Jan 21, 2014

Posted by in Reviews | 5 Comments

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

dirtymagic4 star

Urban Fantasy
January 21 2014
Mass Market Paperback
400 pages
Received from publisher

Kick Ass Chick – Kate Prospero

From Goodreads –
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.


Dirty Magic is the first book in a shiny new series by Jaye WellsProspero’s War follows Kate Prospero, a cop who is also an Adept, a wizard capable of cooking potions.  Think of potions as the drugs of the world Jaye created for this series.  Kate’s beat at the moment is the area of town known as the Cauldron and this area of town is known for having issues with dirty potions, which are bad.

I enjoyed Kate as a character.  She was getting addicted to the power she got from cooking potions so she quit ten years ago and hasn’t touched one since.  She won’t even use potions, no matter how ‘good’ some are supposed to be.  She is also raising her teenaged brother Danny since her mother died and, as most cops, is trying to make a difference in the city.  She is loyal with a strong sense of right.

Volos was a very intriguing character. He plays a pretty significant role in this book and I’m not too sure what to make of him. I’m thinking we will be seeing quite a bit of him in future books and that he will always be a voice from Kate’s past and a thought of her future and a bit of a jerk and a bit of a good guy. See? Intriguing.

Other characters that stood out to me were Danny (I think Jaye did a good job writing this teenager), Mez and Morales (members of Kate’s team) and Pen (Kate’s best friend).  I find all of these characters helped build Kate’s character and also helped the story.

As for the story, a new dirty potion has been introduced into the Cauldron.  It’s bad.  Very bad.  It makes people go hairy, howl and eat people.  Yeah…bad.  Kate joins a team of detectives who are charged with finding out who is cooking it.  There are many high octane types of scenes and the mystery of who is responsible for the new potion is told very well.  Once you thought you knew who was responsible, Jaye planted doubts in your mind.  I find this is a talent authors of good mystery possess and was pleased Jaye was able to pull it off.  And once we did find out who was responsible, it didn’t quite click.  That’s when the twist came out and that twist is what I am sure will help make the next book, Cursed Moon (out August 12th 2014) even more interesting.

I mentioned Morales.  He is one of those characters that is a bit of an arse in the beginning but then you soon see a softer side emerge throughout the story.  He is also a bit of a mystery and quite sexy.  There is a hint at a ‘perhaps down the road’ romance between him and Kate and I think that would be a good thing.  I feel they would suit each other quite well.  But there was a little ‘er…what?’ moment for me that I felt was not necessary between the two of them.  Up to that moment, there was acknowledgment of mutual attraction and the adoption of a little pet name but that is pretty much it. Then, all of a sudden, Morales offers to “go inside” and Kate contemplates having sex with him to make herself feel better…then nothing.  To me, that scene just felt forced.  If we just had the light chemistry and interest and that was it in this book, it would have been perfect.

The world Jaye created was really detailed.  The first half or so of the book was a little stuffed with world building but then the book really picks up and the pace becomes crazy, in the very best of ways.  My brain had a road block though when it came to the world.  We are talking potions, made up of good and bad, legal and illegal ingredients and cooked together to make something people drank or injected.  You read this and you think ‘drugs’.  And that is where my mind went often in this book.  Yes, I am aware that that is sort of the point – that this world is a new twist on drugs – but my brain had trouble seeing the ‘new’.  When Kate is dealing with the bad dirty potion and talking ingredients and how it is to be mixed, when she is looking at ingredients trying to decipher this from that, I found that all fascinating.  Really, the detail in the writing is incredible.  But the reason for the new potion is real estate and the dirty potion is a horrible and gruesome drug.  So even though it was all written remarkably, in the end my brain saw this as yet another spin on bad drugs in a bad part of town and turf wars causing pointless deaths and people to go insane.  A unique twist to this but still a familiar plotline.

As I said though, it was well thought out and well written.  The characters were strong and well developed.  This was a solid book and a good start to a new series.  It has definitely made me curious about book two.

4 stars

Giggle worthy quote –

“Eldritch greeted me near the sergeant’s desk.  He made a big presentation of giving me a hug.  ‘Welcome!’ he said in a forced tone that made me want to turn around and leave.  But before I could, he urged me toward his office while smiling for the troops and claiming I was the woman of the hour.

Once we reached the office, some of his joviality dimmed but he remained friendly.

‘Sit, sit,’ he said, waving to the chair.  He sat on the edge of the desk near me and sighed.  ‘First, how’s Danny?’

‘He’s good.’  I smiled.  ‘Ornery.’

‘Excellent!’  Eldritch slapped his knee.  ‘One thing I’ll say for you Prosperos:  You’re all fighters.’

I nodded to accept the backhanded compliment.  ‘We got the casserole from Francine.  Thank her for me.’  I’d thrown it out in the garbage the day it arrived.  Why did everyone send casseroles in times of crisis?  Why didn’t anyone ever send brownies and Jack Daniel’s?”


  1. I so need to read this one

  2. I just received it today so now I’m really curious to start it! So impatient!

  3. I am very curious about this one Julie, glad you enjoyed it.

  4. blodeuedd – 🙂

    melliane – I’m anxious to read your review 🙂

    aurian – I hope you enjoy it when you decide to read it 🙂

  5. So many of the authors I read love Jaye Wells, but I haven’t read any of her stuff yet. Maybe this will be the one to get me into her. Your review is promising enough! 🙂

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