5 STAR REVIEW: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

Dirty MagicDIRTY MAGIC (The Prospereo Wars #1)
By Jaye Wells
Publisher: Orbit (UK/US)
Publication Date: 21st January 2014 (UK) / 10th December 2013 (US)
Format: Paperback (281pages)
Source: OWN COPY

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. (Goodreads)


Urban Fantasy is a very fickle genre, especially if the main protagonist is female. There is a real fear, at least for me, that the author will bleed into Paranormal Romance Territory. Dirty Magic isn’t one of these books. It is un-apologetically Urban Fantasy with a heroine who could more than stand up to her male counterparts. Coupled with a fantastic plot, Dirty Magic is one of my favourite books in the genre.

The plot progresses in a very familiar fashion with the female lead, Kate being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While walking on her beat, she ends up coming face to face with a feral perpetrator that ends with her being thrust into the middle of an investigation that seems to point to the most powerful person in Babylon. The fact that said person is also an ex of hers, just complicates matters. She is then seconded to a special branch of a government agency due to her familiarity with the district.

From this I can hear you saying, “Well, what makes this so different from other Urban Fantasies?” The genius part to this book is how wonderfully Wells builds up the plot in such a complex way, only to tear it down and reconstruct it in such a simple way you want to hit yourself over the head due to how you could miss it. Very few authors could manage this, while still managing to give you a satisfying ending AND enough loose plotlines to propel the next book.

Wells has created a very complex, yet familiar world with coven’s replacing drug cartels and a city that could be any metropolis in America. She sets clear rules about the difference between “clean” and “dirty” magic. It makes it come across as a living breathing world, with so many different walks of life

Kate, the main protagonist in the series and the book has to be one of my favourite female characters in the last few years. As one of the other characters says, she is a fighter and this demonstrated throughout the book. That’s not to say that she is perfect. Some of the decisions she makes have serious repercussions, though at the time she thinks that she doing the right thing at the time. Her loyalty to her brother and her drive to make up for the sins of the past, especially one that shaped her life, are what motivates her to fight against the corruption in the city.

As for the other characters in the book, the only others that made a huge impact with me were of course her partner, Morales and her former coven member and paramour, Voles. Both of these men bring out the best and worst in Kate. At first I thought there would be a love triangle, but though Kate does have an attraction to Morales and she still holds some sort of affection for Voles, her priority is the upbringing of her brother.

On retrospect, the spectre that is Abe Prosperos, Kate’s former coven leader and God father, is the ominous threat to the city. Though he is now in jail, partly thanks to Voles co-operation in getting him sent down. Time and again, he is showing that though he is now behind bars, he still exerts a certain influence over the city.

As for Kate’s younger brother, Danny, he manages to ground her in ways that neither of the other men in her life can. He is her main priority and she wants to keep him away from the life that she had. True, I don’t agree with her methods and I can see that she could drive him down that dangerous path.

This is a great start to a brilliant new Urban Fantasy series. There is just the right amount of action, mystery and kick-assness to keep me on my feet. This is a series that can hold its own against the best of the books. Kate is a refreshing urban fantasy heroine, with a balance of toughness and vulnerability that makes her instantly relatable. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this series.

Reading this book, I kept thinking any moment I would find Walter White or Jesse, from the TV Show Breaking Bad, entering the scene. Wells has created a world that is that fully realised.

5 star




1 Dirty Magic
2 Cursed Moon
3 Deadly Spells (Coming 2015)

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