Series: The Prospero's War #2
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Orbit on August 12, 2014
Reviewed by: Julia
References to prostitution, sex, and sex acts. Rape scenes.
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.
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.
The Prospero's War series inhabits a world where magic permeates the landscape of chemistry and pharmacology. With hints of allegory to our own reality's war on drugs, the fundamental difference is how those born with magical potential have an advantage when it comes to cooking, but no additional defenses against the powerful high such activity creates.
As an Adept trying to go cold turkey off cooking, Kate Prospero has all the hallmarks and emotions of an addict. This concept is introduced in book one, but the true focus of CURSED MOON is on her struggles with addiction and recovery. Guilt, anger, self-destructive behavior, Kate experiences it all. Though an understandable consequence of the events in DIRTY MAGIC, I didn't find Kate's emotional outbursts or self-righteousness to make for particularly good reading. I lost interest and patience for Kate's emotional issues early on in CURSED MOON, leaving the Batman-esque super villain, Dionysus, as the only element pulling me forward through the story. This guy escaped from a mental institution, personally mailed the police and his victims pretty much every piece of evidence used to catch him, and engages in all sorts of flamboyant criminal behavior, so his presence in the story really doesn't do anything to promote a "police procedural vibe" so much as a "when will he and the police stumble in to each other on a street corner" type deal.
But as much as I didn't like Kate's drama through out the book and just wanted Dionysus caught, these two issues completely switch places when it comes to end game satisfaction. Dionysus going down was a forgettable check mark, but Kate's growth at the conclusion was extremely satisfying (if a bit abrupt). Though CURSED MOON suffers from a lot of the same issues I had with DIRTY MAGIC, this series still seems to be building an upward trend. Here's hoping book three is the one that delivers.