Review: Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells

Posted September 10, 2014 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 35 Comments

Review: Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells
Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells
Series: The Prospero's War #2
Published by Orbit
Published on: August 12 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
One StarOne Star
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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.

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I mentioned in my review of Dirty Magic that I wasn’t a HUGE fan of Wells’ Sabina Kane series b/c CRASS, but that The Prospero’s War was off to a much more promising start . . .

I might have spoken too soon.

It’s been too long since I’ve read about Sabina, so I can’t remember if I found myself in the same situation that I am now, but I really feel torn. On the one hand, there is some AMAZINGLY insightful writing here, but on the other hand . . .

Call me a priss if you want, and you might even be right, but I have no desire to read things like:

“What’s your name, Lucky Charms?” Morales asked.

“Sean Patrick Finnegan-O’Lachlan.”

I blinked. “That’s a mouthful.”

“Aye, lass.” He motioned toward his crotch. “I’ll give ye a mouthful.”

Just ugh. ALSO—I really HATE the word “crotch.” HATE it. That’s just a peeve of mine, can’t help it, and the word “crotch” is used NINE TIMES in the book. A couple of times it was used in reference to something nonsexual, but mostly it was someone’s face in someone else’s crotch, with other accompanying words like “drool” and “wetness” that “glistened” and just GROSS MAN. The fact that one of the times it was used was when Kate had a flashback of walking in on her prostitute mother getting head from one of her johns, when Kate was a CHILD no less, only makes it worse.

And it was that kind of thing that pushed me over the edge.

Honestly there was really no way this installment could have gone well for me. The whole situation was one that pushes my peeve buttons . . . I’m not crazy about premises that are based on the loss of control—if some girl gets slipped a date rape drug and wakes up with no memory of the last 8 or 10 hours, it’s not going to be a hit with me.

Even less of a winner when the Bad Guy is determined to unleash a sexual aggression (RAPE) potion bomb in Chicago on the night of the blue moon, b/c lots-o-magic means bigger detonation area, and hey, just for fun, let’s have a few test runs beforehand to keep the cops on their toes. Test runs like drugging a few sorority houses so the girls run around Sorority Row ganging up on any male who is unlucky enough to be around, and ass-raping them.

This isn’t a spoiler, but the text is so graphic, that I’m not comfortable posting it without giving you fair warning. My main issue with this book wasn’t the lowbrow humor, it was this:

View Spoiler »

That’s just totally uncalled for. There are about a BILLION ways to communicate that scenario without being so completely horrific. Not that I’d be okay with it happening under any circumstances, but I could get passed it if it wasn’t shoved in my face in such an unignorable way. Maybe that’s the point. I don’t know. Don’t really care either—I don’t like it.

BUT . . . as awful as that was . . . it was only a small portion of the book. And so in true Jessica fashion, I was able to push through, refusing to dwell on it, so that 50 pages later, I barely recalled it at all, beyond a vague sense of discomfort. It wasn’t until I started going through my highlights that I really thought about it, and yes, that was the worst of it, but I’m not going to lie . . . the overall feel of this story is one where things like that are possible. There’s a kind of postmodern, in your face, life-sucks-and-then-you-die-so-deal-with-the-wretched-reality-of-your-existence cloud that hovers over this whole book. 

Some people really like that. And if the context in this situation hadn’t been sexual violation, I could have handled it. Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts is never going to be one of my Top 5 UF Series, but I like it. I’ve heard Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series is supremely dark and gritty too, so there’s definitely a market for this kind of book . . . I’m just not the target demographic.

But there were other problems as well.

It really annoyed me that Kate viewed herself as an addict and refused to use magic (despite her super, special snowflakeness in that area), but had no issue whatsoever with drinking her troubles away. FREQUENTLY. It struck me as very inconsistent with the kind of personality/determination that goes hand-in-hand with having the strength and willpower to not use magic for nearly 10 years.

Her obstinate refusal to use magic annoyed me even more. Actually, obstinate doesn’t begin to cover it. Is there a word that means remaining obstinate despite irrefutable evidence that you are WRONG? I looked and couldn’t find one. Someone needs to get on that, and whatever word they come up with—that’s what Kate is. She FINALLY has her Aha! moment near the end of the book, but by that point I was so over her nonsense that it barely registered.

And Pen. What was up with her? Kate’s awesomely awesome, understanding and wise bff suddenly morphs into super bitch for 90% of the book, and then just as inexplicably reverts back to her usual self?

So yeah . . . this book was flawed. But despite evidence to the contrary, I didn’t hate it. As I mentioned earlier, Wells is incredibly insightful in some of her observations, and when I wasn’t put off by the teenage boy non-humor, there was lots-o-funny times as well. I have higher hopes for the next book, b/c Kate finally seems to have stopped fighting the useless battle to not use her gift, and given that my graphic sexual violence issues were a result of this book’s plotline, I’m hopeful that it isn’t going to be a recurring theme. HOWEVER . . . if it is, then I am OUT.

I’d recommend this book to people who like darker and grittier UF series and who aren’t sensitive to sexual assault.

The Prospero’s War series:



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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.

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35 responses to “Review: Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells

  1. Dark and gritty and life-sucks-so-deal-with-it isn’t exactly my preferred reading material, cause all that darkness isn’t exactly what I look for when I read, even less when I read to not dwell on being negative about things myself.
    Add to that crass language and sexual assault themes… yeah, not interested on giving this one a try.
    Thanks for your very honest review, Jessica!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #59!!

  2. Yeah. I read that spoiler (because I can’t not do it when one is hidden from me!), and I’m going to take a pass on this one. That poor kid. I don’t handle books with rape well at all (not that anyone does, but I’d just rather avoid them altogether), so this is not the book for me! Thanks for the heads up Jessica:)

  3. I’m usually a spoiler avoider but dayum that’s pretty frickin’ colorful. I like dark and I like crass but I also have my own lines of what I’m willing to put up with… rape is rape is rape is rape and Wells has certainly turned it from its usual devices to another but that doesn’t make it something I want to read. No matter whom it is happening to.
    Rhianna recently posted…Blog Tour: BEAUTY’S BEAST [Review + giveaway!]

  4. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    This is the first really “meh” review I’ve seen for this book. I had high hopes for this series (but I haven’t started yet…soon!) and I think I’m still looking forward to it. I can understand how some of the things you mentioned can get to you though, especially if they’re pet peeves. It’s always such a turn off to read stuff like that, but it probably wouldn’t bother me as much.
    Mogsy recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday 09/10/2014

  5. Wow, I read the spoiler and that’s pretty in-your-face. I’ve read some pretty hard (terrible)things in say Moning’s books (rape of MacKayla) and well … it was terrible, BUT I knew she wrote it for a reason to demonstrate the awfulness of those creatures and as a larger part of the plot for the next book. Hmmm, I have both books on my Kindle and had such high hopes *sigh*

    Thanks for the thoughtful review, Jessica!

  6. Jess1

    Thanks for your thoughtful and honest review. This series was one that I was thinking about starting and now I will need to think about it.

  7. …Yikes. I have plans to start this series relatively soon, but it’s good to know that graphic sexual assault like that happens later on. Rape is my no. 1 book “no no” so I’m not entirely sure how that will go. But admittedly I liked the Sabina Kane series, so I’m going to give this a shot despite the fact that it sounds like this series may be too dark for me. Sorry it was such a let-down!
    Danya recently posted…Tough Traveling: Tyrants

  8. Bummer! I can deal with unpleasant and shocking situations in a book, but I never know how I’m going to feel about them ahead of time. I like dark, is not secret, but I don’t like gratuitous violence. I despite frustrating heroines that don’t act quick in their toes for the sake of stretching out a bad plot… I really don’t know if I could be excited about this one anymore. I can deal with a low rating because a reviewer didn’t like reading about certain subject…I hate any kind of manage in my books, I’m a one man one woman kind of girl, no matter how dark their story is, but frustrating actions from the heroine give me pause.
    Thanks Jessica.
    BTW, I really enjoy Downside Ghost and Miriam Black – But is someone tried to rape Miriam, she would CUT HIM!…LOL
    Lupdilup recently posted…Rusty Nailed Audiobook by Alice Clayton (Review)

  9. At least you gave it a read and a chance. Hope your next read is more to your liking! 🙂 Oh and you’re right, the CWendig books are darker/grittier than these, wouldn’t suggest them for you.

  10. LOL I hate the word crotch too, Jessica. And I’m going to agree with you that what you’re referring to as crass – well it might be okay in the right context. I also like the Downside Ghosts series. And there are several other non-UF series I can think of that are gritty and I like them. But if the context is wrong or doesn’t work? I might be a priss, too. 😉 I’m glad there was insightful writing for you to enjoy. I haven’t read anything from Wells yet – although she is on my tbr. You’ve given my something to think about before I decide to crack open one.
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…**Blog Tour Review & Giveaway ~ Beyond the Orange Moon ~ Adrienne Frances**