(Prospero's War #2)
Release: August 12, 2014
Links: Goodreads B&N
Summary: When a rare Blue Moon upsets the magical balance in the city, Detective Kate Prospero and her Magical Enforcement colleagues pitch in to help Babylon PD keep the peace. Between potions going haywire and everyone's emotions running high, every cop in the city is on edge. But the moon's impact is especially strong for Kate who's wrestling with guilt over falling off the magic wagon.Review: Dirty Magic (Prospero's War #1) is one of my favorite books from the last year (if you haven't read it yet, check out the giveaway at the bottom of the page) so Cursed Moon had some pretty big shoes to fill. I'm not blown away like I was with the first book, though some of that may be due to high expectations, but it's still a great addition to the series. It's just that it's a little bit broody and introspective and that slowed the pace down for me. Kate has a lot of pent up anxiety about the secrets she's keeping from her friends and colleagues and she deals with it by drinking and keeping her distance. Those closest to her are starting to notice the changes in her behavior and call her on it, which only makes the situation worse, since she can't explain herself without revealing her secrets. And that of course leads to even more brooding. I felt like Kate's guilty conscience got tiresome, but I was really happy with where she ended up once she worked through it.
After a rogue wizard steals dangerous potions from the local covens, Kate worries their suspect is building a dirty magic bomb. Her team must find the anarchist rogue before the covens catch him, and make sure they defuse the bomb before the Blue Moon deadline. Failure is never an option, but success will require Kate to come clean about her secrets.
In Dirty Magic, we learned that there are three different kinds of magic, blood, sex and alchemy, and three corresponding covens operating in the Cauldron. Cursed Moon introduces the sex magic coven, the Mystical Coven of the Sacred Orgasm (or the O's) and their leader Aphrodite Johnson. Aphrodite is one of those wonderful outrageous characters fans of Jaye Wells have come to expect from her and the coven's headquarters are sort of a combination corporate office/brothel. Seeing the priestesses at work brings back suppressed memories of Kate's dead mother, who was a member of the coven, and with them even more angst. But it also seems that there may be more to the story of her death that will play out later in the series.
Kate and the MEA are called to the coven's headquarters to investigate the theft of some potions which make users "sexually aggressive." The characters call them "rape potions" and that term squicks me out. When the potions are used (um, this might be a little spoiler, but I mention it because it might be a problem for some readers) there's a "sorority sex riot" where one of the incidents, two girls attacking a male student, is described in detail. The bacchanal, complete with a flute playing satyr, is also a trial run for the potion thief's big day.
"Men who dress as goats and gallivant through sex riots playing flutes tend not to be the most logical people."In a plot worthy of the Joker, complete with a threatening letter sent to the mayor, he plans to unleash the potions on the city on the night of the Blue Moon. There's also a second part of the plan that involves a more personal attack on Kate and I'm not sure I understand its purpose. There are still some unanswered questions at the end of the investigation, so I'm hoping it will all make sense eventually.
The case also forces Kate to finally go see her Uncle Abe in prison. In Kate's mind, it's a little like when Clarice goes to see Hannibal Lector and every word he says might be a test. He seems to be just as influential in coven politics as he was before he went to prison. And it's obvious he knows more than he's willing to say. John Volos is also still a major player in the Cauldron, although he plays a more peripheral role in this case. He continues to remind me of Trent Kalamack in the Hollows series. (Now he even has similar political aspirations.) Kate's reactions to him are also a lot like Rachel's in the early books where she kind of wants to hate him just on principle and doesn't really understand why she can't.
Between Kate's many allies turned adversaries, her partner Morales and the rest of the task force, this world is full of great characters. One of my favorite things about Dirty Magic was how realistic the world and those characters felt. With Cursed Moon, we seem to be taking a turn toward the fanciful. But since it's a world filled with magic, anything can happen. I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes us next.
Recommended for fans of: Paranormal police procedurals, The Hollows series