Jaye Wells

Books: Fantasy | Mystery

Prospero's War: Fire Water (2015), Dirty Magic (2014), Cursed Moon (2014), Deadly Spells (2015), Volatile Bonds (2017)

Prospero's War

Fire Water (2015)

Fire WaterThis is a short story prequel to the Prospero's War series.

Prospero is finishing up at the academy, her final week of shadowing. She's also trying to find a new place for her and her little brother to move into, which is possibly harder than finishing the police academy.

It's been awhile since I read the final book in the series, and I didn't have any issues falling back into the world, so I think this would be a fine introduction if you haven't read any of the other books in the series.

I'd somehow forgotten how much I enjoyed this series; for some reason I kept expecting things to take a super dark turn, but they never did.

I don't think I'm in the mood to reread this series, but I think I probably will in the future, after this reminder.

Publisher: Orbit

Rating: 6.5/10

Dirty Magic (2014)

DIRTY-MAGICI desperately needed something distracting, so picked up Dirty Magic, read a couple chapters, wasn't sure it was what I was in the mood for, but the next day picked it back up, and discovered it served admirably as a distraction.

Kate Prospero spent her youth cooking dirty magic. She quit cold turkey, and went on to become a cop, but being an Adept–as well as her past in the Covens–hovers over her, and has probably kept her from promotions. But still, she wants to get dirty magic off the streets, and is willing to be a beat cop if that's what it takes.

I really liked Kate.

"Ah c'mon. I didn't do nothin'."

I raised a brow. "You flashed a weapon at an officer."

"Ah man! I didn't know you was a cop. Thought you was just an uppity bitch."

"As it happens, I'm both. Do not move."

I like how she took care of her brother, how she kept walking the beat even if it wasn't getting her anywhere, and I like how she had to struggle with all the things that were important to her.

I also liked the mystery and the complicated characters.

But that is not to say that it was perfect. I really really didn't understand the difference between "dirty magic" and "clean magic." The stakes were really really high for what seemed to be rather subtle differences.

This became an issue towards the end of the book, when the use of magic becomes a blackmail tool. I also really didn't see why the creation of anti-potions was illegal. Especially when potions created by "clean magic" were routinely used by law enforcement.

A last note–this is a great cover. She's not dressed in a ridiculous outfit. She's not turned to show her boobs and/or butt. Her head isn't cut off. Instead, she's standing looking powerful and active.

Absolutely marvelous cover.

Published by Orbit

Rating: 7/10

Cursed Moon (2014)

cursed-moonBook 2 in Prospero's War finds Kate Prospero and the MEA (as well as the BPD) trying to keep calm in a city in a magical uproar for the coming Blue Moon.

She is also struggling with her guilt over the events in the previous book, and her worry about her brother, who keeps showing an interest in magic.

I started this book awhile, but wasn't in the mood for it, so left it till later, which worked out quite well.

I still like Kate, even if I have concerns about the numbers of lies she is keeping from so many different people. (Which is why I particularly liked the end of the book.) And I also like the group she works with at the MEA, especially Mez and Morales.

"What do you know about him?"

I shot Morales a rueful glance. "How do you know it's not a girl?"

"Please, all the best monsters are dudes: Mothra, Godzilla, King Kong."

There is a great conversation between them after a particularly mortifying event that made me giggle, and I also liked how although that bit of smart ass eased the tension, it didn't make everything better.

It's a fun series, and although I wouldn't recommend jumping in here, if you're looking for a magic police procedural, you might look into this series.

Published by Orbit

Rating: 7.5/10

Deadly Spells (2015)

deadly-spellsThis is (possibly) the conclusion to the Prospero's War series. There are other places the story could go from here, but the major story arc–with Kate coming to terms with her past and how she is going to let it affect and influence her present–is concluded.

The MEA is called in for an ugly murder in the cauldron, and not only does Kate know who the victim is, but the officer in charge of the scene is playing political games with jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, at home Kate has to deal with a teenager who, although she is letting him learn clean magic, is still a teenager.

One of the things I especially like is that Kate takes her guardianship of Danny very seriously, even having Baba move in with her so there is someone at home when she has to work late.

"All my cases are important, but not as important as Danny."

And she doesn't just say that, her actions reflect that, which makes things difficult at her job, but is also precisely what single parents have to do. I thought it was a realistic touch that one doesn't often see in fantasy (or even mysteries).

I also found Kate's date especially interesting.

"I just meant it's extremely attractive when a woman can take care of herself."

Harsh words sprang to my lips at the implied insult in his comment. Every woman I knew took care of herself just fine.

We also had mention of an item from an earlier book, "a truth serum that caused severe pain if we lied." That seems like how a truth serum would actually work, rather than the fancy forcing the truth kind of things, and almost seems like something doable, assuming there are biochemical reactions when a person lies.

Interesting anyway.

It wasn't clear if this was the conclusion to the series, but it certainly ended in a good place and a lot of resolution. If there are other books, I hope they're more like murder mysteries, where there's something new to investigate each book, which is a favorite form of mine anyway.

Published by Orbit

Rating: 7/10

Volatile Bonds (2017)

One of the things I like about kindle books is that you can mark typos and other errors and submit them. Does this information go anywhere? Probably not, but it makes me feel better.

The editing of this book was so bad that I didn't bother submitting errors, because I couldn't even figure out where to begin with some of them.

Of course, as I went to write this, I noticed there was no published listed on Amazon, nor could I find one in the book. So there is a lesson to you–you really cannot do without an editor. One of the reasons I didn't catch it is because the did a good job making the cover look like the previous three in the book. The model is different, but that's not unusual, and the font is similar enough that I thought it was the same as the previous book, and the feel of the cover is the same. So, good there.

I just wish they'd spent as much time editing the book as they did getting the cover right.

Kate Prospero has made sure her uncle–head of the Votive coven–is locked away in prison, but it seems like he's still managing to run things from there. In the meantime, she's still seconded to the Magical Enforcement Agency, trying to take down practitioners or dirty magic, and to keep what is on the streets relatively safe.

Plus, her younger brother, whom she has raised, still isn't happy in high school, although he is less miserable than he was. And her best friend still doesn't have a job. And she's sleeping with her partner (but it's not a relationship, just boinking).

Here's the thing about this book. I love the variety of characters. The members of the MEA belong to all kinds of categories, and it isn't a big deal–it's just presented as the way things are. Which is awesome. And I enjoy the world building–the world that is like ours, except with magic, and the consequences that would have.

Which is why it's so frustrating this book was all over the place. As I said, the editing was all but non-existent, so there were typos and tense errors and pronoun inconsistency all over the place. And the story needed tightened up as well. There weren't continuity errors, but weird things were emphasized and then kinda disappeared. Things were swept under the rug that should have been issues, and characters and organizations behaved in a way that didn't seem entirely consistent.

That said, I did enjoy catching up with the happenings in Babylon, and I still appreciate the difficulty that Kate has with raising her brother, and being a female law-enforcement agent. I just wish the book had gone through far more strenuous editing before being published. I get it that self-publishing is difficult, but that editing would have made this a much stronger book.

Published by the author

Rating: 5/10 (for editing issues)