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Review: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dirty Magic
Jaye Wells

Series: The Prospero's War #1
Genre: CrimeUrban Fantasy
Paperback: 400 Pages
Publication: January 21, 2014
by Orbit


The last thing patrol cop Kate Prospero expected to find on her nightly rounds was a werewolf covered in the blood of his latest victim. But then, she also didn't expect that shooting him would land her in the crosshairs of a Magic Enforcement Agency task force, who wants to know why she killed their lead snitch.

The more Prospero learns about the dangerous new potion the MEA is investigating, the more she's convinced that earning a spot on their task force is the career break she's been wanting. But getting the assignment proves much easier than solving the case. Especially once the investigation reveals their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier—on the same day she swore she'd never use dirty magic again.

Kate Prospero's about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should be never say never.

◆ A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group for review ◆

Kate reminds me of an older version of Beka Cooper (from Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper trilogy). One that is also more prone to profanity. They both come from the slums, and both joined the justice system to take down crime in the area where they once lived. However, whereas the Beka Cooper trilogy really delves into Beka's character and who she is, Kate feels disconnected from the reader. She spends a lot of time responding to the situation without really letting readers get into her mind. It reflects her take-charge, I-don't-take-any-BS attitude, but at the same time there's lost potential in making her character more complex, as it doesn't really delve into how her past has shaped her into the woman she is today. Still, she is a likable character, and I actually like her habit to spit out profanity like it's no big deal. It reflects the harsh life she's led and is integral to her character.

There's also the teenage brother she's bringing up. It's clear that Kate's past clouds her judgment in raising her brother, as she tries to shelter him from their heritage. This is a good chance to develop her family life and show another facet to her character, and the story does to a certain extent. It just feels one-dimensional, more like a script played by good actors than something real and in your face. I also wish that we got to see more of the other characters. The members of the MEA seem really cool, and I feel like they could be very compelling characters, especially Morales and Volos. However, the side cast is fairly one-dimensional in this novel. Hopefully they'll be developed more in the next book.

What really makes the story come to life are the heart-pounding action scenes that really immersed me in Kate's world. It's what pulled me into the first pages and really sucked me in the latter parts of the story. It also features a unique world where magic is part talent and part science. It's really interesting and made out to be the it's-part-of-every-day-life no-big-deal that it is through the minimal world building. Those who like writing that introduces enough of the world without getting bogged down in the details will appreciate this. The world is so interesting, however, that I actually would have liked to see more of the magical world that Kate comes from. Still, I can understand the lack of a magical focus because of Kate's aversion to it. Besides, because of the way the plot is moving, it looks like she'll be forced to confront her roots, and I expect magic to play a more prominent role in the future.

Overall, this is a promising start to a new series, and I'm looking forward to seeing the world and politics more intricately developed in Cursed Moon, the second installment in the series!

Additional Information
  1. Dirty Magic
  2. Cursed Moon

Similar Books
  • Trickster by Jeff Somers

  • Language (a lot)
  • Sexual references
  • Violence

On another note
Though there is a great deal of profanity and sexual references in this novel, it doesn't feel staged. I actually like it. This story is set in the slummy parts of town, and the main characters risk their lives to bring justice to criminals. It's real and gritty, and the profanity is just another part of it.

The model radiates the aura I'd expect from Kate: strong and domineering. I also like the science-y setup because that's a part of the magic process and central to the story. I just don't like how the cover art has been done. It looks like poorly done Photoshop—at least, how I'd envision it looks, not having had much experience with it.

2 comments on "Review: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells"
  1. Interesting as I really found myself enjoying this book a lot. I guess we just had a different take on things. Your review is very well thought out. I see your points. I like the world building a lot.

    Books of Love

  2. Hmmm hm hmmm ... I've seen a few reviews that mention the same things you did, and it's not making me very excited to read it. lol. I was hoping this would be a knockout, but it's not sounding like it. I'll probably wait until the next book is out to read them.


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