It's ok urban fantasy.
Okay, I normally don't do this kind of posts but Curiosity Quills Press is one of my favourite publishers and I really enjoy reviewing their books. That's why I thought I might know some people who would also enjoy it.
They are now hosting an event to gain more reviewers in their mailing lists, and as a reward for just signing up you'll get three books of choice from their ebook catalogue. If you would PM me and allow me to tell them I sent you there, I also get three books (which be nice as I really like their books).
I did a quick check of my reading stats this year and so far this year I've read 29 of their books. That's almost 14% of what I've read this year!
I think they publish around 10 books a month, in all kinds of different genres. I've been on their reviewers list for a while now and I generally receive two emails a month (which I'm usually even looking forward to): one announcing new books that can be requested for review, and one invitation to join on one or more blog tours. What I really like is that you don't have to enter anything and it's just fine not to participate if you're busy or don't think you'll like the books.
Some of the books eventually make it up to Netgalley, but I noticed many do not.
Every time I mailed with the staff they have been really friendly, and even writing a negative review for a blog tour (I once wrote a two star review on a book that just wasn't for me and the response I got was just 'too bad, these things happen, hope you enjoy your next book better') is not a problem (which is something I find really important and which is why I'm really hesitant to enter other blog tours).
You can find more information on this event here.
Dorian Lake was the prime mover in Baltimore’s hex and charm market. He was very much in demand for bringing his own version of karmic justice (for a fee, of course) and very careful to make sure that his magic never strays across the moral line for his own soul - and to make sure the Presidium doesn’t pay too close attention
But that was 2 years ago. For the last 2 years he has let a lot go - and now he’s started paying attention again he roughly finds his position has been usurped. And he’s discovering this weakness just as he needs his power the most when his ex, Carmen comes asking for his help… because she’s sold her soul and the debt is coming due.
How far will Dorian delve into the darkness to try and pull her out?
In the early stages of this book I was dubious about Dorian’s character. He’s a smart arse. He’s arrogant. He runs his mouth. I generally want to slap him
Now I don’t mind snark. I love snark. I do so very much like banter. But it needs to have grounding, it needs to have basis and the character better be able to cash the cheques their mouth is writing. For me to like a character who is acting like “all that” then they better BE all that. For me to like a character eviscerating someone with their tongue, the person better deserve it and the situation better not be totally ridiculous
So I wasn’t exactly willing to run with Dorian’s banter (especially since it wasn’t especially witty). But hang in there - because it gets so much better. Because Dorian’s mouth is getting him in above his head - and because of that he grows. Dorian begins this book thinking he is the hottest of hot shit and he learns sharply that he’s not really
In a genre where we have a lot of badass protagonists who know it and a lot of characters who are badass and don’t realise it and have to stunningly realise how amazing they are, there are relatively few who get sharply taken down a peg or three.
This makes Dorian’s growth and progression kind of excellent. As he realises what has happened to him over the last couple of years, re-adapts to his new situation and the way the city has adapted and he quickly reassesses just how good a magician he is he has change a lot and quickly. On top of that he has some amazing moral progression as he becomes more and more desperate and finds himself trying to justify what he knows are unforgivable actions. It’s complex and difficult and really really well done - I love it as he agonises over this.
I can’t stress it enough, Dorian’s character growth and development in this book is excellent
On top of this we have a really nice magic system that is really well maintained. There’s a lot of detail into the world without a lot of clumsy info-dumping, the different magic systems are excellent and there’s some fascinating looks at the way souls work in this world. I also like the introduction of karma as a power source and how that, in turn, influences the magic he uses. I like it, I like it a lot.
There are a number of POC in this book and they’re… generally good. They occupy decent roles and there’s a level of personality to them. The down side is that even if they develop into more, their original “template” sounds like someone just checked out a big book of tropes. So we have a Big Black Samoan bodyguard who is big and menacing in a suit. We have a spicy, hot tempered, sexy Latina sex worker. Those are the two most prominent POC and they DO develop beyond those templates - but the initial casting, as it were, is dubious. We have a cunning, civilised bit slightly devious Middle Eastern character who is cunning but surprising. But there are a number of POC semi-minor characters as well, including Mama Clo, a Creole madam and very influential in Dorian and Carmen‘s life and some of Dorian’s tenants (including one Black woman who was noteworthy for the number of different boyfriends she has…). Again, a lot of characters of colour, but a lot of stereotypes but also some characterisation behind those stereotypes.
I received a free copy of The Curse Merchant from the publisher in return for an honest review.
I read book two before reading book one of this series but thankfully they kind of work on their own and reading them back to front didn't spoil my enjoyment at all.
The Curse Merchant really stands out as an impressive debut for J.P. Sloan. It's very well written and the plot is interesting and progresses at a nice steady pace. It did feel a little slow to start with but before long I was completely wrapped up in the story and turning those pages.
I liked how the world of hexes and charms worked in The Curse Merchant, the idea of them being worked with karma was a unique and refreshing approach. The characters were well fleshed out. I particularly enjoyed the character of Dorian, while I can't say I liked him much at the start, he grows on you, his wit and sarcasm made the book all the more enjoyable.
All in all it was a fun and enjoyable read and one that I would recommend.
Between the booklikes maintenance day and a catastrophe with my old reader, I haven't updated my device for a while. I meant to do this yesterday but I forgot.
These were recommended by Bookaneer:
And these from Lizzy Loves Books:
The Hellequin Chronicles (I found the first one in my library already, but I grabbed the rest of the series)
Thanks to Gregor Xane:
And last, but certainly not least, thanks to Bookstooge for
Any my TBR grows ever larger....