Review: The Curse Merchant by J.P. Sloan

343202703 stars


Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian’s disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.

His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn’t be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian’s captivating ex-lover. After two years’ absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen’s affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation… with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

This is something that I picked up from a daily BookBub email, drawn in by the cover model’s stubble and fabulous looking hair. I just want to poke the guy’s hair, ok?
Funnily enough, this book isn’t sexy at all and that’s to its credit. This book is more of a supernatural thriller/action than anything else, as we uncover the mysterious forces at work in Baltimore while Dorian’s been taking some time away from business.

Dorian Lake is an interesting main character in that he has the magical ability to draw on karmic energy to create charms and hexes to sell on the free market, I wasn’t really able to lock on to him as a protagonist as he doesn’t seem to have very strong feelings about anything, very little depth of backstory and he manages to do some incredibly selfish things without remorse. There wasn’t much to endear him to me and so what was an amazing premise and story fell on its face somewhat for want of stronger characters.

What I love about urban fantasies is that magical things occur in the same world that we inhabit, this book didn’t disappoint in this regard – people know that magic exists and there’s even a hierarchy of practitioners and a governing body to keep everyone in line, though everyone seems to resent this governing body so it’s unclear whether or not they’re just bullies that enforce their own rules on everyone (ain’t that always the way?).
I would absolutely recommend this book for urban fantasy fans, especially those looking for something without romance taking over the entire plot. To me, this was something new and refreshing, though it didn’t have the characters to completely back it up.

6 thoughts on “Review: The Curse Merchant by J.P. Sloan

  1. LizScanlon says:

    OK, this sounds rather decent.. not a lot of romance, thrillery, etc… I do worry about the lack of characterisation though? I love a strong character who could be knitting and I’d be thriller but this one sounds a bit lacking in that department… don’t blame ou for going for it though, the cover is good indeed 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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