Review: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

September 12, 2014 4.5 stars, Book Review 16 ★★★★½

Review: Dirty Magic by Jaye WellsDirty Magic by Jaye Wells
Series: The Prospero's War #1
Published by Orbit Books on January 21, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 381
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
My Reviews in this series: Cursed Moon, Dirty Magic, Cursed Moon, Deadly Spells

The first in an all-new urban fantasy series by USA Today bestseller 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.


I love urban fantasy… I love the question, “What if magic was REAL? (I am still on the fence on whether it is real and hidden in our world, myself) Dirty Magic offers an answer that is well… dirty. In Dirty Magic we follow the story of Kate, an adept who can brew potions and other magical devices that are used in her city of Babylon, Ohio. An analogy for how magic works in their world vs. ours is medicinal marijuana. In the hands of doctors, THC is given out in specific pure increments. If you buy it from a friend, you may end up with some extra garbage in there to up the profit margin. The side effects are dangerous when overused in either instance. In Kate’s world, Potions and patches can do anything you can imagine, from making you super fit (like steroids), or super beautiful (like hair dye). The side effects are gruesome, and Jaye Wells never stops short of the full story.

I will say this: DO NOT EAT WHILE READING DIRTY MAGIC. The nitty gritty interesting world of the cauldron is explored in it’s full, stenchy, glory.

Kate Prospero’s life has changed while she left the Coven she was born into with her Uncle Abe’s blessing. The life she had planned with John Volos as a star adept potion brewer was changed due to tragedy, and she decided to become a police officer to help fix some of the damage she caused working for her uncle. We meet Kate when a big break in her career allows her to join a task force that may actually help make a difference. She also has to dredge up her painful past and deal with the attractive, charismatic and uber-rich ex-boyfriend John Volos. The brother she has full custody of is 16 and beginning to ask questions about magic, and Kate’s life is going to change for good or bad.

I really liked reading this book, and the Prospero’s War series is looking like an excellent world to flesh out. The city of Babylon and the Cauldron are both beautifully detailed and the the war between the covens looks to be explosive. There is no veneer on the story, and I appreciate that in this series. People hyped up on these magic/drugs are literally bringing their addictions out for everybody in the world to see. If you want to look beautiful, you can… for awhile. Then the side effects turn your skin a horrible shade unless you can afford more ( and more…) and the cycle of addiction begins. There are sex deviants, body builders and a host of other problems that are out for the world to see. If you have the money, you can delay the process by avoiding the coven “dirty” magic. The police officers can use patches to protect their bodies from some injuries. The downside is they are painful to wear. This balance, the possible good and the horrible make Dirty Magic very real.

Last warning: Do not eat while reading Dirty Magic.  It is intense(ly good)!

Here is an excellent quote describing “The Arteries” part of the Cauldron:

“A block or so ahead I could see one of the boarded-up gates that led down into the old subway tunnels.  The system had been abandoned fifty years earlier, before the project was anywhere close to completion.  Now the tunnels served as a rabbit warren for potion addicts wanting to chase the black dragon in the rat-infested, shit-stench darkness.” (pg.4)

Vivid, right?  That’s what I love about this book.  It feels real, and dirty and just a bit scary. Dirty Magic is a must read for Urban Fantasy lovers! 4.5 stars for me, because I read during meal times and this book was vividly gross.


When not taking care of my two children, husband and mini doxy, rushing here and there on the go, I can always be found reading. Fantasy of course being my favorite genre, but not the only I'll read. Oh yes, and I throw bad books.

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16 Responses to “Review: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells”

  1. kim { Book Swoon }

    I’m glad to see you enjoyed Dirty Magic. I’ve been excited to read it and like that it presented many of the problems magic/dirty magic can create. I recently read a review that was on the flip side which had me worried. I’m definitely going to go back and check this one out 🙂

  2. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    I love paranormal / fantasy reads too, Maggie. And I had to laugh about not eating while reading Dirty Magic 🙂 Thanks for the tip. I don’t want to make my kindle dirty.
    And the fact that the writing made the story vivid in your mind is a huge plus, so yet again, I can’t leave a blog without adding a new book to my TBR shelf.
    Great review.
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  3. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    Thanks for the double warning about the eating thing! I struggled with Stacia Kane’s novels at first because the heroine is addicted to drugs, and the world is really gritty, but several installments later it began to grow on me, and I think that the same rules might apply as far as Wells’ The Prospero’s War series is concerned. That being said, I learned my lesson the first time around, so I’m going to wait until another book or two has been released before taking the plunge. Lovely review!
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  4. Mary @BookSwarm

    I LOVED this first book in the series though not so much in the second…it was good but not nearly as awesome as Dirty Magic. Which I hate to say because I want so much for this series to continue and continue to blow me away. And I definitely second the not eating bit. Very gritty. Very stenchy.
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  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    Good to know about the stenchy glory, haha! I’ve enjoyed grittier UF in the past and unlike many people I actually really enjoyed Jaye Well’s first series, the Sabina Kane books. This one has been on my watch list for a while but you’ve definitely made it climb the ranks. 🙂
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Tough Traveling: TyrantsMy Profile