Book Review: Deadly Spells by Jaye Wells
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 3 of Prospero’s War
Publisher: Orbit (February 10, 2015)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ever since the release of Dirty Magic a year ago, I’ve been hearing such great things the Prospero’s War series, which is why over the holiday season I decided to take the plunge and binge read the first and second books. And that’s the story of how I got hooked into yet another urban fantasy series, as well as my first introduction to the work of Jaye Wells.
Meet protagonist Kate Prospero, former scion of a dirty magic coven who has turned her back on her old life in order to start clean. Now a beat cop on loan to the Magical Enforcement Agency, Kate is hoping to shed the prejudices of her notorious family name by helping her new team members investigate magic-related crimes in the rust belt city of Babylon, while also trying to raise her younger brother by herself.
Deadly Spells begins with the murder of a leader of a dirty magic coven leader, lighting a spark which could set off a chain of events leading to an all-out turf war if Kate and the MEA task force can’t track down the killer first.
For a series that’s already three books in, it is not surprising that it’s had its ups and downs. I’ve come this far though, so obviously I’m still enjoying the hell out of it. I like my urban fantasy fast-paced and entertaining, and Prospero’s War delivers. Wells has created and built a whole world around a relatively simple concept involving “clean” versus “dirty” magic. Those individuals who are magically adept can “cook” potions, creating all sorts of concoctions with a variety of uses. Clean potions are made, sold, and used legally, whereas dirty potions are cooked and distributed by cartel-like organizations on the streets for the less law-abiding citizenry. Like I said, it’s a simple and straightforward concept, yet its potential for interesting cases is virtually limitless.
Kate is also a complex but sometimes exasperating character. Our heroine has gone through a lot in the last two books, so understandably her emotions are a whirlwind of confusion and guilt by this point. But while some characters carry their burdens with grace, unfortunately that’s just not Kate. She’s the kind of person who gets into a lot of trouble due to her own stupid decisions, but dare to point that out to her and she’ll chew your face off. There’s only so much I can take of a character’s crap, and admittedly she came dangerously close to that line in the last book. Thankfully, now that she’s made her peace with magic, her attitude has vastly improved. While at times she is still a bully and a condescending self-righteous hypocrite, at least she did not try my patience as much in this book (though making stupid decisions due to impulsiveness and her own negligence is sadly still a pattern).
However, on the whole I’m enjoying where the main series arc is headed as well as the development of the relationships between various characters. Kate’s situation of raising her teenaged brother Danny is perhaps a bit clichéd, but wrangling a broody and defiant sixteen year old always makes for some stories in every book. I’d also hoped that Kate would finally stop wasting her time with John Volos and that Wells would stop teasing that pairing as a possible romance since that doozy appears to be hitting a brick wall no matter how you look at it. Again, there seems to be progress in this area, as well as certain developments in Kate’s love life that should make Drew Morales fans very happy. Finally, Kate’s pretty clueless, but still I can’t help but be curious about where future stories in this series will go now that she’s been hit with some huge revelations about her past life.
Urban fantasy readers, you can’t go wrong with the Prospero’s War series. It sounds like there may be more books after Deadly Spells, though I can’t seem to find any sources to confirm at this time of writing. I sure hope so though, as this series is just starting to get off the ground. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it has a bite. Sure, the protagonist isn’t perfect, but then who is? There are themes in these books that will make those with more delicate sensibilities squirm, but if you like a slightly more twisted vibe to your UF then you’re golden.
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Orbit Books!