Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 416 pages
Release Date: January 21, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Prospero’s War series
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I got this book to review through NetGalley, so thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. Jaye Wells also writes the Sabina Kane urban fantasy series, which I have been wanting to read but haven’t had the chance to read. Dirty Magic is the first book in a new series by Wells set in a new world. It was a decent start to a new urban fantasy. I wasn’t enthralled with the characters, but as the story progressed I got more and more interested. I definitely think this has potential to become a great urban fantasy series.
Kate Prospero is on her standard nightly rounds in the city of Babylon when she runs across a woman being mauled by a werewolf-like creature. She shoots him in self-defense…but doing so draws the attention of the MEA (Magic Enforcement Agency). Suddenly Kate finds herself deeply involved in a case with the MEA that involves a deadly new dirty potion that is plaguing the Cauldron (rundown part of Babylon). To further complicate things Kate’s rich ex-boyfriend (John Volos) is one of the prime suspects.
This was a decent urban fantasy. I thought the setting was interesting, but never really was all that engaged with the main heroine. Things did get more interesting towards the end of the book, as our heroine started to get more involved in using her Adept magic. Up to that point though, this book was mostly a police procedural with some supernatural potion stuff thrown in.
Kate is a cop who has a sordid history as an Adept who made dirty potions for the Cauldron underground. She worked hard to free herself from the clutches of her mobster-like family. She is eager to help out the MEA, it will be a promotion for her and help her to really make a difference in stamping out dirty magic. However Kate’s life is a bit complicated. Because of both of her parents being dead, she is left to raise her teenage brother herself. Also as things progress she finds out that her ex-boyfriend from her Dirty Magic days is now an influential and rich man in the Babylon political scene…and he is the prime suspect in the creation of a new dirty potion that is causing havoc on the streets.
I didn’t really like Kate all that much. She is very much a cop running from a dirty past. She does a lot of stupid things. She doesn’t handle her brother Danny well at all, she has a spot of blind fear and hatred where magic is concerned, and she seems a bit too willing to forgive the man that she used to date. She makes a lot of the same mistakes over and over again throughout the book. She does get a bit more interesting as she starts to reveal more of her Adept magic side, but this doesn’t happen into much further into the book.
Kate’s two potential love interests are, of course John, and her MEA partner Morales. John has the whole “slightly evil rich guy but occasionally sensitive and caring guy” thing going on. I don’t like him and I have read about too many other characters like him in urban fantasies. Morales just comes off as a bit of a sex fiend, he is constantly trying to get Kate to have casual sexual relations with him.
Even though I didn’t like Kate or either of her love interests, there are some interesting characters in here. Kate’s brother Danny is an interesting kid and I liked reading about him. Mez is the MEA’s resident magic wizard and he’s pretty unique and awesome. Kate also has an informant that is half baby, half creepy lady named Little Man (LM) that is crazy creepy but also really intriguing.
The surroundings are gritty and this is definitely dark urban fantasy. Babylon is a city plagued by additive dirty magic potions and the addicts that are desperate for them. The seedier parts of the city are run by Clans of Adepts. We have yet to meet all of these Clans.
I guess part of my problem with this book is that it is mainly a police procedural type of story, the magic is there but not incredibly prevalent until later on in the book. After Kate starts getting more involved with the magic, things get more interesting but this doesn’t happen until pretty late in the book.
Overall this was an okay start to a new series, it was easy to read and decently written. I just wasn’t all that drawn into the story or the world. I also didn’t like the characters all that much. I think it has potential but right now I am on the fence as to whether or not I will read the next book in the series.