Dirty Magic (Prospero's War, #1)Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

My rating: 3.76 of 5 stars

Almost 4 Stars, but it just did not quite make it.

“Whether you used it with good intentions or ill, magic was magic, and instead of being black or white, most of it was smoke-screen gray.”

This down and dirty tale of cops and magic villains is a bit noir only without all the darkness.

Kate Prospero is a woman with a past. But she only lets that stop her in a few neurotic areas. As it is, she is an ex dirty magic cooker become cop with some serious complexities, not to mention a Godfather-type Uncle and the ex-boyfriend from the wrong side of villain. Too bad her department is not letting her overcome these quirky past problems and make detective…those judgemental jerks.

“…back in the day, we’d cooked in kitchens and bathrooms with whatever supplies we could beg, borrow, or steal. That’s why dirty magic was sometimes called ‘bathtub alchemy.'”

But a new threat is emerging on her streets and her inner knowledge of the worst magic out there is just what the good guys need to stop some psycho with delusions of grandeur from turning her streets red with potion addled junkies turned werewolf(ish.) But getting a temp job on the big kids’ team may ask of her more than she ever imagined- and I am not just talking about the reconnect with her f***ed up ex and his high handed me-man-you-peon schtick that makes an independent woman-type want to rip his face off. (view spoiler) And that is before things get really personal and not only her team but her family need her to overcome her past and save the day…or rather the Cauldron- the Hell’s Kitchen of this burg.

“I definitely drew the line at drinking another woman’s bra hooch.”

Bra hooch aside, the plot is original, the characters are deliciously complex, and the conversation is believable. So why the downgrade to just shy of 4? Well…sigh…I found myself skimming.

Oh yes. The world is unique, slightly dark, and quite on par with the appropriate balance between grit and humanity. BUT the world building did begin to get a bit overly technical in the telling of details and the lacking of showing the details.

Potions have become the Rx of the Babylon world. Babylon, Ohio that is. And like the medications and drugs in our world, abuse and cut corners are running rampant. Not only that, but some people have the magic for it and some people do not. And the line remains thin between safe and unsafe, with little more difference than ingredients and funding. This is a tale of magical realism more than magical fantasy. And realism can be harder to read than fantasy because…well..DETAILS. The magic has to fit seamlessly into our own world. And sometimes (yup for me this was such a case) we get just too many small details being listed ad nauseum and..well..the skim.


““People allow things to have power over them. You want to get your head right, girlie? You gotta snatch that power back!” 

Because, like the characters, this ain’t no one-dimensional read! This is an all too real world of ex potion cookers, mafia covens, shirly family mechanics, hunk-a-licious dickweed partners, and evil exs. We have drugs, magic, and politics all wrapped in a pleasant-to-read package. Not to mention the lies and hidden depths that will likely blow a crater big enough for a moon to pass through in upcoming installments. Oh yes…you will find yourself addicted to this magic world like Grey Wolf addicts to blood. It comes ALIVE for us and is better for its realism.

So just bear up to the technical and prepare to enjoy the rest knowing that now that it is all explained, the next book should hopefully be all characters and plot.

(PS I simply have to know what happens to Uncle Abe.

PPS I hate, hate, HATE to love the ex. So he better fix his mental disfunction soon….because Kindles break when thrown.)

Recommended especially for the Dresden fans but definitely for the fellow contemporary fantasy-loving urbanites who enjoy a little more REAL in their urban fantasy and a little less GAH IT IS ALMOST A TEENAGE ROMANCE.

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