, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Eileen Wilks’ Ritual Magic

Ritual Magic


Eileen Wilks

urban fantasy that was published by Berkley on September 3, 2013 and has 409 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Midnight Promises, Death Magic, Tied with a Bow, Mortal Ties, Unbinding, Mind Magic, Dragon Spawn,

Tenth in the World of the Lupi urban fantasy series revolving around Lily Yu and Rule Turner. Based in San Diego, it takes place three months after Mortal Ties, 9.

My Take

It’s a mystery right off the bat as a little girl becomes dazed and confused at the restaurant. A confusion that simply becomes more and more horrifying with each step deeper into the story as Sam learns more and more about what afflicts all those affected by the, well, the virus is all I can think to call it. It’s the Twilight Zone in text with the threat of being torn out of time looming over everyone.

What’s with this “mysterious” stranger and the encounter that happens well before the inciting incident in which it is supposed to have occurred? I suspect it’s meant to confuse and keep us in suspense, and it certainly does just that. Just not for the right reasons.

I think part of my problem with the story is that Wilks creates some awesomely terrifying issues…that get solved too easily. And Lily is acting so stupidly. Sure someone she’s close to may never come back, but Wilks simply isn’t convincing enough with Lily’s traumas about the victims AND with how she is reacting to Rule. Nor was Wilks scary enough about Daffyd.

Wilks does use events to provide us, beautifully I might add, with background information on the lupi origins while the extra side bits that we learn about lupi love are so sweet. I do wonder if Toby’s actions with Julia are part of that need to care for others?

I don’t think I’ve read a novel which has been as intent on informing the reader quite so carefully about how Rule’s bodyguards work. It’s useful information, but not what I’ve come to expect from Wilks.

I do wish Wilks had made the connection more clear about why it’s so important that Rule not follow through on his intentions regarding Santos. Instead, it’s simply poked at and used. I think it could have been better, more tense. As could the attacks have been more terrifying. The one at the office was scary, but I didn’t feel the fright with the others. Nor did the losses bother me. Well, I prefer not to cry, but that is when I know the author has hit it.

Wilks does use this “plague” well. The effects and consequences are terrifying and my imagination went wild. Again, however, the ending was too neat and easy. Even if Wilks is leaving us on edge about the president’s announcement.

Character-wise, I do adore Grandmother. I suspect she’d scare me to death if I ever met her for real, but she does cut to the chase. I loved how Lily “forced” Plackett to finally step up. What does it say about me that I love that Rule is so involved in the wedding plans? Is it possible that young Julia (it was so easy for me to see Julia as a twelve-year old. I’m not sure if it’s a testament to Wilks’ writing or ???) is so comfortable with Rule because they’ve spent so much time together?

Please tell me that Lily is being sarcastic about how bad the Leidolf guards are at numbers…

Weird stuff about Drummond’s new “existence”; it’s oddly woo-woo for this gruff, cynical FBI agent.

I did crack up over the police’s reactions to having Rule and his men Change at the crime scene. And Wilks’ solution to the “enchantment” is brilliant.

I did enjoy it, and it is a hot mess with new angles and more threats as Wilks pulls in the Fae and Robert Friar keeps pushin’ those buttons.

The Story

Lily Yu is counting down the days before she marries Rule. Little does she know how much she’ll regret the swift passage of time as her mother battles for her very sanity.

Speaking of sanity, she and Rule have bought a house. With holes in the walls, a basement in need of reinforcement, and worse, no escape tunnels! Luckily for Toby and Julia, the Leidolf guards have been working on this.

Huh, and y’all thought video games had no value. You’ll change your mind when you see how practice pays off for everyone, well, until Friar shows up, wanting to make a deal.

The Characters

Special Agent Lily Yu, a touch sensitive who is also a part of both Units, is engaged to Rule, and the wedding is coming up. She still has Dirty Harry, her cat. Julia Lin is Lily’s very precise mother joyfully planning Lily’s wedding with Rule, until she turns 12; Edward is her non-demonstrative and angry father.

Rule Turner, a lupus, is the gorgeous Rho for Clan Leidolf and Lo Nuncio for Clan Nokolai, only, events in Mortal Ties have forced Rule off Nokolai land. He’s also the second-in-command for the Shadow Unit. Toby is Rule’s son. Jasper is the brother we met in Mortal Ties. Benedict is in charge of Nokolai security and is Rule’s older half brother married to Arjenie Fox, a half Fae. Dr. Nettie Two Horses is his daughter. Isen Turner is Rule and Benedict’s father and the Rho of Clan Nokolai. Carl is Isen’s houseman, and it’s led to Lily’s nickname for anyone who helps in the kitchen as the Kitchen Carls.

Cullen Seaborne is a sorcerer and a lupus — an extremely rare combination. He’s also gorgeous — an 11 on the 1-to-10 scale. He’s married to former FBI agent Cynna, the new Rhej for Clan Nokolai, who is a Finder. They have a baby girl, Ryder.

Rule’s bodyguards include: Barnaby, who has an excellent nose even when two-legged; Jacob; Todd; Eric; and, Mike. I think Miles and Jonathan must be Cynna’s guards.

Know-it-all Santos, Joe, and Andy, who screws up but learns from it, and they hope it’s not too late, are the Leidolf guards for Lily—Scott, Rule’s second-in-command, and Mark are her initial bodyguards, oops, I mean, mobile backup. José, Casey, and Steve are Nokolai guards.

Pete is in charge of Isen’s bodyguard detail. Cory and Gene are the guards at the gate to Clanhome. Bill and Tommy are part of Benedict’s detail. Andor Demeny is Rho for Clan Szós and a guest at the wedding; Lucas is his Lo Nuncio.

More of the Yu relatives
Grandmother, Li Lei Yu, a.k.a., Madame Yu, is Edward’s mother; Li Qin is Grandmother’s companion. Freddie, a cousin, has recently come out of the closet; he’s also working with Rule to improve Leidolf’s financial situation. Uncle Chen Lin owns the Golden Dragon restaurant. Aunt Jei is actually Lily’s second cousin and Freddie’s “long-suffering” mother. Paul Wong is a brother-in-law; married to Susan, the dermatologist sister. Beth is the youngest sister and living in San Francisco. She’s dating Sean Friar, Robert’s younger brother. Aunt Deborah will collapse at the drop of a hat; she’s married to Feng Li Zhang. Aunt Mequi, Julia’s sister, isn’t much better; she’s married to Jim Chung. Grandfather Lin, Julia’s father, is mentioned. Jin Zimmerman is a distant relative and a nurse.

The police and Unit people working with Lily
Special Agent Derwin “the Big A” Ackleford is regular FBI and rude, crude, and excellent at his job. And no, “Big A” does not stand for “Ackleford”. Rickie Parker works with him. Officer Ramon Perez and Lieutenant Thomas “T.J.” James are the kind of cops we want. Detective Erskine is a cop who needs to retire, find another line of work, the type for stupidheads, and we never do learn about Officer Daryl Crown.

Special Agent Abel Karonski will be in charge; Margarita is his open-minded wife. Ruben Brooks is Lily’s boss and in charge of Unit Twelve and the Shadow Unit and he’s an off-the-charts precog. Ida is Ruben’s secretary. Al Drummond is an FBI agent who died; his current assignment is helping Lily. Fielding of the California tunes on the iPod is desperately anxious to see magic performed.

Miriam Faircastle is a Wiccan high priestess. Jack Weysmith is Water-Gifted, Gail, Warren, and Abby Farmer, an Earth witch, are part of the coven. Sun Mzao, a.k.a., Sam is a black dragon who has made California part of his territory; he has a relationship with Grandmother.

Dr. Babbitt is the psychiatrist. Dr. John L. Plackett is what we need fewer of in the world. Julia Lin is far from the only victim in this. Hardy is a homeless man, a saint, who only communicates through music. Ryan and Patrick are the kids who found the first body. Alan Debrett is/was a former classmate, and he has a daughter, Mary, with Down’s Syndrome. Milly Rodriquez is a too persistent reporter. Dr. Sengupta is Nettie’s surgeon. Angela Ward is an old-time movie star; millions have seen her films.

The Winter Queen of the Fae is involved and will send her Hound, a wild Sidhe, a hellhound: Nathan Hunter. Kai Tallman Michalski is a mind healer. Nam Anthessa is a named Fae artifact and highly dangerous due to its sentience. The former demon, Gam, is now female and growing wealthy in her position as the chancellor in Edge.

F’annwylyd is her new name, given to her by Dyffaya áv Eni, a.k.a., Daffyd, an exiled Sidhe god.

Robert Friar got the major upgrade from the Great Bitch: he heals fast, is clairaudient, and is an off-the-charts patterner. He was in cahoots with Benessarai in Mortal Ties and got a nasty (for us) pay-off. Armand Jones is Friar’s West Coast lieutenant in Humans First. The Great Bitch is an Old One and is how the lupi refer to their Great Enemy, who wants to take over our world. Dworg are horrific monsters; thank god they’re extinct.

Unit Twelve is a part of the FBI and supersedes FBI when it comes to supernatural matters; Shadow Unit is undercover and tasked with battling the Great Bitch anyway it has to and takes precedence over Unit Twelve. The Lady is an Old One and GB’s enemy. She created the lupi to battle her. Arguai is a complex sort of magic, blending spirit with magic.

The Cover and Title

The cover is green and black with a neon charge of green outlining the knife which is point down in the ground and surrounded by arcane circles. It’s Lily, all in black with her black hair flowing down her back, a black leather halter top (soooo, the illustrator didn’t read the story, has no clue about Lily) as she kneels, legs spread, studying the glowing knife.

The title is too true as it is Ritual Magic threatening the fabric of our world.


2 responses to “Book Review: Eileen Wilks’ Ritual Magic

    • I do enjoy Wilks’ World of the Lupi series, although I think the earlier books were better in terms of Lily and Rule’s relationship.