Dirty Magic – Jaye Wells

About the Book

The first in an all-new urban fantasy series by USA Todaybestseller Jaye Wells.

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.(

400 pages (paperback)
Published on January 21, 2014
Published by Orbit
Author’s webpage

This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

Jaye Wells isn’t an author that I am incredibly familiar with. In fact, I think I’ve only read one of her books before. However, I enjoyed her writing style, and I am rather stressed out right now so fast, easy, light reads are what I’m in the mood for. Thus, Dirty Magic scratched my itch. I’ve also been fairly lucky regarding urban fantasy recently. I’ve run across a lot of good UF books that have just hit me right – no overwhelming sexual tension, women that are strong because they are, rather than because they have tattoos and ooze sex appeal. Books that are fun, but thoughtful at the same time. Books that make me want to kiss the authors who wrote them for writing urban fantasy the way it was meant to be written. M.L. Brennan is one of those authors, and this book has put Jaye Wells in that camp as well.

Dirty Magic tells the story of one Kate Prospero, a woman with plenty of baggage to lug around as she struggles through life taking care of her teenaged brother and barely making ends meet. Slowly Wells reveals the fictional (somewhat superheroish) city of Babylon, and as Kate is fleshed out, her history (much of which remains a mystery) is also deliciously divulged to readers. In fact, it’s probably the pacing in regards to world building and character development that really makes Dirty Magic shine. Things aren’t revealed all at once, or even all in this novel. Instead, the foundation is set and enough questions are answered that will satisfy readers, but readers will have to work for those answers, which makes them so much sweeter.

Dirty Magic is an interesting mix of police procedural and personal drama. Usually I sort of turn off with police procedural, but Kate is an interesting character, and her past is unique enough to lend her an interesting perspective in what is happening. These two things work together to ensure that readers who might be turned off by police work might find themselves engaged despite themselves. However, the mystery is nicely balanced with Kate’s own personal issues, which she struggles with as the case unfolds and gets personal. Maybe that sounds a bit campy and trope-ish, but it really isn’t. Wells has a unique way of twining together a delicious and complex mystery with Kate’s own personal issues. All of this works nicely together to make Dirty Magic absolutely surprising and addictive.

Dirty Magic isn’t just propelled by Kate and her police buddies against the world, but Wells fills the book with some fascinating secondary characters, from Kate’s friend who acts as the voice of reason, to her neighbor Baba, who is the sort of old wise woman/batty neighbor, and some absolutely fascinating characters that Kate hits up for information on occasion. The secondary characters really add a unique, almost gritty feel to the novel which it would have otherwise lacked, and they make Kate’s life, and Babylon itself, seem so much more interesting and dynamic. It’s not just a place that Wells wrote about. These secondary characters really makes Babylon, and the story, stand out and present readers with some very interesting dynamics that can be both humorous and personal at the same time.

With all of that said, you might be wondering just what would hold me back from giving this book a raving five star review. Despite how wonderful it was, and no matter how much it scratched my itch at the right moment, Dirty Magic is the first book in a series, and it very much feels like it. Entertaining? Yes. Unique? Yes. Characters you can love? Of course. However, I never could move beyond the fact that Dirty Magic felt like more of a set up to the rest of the series rather than a book that can stand on its own legs. In fact, when I really think about it, I loved this book so much because I’m excited about what will happen next, not necessarily because of all of the things that happened here (though I did love all of those things).

Dirty Magic got my attention. Wells told a hell of an entertaining story in a fascinatingly unique world populated with very real characters that are easy to care about. Yes, this novel felt more like a setup for the rest of the series than anything else, but as far as setups go, this is probably one of the most entertaining ones I have ever read.

Bravo, Jaye Wells. Bravo.


4/5 stars

4 Responses

  • A novel that doesn’t stand alone is a bane of a lot of series, or projected series. (I wrestled with a recently finished book that does this, too)

    • You know, that complaint would usually ruin a book for me, but in this case it really didn’t.

  • I’ve enjoyed Jaye’s Sabina series. There are many who don’t like Sabina at all, but I enjoyed her. I’m looking forward to reading this book as well. Glad to hear it worked wonderfully for you.

    And, as much as I enjoy UF, I too have been frustrated with the sexual tension that’s written into them. I want a story, not just the “love” people seem to think in HAS to have.

    Thank you.

    • I think I read the first book in that series. I plan on reading more. I enjoy her writing style. And I agree on sexual tension. I’m always so excited when I find a fun UF book that isn’t flooded with sexual tension.

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