Ever since Jaye Wells wow’ed me on a string of book convention panels, I promised myself I would read one of her books. If nothing else, I had to see if her writing would be a fraction as entertaining as I found the author to be in person. Honestly, this was nothing like I expected. I kept waiting for evidence of her humor and wit to surface, but this is not that kind of book. It’s dark and gritty. It’s violent and complicated. And I really enjoyed it.
The story follows Kate Prospero, a beat cop, raising her teenaged brother in a world brimming with magic. Kate, herself, was quite skilled at cooking potions. And her uncle was the king of the dirty magic trade on the streets. But once a potion killed her mom, and her uncle landed behind bars, Kate rid herself of all magic in her life. She also broke up with John, the man she loved, to sever ties to the magic community. She still struggles with her decision, and because of her status as an adept, has to work extra-hard to prove herself as a legit cop.
With the appearance of a potent new dirty potion on the street, Kate finally has a chance to advance her career. It’s turning people into flesh-craving animals, and no one knows the source. Kate becomes part of the investigation, which becomes more and more personal, as the suspects and victims end up a who’s who of her past and present.
I really liked the world Wells created here. It’s a little dense, especially in the beginning, but I didn’t feel lost while she laid it all out. It’s kind of bleak at times, fraught with a drug underworld vibe. It’s easy to see things through Kate’s eyes as we learn how prolific potions have become and how blurry the lines really are between so-called clean and dirty magic. It’s no wonder she is so wary of it. She is an interesting blend of tough and downtrodden, as she struggles to stay true to her beliefs and raise her brother in a life where she can’t even afford a single taxi trip to work. She risks her life on the job, but meets derision and distrust for her trouble.
And then there is her little brother. Who I couldn’t stand. He’s an ungrateful little snot, but Kate loves him more than anything. Which is what makes me want to kick him in the face for the enormous amount of grief she goes through because of him. Not all of it is his fault, but enough of it is. The dynamic between these two probably made me empathize and care about Kate more than anything. It was very well done. But lest you think Kate is just a punching bag, she also shines as a tough and effective cop. When the chips fall, she can definitely take care of business.
If you’re looking for a romance, unfortunately you won’t find one here. There are two possible love interests, which could play out in future books: one, the cocky partner and two, the manipulative ex boyfriend. I have a feeling the ex is going to come out on top, but I just didn’t like him. Either way, at this point there is nothing to see on that front anyway.
Overall, I did enjoy it, though. If you’re an urban fantasy fan that doesn’t need a romance –or if you like a dark street vibe, I’d say give it a try.
*ARC Provided by Orbit
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Jaye Wells
Release Date: January 21, 2014