BOOK REVIEW: Dirty Magic

Bestselling author Jaye Wells released the first book of her newest urban fantasy series, Dirty Magic, back in 2014 which had sequels published later that year and in 2015 with more still to come. Dirty Magic is book one of the “Prospero’s War” series by Jaye Wells and it is surely an exciting read.

The book follows Kate Prospero, a police officer in the American city of Babylon who patrols the streets of The Cauldron, an urban ghetto known for magic dealing, coven wars, and other forms of low life activity. This magic isn’t quite the same as it is in other fantasy books though. In Dirty Magic, magic is a drug, or more accurately, similar to the function of drugs since there are various magics which fulfill different needs. Magic is also divided into dirty and clean magic. Dirty is the equivalent of street drugs and clean being essentially pharmaceuticals. Similarly, covens are the book’s equivalent to street gangs warring over turf in The Cauldron.

The novel primarily revolves around a joint task force put together by the Magical Enforcement Agency (MEA) to deal with the covens of The Cauldron.


Prospero’s boring patrols of The Cauldron’s mean streets changes forever when she stumbles across a Hex-head (drug addict) in the shape of a werewolf devouring a woman in a dark alley. When the werewolf turns its attention to Prospero, she is forced to shoot and kill him. In a twist of fate, it turns out that he was the lead snitch for the MEA’s task force trying to take down the covens in Babylon.

Prospero is provided the opportunity to get out of her dead end career as a patrol officer by joining the task force but if they fail at taking down the wizard responsible for the magic that turns people into werewolves, the task force will be disbanded. If so, its back on patrol for Prospero.

I haven’t heard of many authors who did a good job at portraying the life of a police officer in writing. Usually, urban fantasies follow private investigators or teenagers rather than the PoPo. In this novel, Officer Prospero and the other officers seen throughout the novel are, to me, exemplary characters of the policing world that one might meet while doing a ride along or taking policing courses. On top of that, there is also some terms and phrases that one might pick up if they were taking police foundations at Niagara College.

My favorite use of the police motif was actually the use of the law and, more specifically, the gray areas of the legal system that can either work in favor of or against the police. This occurs many times throughout the book which adds new levels of both reality and difficulty to the storyline and the tasks undertaken by the characters.

The only negative to the book that I can describe is the lack of depth to the villainous characters. However, since it is a series of books, there is always the potential to have the villains get better over the course of the following novels.

Although I was a little slow on taking up this new series, I have enjoyed the discovery. I plan to read the following books at some point because Dirty Magic was a quality read.

- Matt Von Lukawiecki

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