REVIEW: Derivation (Aberrant Magic, #2) by Lyn Gala
Darren and Kavon have committed to each other, but magical rules are changing and that tests the strength of their bond. The death of a prominent Egyptian shaman and the shadowy remains of O’Brien’s conspiracy to kill adepts and steal their magic also pressure the new couple. Kavon is determined to protect his partner through these storms, but he is also painfully aware of his own tendency to hover. And as Darren is quick to point out, he is an armed federal agent who won’t allow Kavon to keep him off the front lines.
Making the relationship even more difficult, the spirit guides who offered their loyalty have their own hopes and needs. The world is changing, and Darren’s spirit guide pushes them to find the right path to navigate. However, Kavon has never enjoyed being pressured, and he is particularly uncomfortable walking into a situation he doesn’t understand. Worse, the longer he knows Darren and his guide, the more confused Kavon becomes about how magic even works. The two men must pull together or the forces moving in the shadows threaten to destroy them before they have any chance at happiness.
Dear Lyn Gala, I reviewed the first book in this series here, and I really appreciate the fact that the second book came so soon and the third one is apparently coming at the end of August. At the end of first book we left Darren and Kavon newly bonded and continuing to figure out Darren’s new powers and how the bond increased both of their powers. There was also a “small” matter of Darren’s spirit guide (or as Darren called him – spirit partner) being way more powerful than any spirit guide known so far. And there was a serial killer shaman O’ Brien on the loose. You can imagine that as the book starts Darren, Kavon and their whole team have their hands full. And very soon they have their hands fuller.
In the beginning of the book the team is dealing with a human trafficking case, but Darren and Kavon are pulled from it by the powers that be because there is a murder in the Egyptian Embassy and the Egyptians want them to investigate. But when the guys arrive it is clear that not everybody wants them there, not really. There is a Shamanic Council whose members had apparently invited some Egyptian Shamans to come over in the first place, and this Council is interested in the investigation too. It is clear that Shamans and other magic users may have a particular interest in the two bonded Shamans and their guides, which does not sit well with Kavon and Darren. Almost everybody has secrets and our guys have to navigate their relationship, stay alive and try to investigate the cases too.
First of all, let me just say that I absolutely loved the combination of the development of the relationship amongst all the action, to me it was almost perfect. These two men are not without their flaws – one knows he has a tendency to be overprotective of Darren and his whole team, that he can be kind of a pushy jerk, best intentions or not, and the other knows that he has a tendency to rush into things. Considering that Darren just acquired lots of powers and a spirit guide, rushing may not be the best idea even if his guide can help a lot and often. However, flaws and all, these guys to me acted the way adults would act. They actually communicated instead of, you know, not communicating and then breaking up, and I appreciated that. I mean, wouldn’t you value a relationship which youhad wanted to have for several years prior to when it actually started? Wouldn’t you treasure it and want to work on it rather than giving up at the first sign of trouble? I know I would, but everybody’s experience is different of course, so maybe it will not work as well for you as it did for me. They did not just talk and have sex, of course. There was a lot of action in this book, and they took part in it, but I liked that communication was there too.
“Unless your life is in danger, in which case all bets are off.” “I figured that last part out already. You risked your life to bond with me. Your lack of common sense has actually worked to my benefit more than once.” Kavon sounded oddly unamused by Darren’s past rescue. He rested his hand on Darren’s leg. “But I don’t want to lose you because of a mistake.” Kavon turned on the bedside light, and Darren squinted as his eyes adjusted.”
I also loved that the world building became more detailed, that we learned more about how magic works, and we learned more about spirit guides in general. During one of the more unusual trips to the spirit realm Darren and Kavon encounter some acquaintances of Bennu ?.
“Suddenly there was a powerful wind around them, and the air was full of birds—dozens of them perched in the limbs above them. A pair of hummingbirds sat on the very branch where Darren was tied. A golden eagle sat on the limb above that; his sharp gaze seemed to penetrate to Kavon’s soul. Another crow-like bird was so dark blue it looked almost black as it shifted on his three legs, and storks huddled in small groups. A huge flock of crows claimed one entire branch. The sense of age and power soaked into the air, and Kavon realized these were all ifrit. These were the old guides born in the deeper realms. But most fantastically, high in the branches sat a brilliant bird with bright gold feathers and a long tail with reds and orange plumes that looked like fire. It had a long neck like a crane and a feathered crest but a small beak like a songbird. It looked very much like illustrations Kavon had once seen of a phoenix. But there was no such creature. Perhaps a spirit guide had once lived inside a dark bird that had a third leg as a birth defect, but everything about the phoenix bird was fantastical. And spirit guides had no imagination to invent themselves. They could only copy what they found in the real world. Of course, Kavon imagined Earth was not the only real world”
I always enjoy reading about well thought out magical worlds and the world of this book qualified as such, in my opinion, even though we still do not know all there is to know about it.
And Bennu remains my favorite magical creature. We learned more about him and his fearless powerful nature, but I also think that my favorite bird carries more secrets and we will learn more about them in the next book.
As you can see I loved a lot about this installment in the series. Unfortunately, though, once again I found myself underwhelmed by its mystery aspect. You know what they say about “trick the reader but not cheat the reader”? I feel like the author did not really play fair with planting clues in the story so that readers could go back and see what we missed. Thinking back, I have no idea how I could have figured out the villains. Granted, one of them was part of a not very nice group of people which I did not care for in the first place, but since when does “not very nice” equal murderous villain? The other villain was actually worse, not in tbe sense of what they did, but I felt that the reveal of the second villain made our heroes look kind of stupid.
Having said that, you may remember that I had problems with the “mystery” part of the first book too; I did not feel that there was any build up to the reveal of the villain in there either. And in this story he is clearly not forgotten, they are still trying to catch him and I take it that the conspiracy is not fully uncovered yet. So maybe the clumsy reveals are also part of the bigger plan? I certainly hope so. For now, let me repeat the suggestion I made in my review of the first book – do not go in expecting a mystery, expect a solid magical adventure/romance instead, and you should be good.