A bit of a diversion from the usual fair, J.P. Sloan is on the blog today with the first of The Dark Choir series, a dark urban fantasy title narrated by Neil Helegers. Please read on for my review of
The Curse Merchant
Since I don’t normally read or review darker themed titles, I was a bit worried, but Dorian is more snarky and disaffected, with a side serving of snob. He was born with a silver spoon and hasn’t lost the arrogance or tendency to look down his nose at EVERYONE else, but that just seemed to add to his rather conflicted role as protagonist. In fact, he can be (and usually is) an ass most of the time – with only one hard rule – he won’t deal in Netherwork, that magic that draws on all things evil for its power. For the past couple of years, he’s let everything slide: like most born to money and status, he’s not able to really deal with the downs in life: a breakup sent him into stasis – neglecting his business and friends and ruining lives in the process. But, all things change and the jumping off point for Dorian and this story is a gun to his head.
With the realization that he has inherited the Netherworks library – a collection of spell books in a cage, behind a locked door in a storage unit away from his home. He’s trying desperately to keep his foothold in the magic business on the clean side – with new competition and several allies that come from unexpected places as well as the emergence of enemies heretofore unknown, Dorian has plenty on his plate and his struggles with his own morality in doing all he can to help those who need it, without cracking the locks on the storage unit. With surprising changes and humanization to Dorian’s personality as things start to spiral into ever-impactful events – he’s developing a side that makes for an interesting set of new questions that can only be answered as his path continues.
Narration is provided by Neil Hellegers, and he captures the personality traits of Dorian that have to be experienced to understand. Utterly snarky in his retelling of his story, Hellegers manages to present the character with his blasé first going through the motions attitude with the snobbery and sarcasm, to the more definitive forward moving man he becomes. If I had one real niggle with the story it is that secondary characters are lacking in nuance and depth: few rose past stereotypical in their presentation. However, in hindsight, I do wonder if that lack of depth reflects Dorian’s innate standoffish nature and his superior attitude. An interesting start to a new series that keeps readers engaged with a freshly imagined protagonist and plenty of action and magic to enjoy.
Stars: 4 Narration 4 Story 4
Title: The Curse Merchant
Author: J.P. Sloan
Series: The Dark Choir #1
Genre: 18+ Read, Dark-theme, Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Neil Hellegers
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press, Tantor Audio
Published on: 23 May, 2017
Source: Tantor Audio
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 18 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦Audible ♦Tantor Audio
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.
A copy of this title was provided via Tantor Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.