The Curse Servant by J. P. Sloan
Publisher’s Description: A regular life isn’t in the cards for Dorian Lake, but with his charm-crafting business invigorated, and the prospect of a serious relationship within his grasp, life is closer to normal than Dorian could ever expect. In the heat of the Baltimore mayoral campaign, Dorian has managed to balance his arrangements with Deputy Mayor Julian Bright with his search to find his lost soul. Dorian soon learns of a Netherworker, the head of a dangerous West Coast cabal, who might be able to find and return his soul. The price? Just one curse.
Sounds easy… but nothing ever is for Dorian. A dark presence arrives in the city, hell-bent on finding Dorian’s soul first. Innocents are caught in the crossfire, and Dorian finds it harder to keep his commitments to Bright. When the fight gets personal, and the entity hits too close to home, Dorian must rely on those he trusts the least to save the ones he loves. As he tests the limits of his hermetic skills to defeat this new enemy, will Dorian lose his one chance to avoid damnation?
Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!).
Yes, I do like it much better than the first book; and, I have figured out why, too. In the first book, Dorian is out of control. I don’t like out of control – it makes me nervous. I don’t like Carmen – the butt head – because she is a whiny toad who EXPECTS Dorian to get her out of the jam that she created. Entitlement and lack of control – two things with which I have trouble.
Out of control? Hmm… Yeah, I see that. I like that part, though. That first part where neither Dorian nor the reader don’t know what happened to him two years ago is terribly exciting for me! Book Two is more straightforward, and while still good, doesn’t give me the same sense of excited anticipation.
Yeah, I’m rather happy that Julian and Dorian are going into business together. I didn’t like Julian at first, but he grew on me. I really like Wren and Edgar’s kids, particularly that Dorian gets to babysit them and he doesn’t freak out. What do you think of the whole Netherworking business?
I want to see more of the regular charms and hexes Dorian makes, but I think he should stay away from Netherwork. He won’t, though, I’m sure, or there wouldn’t be much of a story.
Nervous Nellie says… from our beloved Wren: “I didn’t want to go, but he reminded me that you were in charge of the kids, and I figured ‘Hell, they’re either bleeding to death or summoning a demon.’
Main characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Dorian Lake was a putz in the first book, but this time around he’s really getting things together. His life was totally out of control in the first book, which made me feel out of control. I realize that that’s the whole world building concept but it still made me uncomfortable. Ok, enough hashing of the first book. Dorian is really a good guy even though he was taught in a craft by a not so good guy. It seems like everyone is watching this poor guy. He makes mistakes, but he tries really hard.
Other characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Wren, Edgar and the kids are awesome. You can’t help but like Ches. Ches is a barista that Dorian just met and likes. It’s kind of confusing at first because there was no explanation, just a mention of “Ches” and I had to text Ivana and ask her “Who the hell is Ches?!” She indulged my “need to know” so I could move on with the story. Gillette was a tough as leather practitioner that has obviously been burned by others so much that she prefers to not get involved. Carmody is a conniving, self serving, double crossing jerk face of a practitioner. He so fits the profile of a bad guy that it was hard to keep from jumping to the conclusion that he had a part in the crap storm in which Dorian got stuck. Julian Bright was back again. I tried to not like the guy, but I just couldn’t. He’s got a charm about him that will endure through future books, I’m sure.
World: ♥ ♥ ♥ The world is a little sticky yet. It’s not as developed as I would like. It feels like I’m missing part of the scene when something magical occurs and then later I read it was a huge mistake. The Dark Choir could use a little more explaining, and so could the Presidium. I can’t decide if they are good guys or just idiotic politicians that turn the other way if something bad happens in order to cultivate benefits.
Story: ♥ ♥ ♥ .5 I really liked the story. It had a really good plot that a couple of good twists.
***SPOILER****Just a heads up, I had it figured out when I read about the blue Chrysler. I like that Julian is going into the bar business with Dorian. It fits with how I see Dorian, though I don’t have much confidence that Dorian can handle the business. Hence, Julian. I like that Julian is out of politics – it’s just not how I see him in my head. It feels like Julian should be more Dorian’s Handler.****END OF SPOILER****
Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ I know I will put author J.P. Sloan on my top series list of this year. I am looking forward to the next book. The author does a very good job of describing the scenes and the Druid Hill club really brought the images of old money and dirty politicians. It was fun!
Invested Ivana says…
Main characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Dorian Lake really is a good guy at heart. From the way he is putting everything on the line to help his friends and tenants to the way he deals with yet another not-so-nice girlfriend, one would never guess he is without his soul. This has me a little worried, actually. If the first three books of this series are supposed to be Dorian’s descent into darkness, as the author describes on his website, then the depth of the descent in the third book has to be astronomical. In this second installment, Dorian does open one of his mentor’s books to find a curse he’s agreed to cast, but in the end he doesn’t even have to use it! Please don’t read that as a negative, though, because I love Dorian. I’m just worried what the author is going to put him through in the third book.
Other characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ I really like that we get to see more of Wren and Edgar in this story, though sadly they are quite tortured. I like Ches, but I’m sorry Dorian can’t catch a break with girlfriends. I’m again surprised that Bright is such a good guy and hope we get to know more about him in future novels. We get to meet Brown and Wexler from the Presidium, but we still don’t really get much inside knowledge. From the hard-as-nails Gillette, we learn how suffocating the Presidium can be for practitioners, but maybe how civilizing their effect as well. Carmody is another dick practitioner serving the same role as Osterhaus does in the first novel. He, too, seems to get taken out a bit easy. And McHenry still being a pain in the ass, though he gets his in the end.
World: ♥ ♥ ♥ As readers, we get to witness more magic happening in this book. However, the rules of magic aren’t really explained to us; so, when Both Dorian and Ches make what seem like stupid mistakes, we have to be told they are mistakes after the fact rather than experience the dread that comes from really understanding the mistake. We do get a glimpse of what life is like with and without the Presidium, but still very little information on what the Presidium is about. I felt the lack of these two things more in this novel than the previous one – maybe because they are a bigger part of the novel or maybe because I had an expectation of learning more this time around.
Story: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Dorian’s quest for his soul get sidetracked in this book as he tries to do right by his tenants and his best friends’ child. He again puts the heat on McHenry, the corrupt real estate developer, which I love. This story wasn’t written quite as tight as the first one, but I still enjoyed it very much. The development of the relationship between Dorian, Edgar, Wren, and their kids was really the highlight of the book for me. I liked the new venture introduced at the end of the book, too, and hope that develops into something great.
Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Despite some things that could have been tighter in this installment of the series, I still really enjoyed it. Maybe it’s the writing, maybe it’s an attachment to Dorian, or maybe it’s just that the world is intriguing, but for some reason, I want to read more. I think Dorian, Edgar and family, Julian Bright, and even Ches are worth investing in and I want to see more of them.
Oh, and I just have to say, I LOVE the covers of this book and its predecessor. Check out the artists at Conzpiracy Digital Arts.
Our reviews in this series…
If you like this book…
Of course, read the first book, The Curse Merchant. You might also try Strange Magic by James A. Hunter. Both Hunter’s book and Sloan’s novels are reminiscent of the Dresden Files novels, so that would be a good choice if you haven’t read them. You might also try the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey.
A copy of this book was received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.