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Early Review: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells (The Prospero’s War #1)

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Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells // VBC ReviewDirty Magic (The Prosperos War #1)
Jaye Wells
Published: Jan. 21, 2014 (Orbit)
Purchase at: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Kate Prospero is a beat cop in Babylon. A once beautiful city, it is slowly deteriorating under the use of dirty magics supplied by the wizard covens of the city’s underground. While out on patrol one night, Kate comes across a man seemingly turned into an animal, ravaging a human body. When he turns his feral gaze upon Kate she has no choice but to shoot to kill. This event opens a huge can of worms. There’s a new potion on the market called Gray Wolf that essentially turns the user into a flesh and blood addicted animal.

The Magic Enforcement Agency (MEA) has been called in to figure out this mess, and the mayor, along with other politicians, wants it solved as quickly and quietly as possible. Being turned down for promotion multiple times, Kate looks at this as an opportunity to get ahead in the department. What she doesn’t reckon on is the fact that her ex-love John Volos is quickly becoming suspect No. 1. Now with the threat of her past coming back to haunt her, Kate is going to have to deal with things she wished would stay hidden.

Dirty Magic was one of my highly anticipated books for 2014 and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Kate, a former potion “cooker” and member of a coven, left that life behind after a personal tragedy leaves her to raise her younger brother. Seeing no good in magic whatsoever, Kate cuts it out of her life completely. She hopes her decision to become a cop will make her part of the help rather than the destruction of the city. Kate’s struggle with magic in all its forms is very interesting. Add the fact that her brother is now old enough to start asking questions and all the old feelings start bubbling to the surface. The investigation leads Kate to decide if anything is worth compromising her morals for, and once she goes down that path will she be able to pull herself out again?

There are twists and turns in the investigation and Jaye Wells does a great job of balancing the political with the magic. The varying levels of magic—clean vs. dirty—is all very complex. While there are different covens, focusing on different forms of potion making, Dirty Magic mainly deals with Votary (alchemical) covens.

On the other side of things, Dirty Magic is definitely a police procedural and with that usually comes pressure from those in high positions of power who want their public images remaining spotless. I thought the inner workings of the police department were interesting. Kate does a good job of navigating through despite not knowing where everyone’s interests lie.

Being firmly in the urban fantasy category there’s very little romance, but I feel Wells does introduce some definite possibilities. On one hand we have Kate’s former flame John Volos. There are still those old feelings of lost young love, but being a former coven member himself and now a pillar of society, it’s hard to tell what game he’s playing at. Then there’s Agent Drew Morales whose first impression of Kate is none too kind, but slowly warms to her as part of MEA’s team. I’m very interested to see how things play out.

Dirty Magic is a great start to what will hopefully be a great series. I’m excited there will be two releases this year with Cursed Moon in the fall.

Sexual content: References to sex

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