Stars: 4 out of 5.
This is everything the first book in a series should be. It has an engaging heroine, an interesting story that manages to get personal for said heroine. There is just enough worldbuilding to introduce the world and the main players, but we aren’t bashed in the head with infodumps.
The city of Babylon has a problem – a dirty magic problem. Think about the war on drugs and multiply it by ten, because the effects of dirty magic potions are mostly well-documented, but if a new one pops on the market, they can be quite unpredictable and even deadly. As Kate Prospero finds out one night on patrol when she has to confront what looks like a literal werewolf. But there are no such things as werewolves, right? Correct. It’s a new potion called Gray Wolf, and it’s a nasty one.
I really liked Kate as a character. And I loved her backstory. I can understand her hatred for dirty potions and those who cook them. She was one of them. She loved doing it to, discovering new recipes, letting others try them. And the consequences and side effects were somebody else’s problem… until those consequences hit very close to home. I understand her desire to cut herself from magic altogether, because she is afraid of relapsing into cooking again. And even though it complicates her life a lot in this book, and I really wanted to shout at her a few times because she was being pigheaded about it and putting the life of her loved ones in danger, I still understood her motives. That’s what I like about my protagonists – I don’t have to necessarily like them, but I have to understand what makes them tick.
I also liked that Kate isn’t a lone wolf or a woman-hater, like a lot of urban fantasy protagonists tend to be. She has a solid support system and a good female friend in Pam. And while her life is difficult, because with the same last name is a notorious coven leader and crime lord it’s hard to make an honest living, she tries to make the best of the hand she’d been dealt.
My only issue with this book is the main villain’s motivation. I understand what the original plan was and even what Bane wanted to gain by creating Gray Wolf. What I don’t understand is why he thought attacking Abe’s flesh and blood (and I’m not talking about Kate here) would be a good idea. I also don’t understand Abe’s motivation for going along with this. Surely, revenge wasn’t the only reason… I’m hoping to find out more in the next book in the series.
All in all though, I’m glad I finally gave this book a chance. I crossed another book off my TBR list and discovered another interesting urban fantasy series I wouldn’t mind continuing.