Dirty Magic: An entertaining set-up novel

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsDirty Magic by Jaye Wells fantasy book reviewsDirty Magic by Jaye Wells

Dirty Magic tells the story of Kate Prospero, a woman with plenty of baggage to lug around as she struggles through life taking care of her teenaged brother and barely making ends meet. Slowly Wells reveals the fictional (somewhat superheroish) city of Babylon, and as Kate is fleshed out, her history (much of which remains a mystery) is also deliciously divulged to readers. In fact, it’s probably the pacing in regards to world building and character development that really makes Dirty Magic shine. Things aren’t revealed all at once, or even all in this novel. Instead, the foundation is set and enough questions are answered that will satisfy readers, but readers will have to work for those answers, which makes them so much sweeter.

Dirty Magic is an interesting mix of police procedural and personal drama. Usually I sort of turn off with police procedural, but Kate is an interesting character, and her past is unique enough to lend her an interesting perspective to what is happening. These two things work together to ensure that readers who might be turned off by police work might find themselves engaged despite themselves. However, the mystery is nicely balanced with Kate’s own personal issues, which she struggles with as the case unfolds and gets personal. All of this works nicely together to make Dirty Magic absolutely surprising and addictive.

Dirty Magic isn’t just propelled by Kate and her police buddies against the world, but Wells fills the book with some fascinating secondary characters, from Kate’s friend who acts as the voice of reason, to her neighbor Baba, the old wise woman/batty neighbor, and some absolutely fascinating characters that Kate hits up for information on occasion. The secondary characters really add a unique, almost gritty feel to the novel which it would have otherwise lacked, and they make Kate’s life, and Babylon itself, seem so much more interesting and dynamic. These secondary characters really make Babylon, and the story, feel real and present readers with some interesting dynamics that can be both humorous and personal at the same time.

With all of that said, you might be wondering just what would hold me back from giving this book a raving five star review. Despite how wonderful it was, and no matter how much it scratched my itch at the right moment, Dirty Magic is the first book in a series, and it very much feels like it. Entertaining? Yes. Unique? Yes. Characters you can love? Of course. However, I never could move beyond the fact that Dirty Magic feels like more of a set up to the rest of the series rather than a book that can stand on its own legs. In fact, when I really think about it, I loved this book so much because I’m excited about what will happen next, not necessarily because of all of the things that happened here (though I did love all of those things).

Dirty Magic got my attention. Wells told a hell of an entertaining story in a fascinatingly unique world populated with very real characters that are easy to care about. Yes, this novel felt more like a setup for the rest of the series than anything else, but as far as setups go, this is probably one of the most entertaining ones I have ever read.

Prospero’s War — (2014-2015) 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 never say never.

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SARAH CHORN, one of our regular guest reviewers, has been a compulsive reader her whole life, and early on found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a published photographer, world traveler and recent college graduate and mother. Sarah keeps a blog at Bookworm Blues.

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2 comments

  1. The way you describe this, it sounds great. Your point about it being a wind-up prequel is apropos, given that it’s 400+ pages long. That’s awfully long to not offer a complete story arc. Still, I’m interested based on the characterization you described, so I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!

  2. I haven’t read anything by Jaye Wells, but I keep hearing good things. So many books, so little time…

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