Berkley / October 2, 2012 / $7.99 print & digital
FBI agent Lily Yu is living at Nokolai Clanhome with her fiancé, lupi Rule Turner, when an intruder penetrates their territory, stealing the prototpye of a magical device the clan hopes will be worth a fortune—if a few bugs can be worked out.
But the protoytpe can be dangerously erratic, discharging a bizarre form of mind magic—and it looks like the thief wants it for that very side effect. Worse, whoever stole the device didn’t learn about it by accident. There’s a Nokolai traitor in their midst.
Lily and Rule have to find the traitor, the thief, and the prototype. One job proves easy when the thief calls them—and his identity rocks Rule’s world.
As they race to recover their missing property, they find Robert Friar’s sticky footprints all over the place. Robert Friar—killer, madman, and acolyte of the Old One the lupi are at war with—an Old One whose power is almost as vast as her ambition to rock the entire world.
I’ve been a fan of Eileen Wilks’s Lupi series since the beginning, partly for the protagonist, Lily Yu, partly for the intricate worldbuilding. Also because of Lily’s grandmother—Grandmother is perhaps the coolest relative ever, and she has a nice role in the newest installment, Mortal Ties.
Though some of the books have a central romance, in general the series itself is an ongoing romance between Lily Yu and Rule Turner, who is Lupus (essentially, a werewolf whose abilities are passed down genetically). Lily and Rule face new challenges in each book, some internal and some external, each one building upon the last, with the implications playing out over a long period. For that reason, I really think it’s best to read this series in order; but that said, there’s enough internal information in Mortal Ties that a reader new to the series ought to be able to follow along without confusion.
I had a difficult time choosing a favorite aspect of this novel, because I liked so much about it. But I finally settled on the ghost, which is emblematic of the surprises I love in this series. In the previous book in the series, an FBI agent is killed. Later, his ghost appears. In this book, the ghost is convinced he needs to help Lily, or at least he’s pretending to think that…I won’t spoil you with a definitive answer.
I loved the way Wilks took the idea of having a ghost in the story and ran with it. I loved the way various aspects of the supernatural elements were thought out, and then tied in to the characterizations. The ghost has his own goals!
“Listen, I think I know what I’m supposed to do. Why I didn’t just die or go to hell or whatever.” His eyes burned with intensity. “I’m supposed to be your partner.”
…A coherent ghost seemed to be the whole person. He or she remained aware of the living world, seemed to perceive it through the same senses as the living, and used language the way the living do. Coherent ghosts were like the rest in one way, however. They were tied to something—a place or an object or, very rarely, a person. How had Lily gotten so lucky?
..“It bothers me, that’s all. You and [the ghost] seem to be getting downright chummy.”
Disconcerted, she swallowed her first retort. “You’re jealous...”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
Someone here was being ridiculous. She didn’t think it was her. “I don’t even like him, Rule.”
“You never wear the necklace. You could keep him away, and you don’t. It’s not a matter of him being potentially useful. There’s something else going on. I don’t understand.”
“I don’t know if I do, either, except that he has nothing. Literally nothing and no one, not even a body. It’s not just that he can’t move so much as a paper clip. He can’t touch the paper clip. When I make it so he can’t manifest, he can’t even see it.”
“You feel sorry for him.”
Yeah, she did, and that was kind of weird, considering what [the ghost] had done. But it wasn’t the whole story. “Maybe it’s some random roll of the dice that got him tied to me. Maybe there’s actually someone in charge who did this on purpose. I don’t know, but either way, it’s up to me to do the right thing. I’m not sure what that is, but making it so he can’t see the damn paper clip can’t be right.”
I can’t recommend this series highly enough, especially if you like deep, coherent worldbuilding and convincing romantic relationships. And an excellent ghost, just in time for Halloween.
Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories. Her World War One-set Spice Brief is titled “Under Her Uniform” and is a tie-in to her novel The Moonlight Mistress. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.