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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2014 J. P. Sloan (P)2017 Tantor

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A great idea that makes for a compelling novel

What if you could hire someone to help you get ahead in your business or get even with an unfaithful lover? What if that person used some potions, spells and a bit of magic? Dorian Lake sells hexes to help people with their various problems, and he’s quite good at it. He has always vowed to avoid the dark arts, instead pulling on a person’s own karmic propensities for success or love, just magnifying what is already there. There are few negative consequences to these simple charms.

Dorian’s enigmatic teacher had warned him of the dangers of netherwork, the dark arts, which scared him so thoroughly, he won’t even open the rare volumes of spells locked in its dark cage. When his ex-girlfriend begs him for help in getting her soul back from an unscrupulous netherworker, he must face his fears or watch her face certain damnation.

Dorian Lake is a complicated man, both charming and haunted. He can’t remember so many things in his life, almost like he lost two years. He’s descended into depression and drink and the results are not helping him at all. He moves through life in a fog even when he is forced to get back to work to help his former lover, and that work is going to get him into a lot of trouble.

The Curse Merchant is a thoroughly entertaining story, both realistic and magical. Political figures and businessmen use hex workers to further their careers. Some have even sold their souls to the get very special gifts that come with it. J.P. Sloan has created a completely normal world with magic in the background, sort of like buying a special tip for a winning stock or buying a charm to make one more attractive to the opposite sex. It’s just there, available to anyone who will pay for it, but little discussed openly. It is an interesting premise that works well in the world he has created.

The story is performed by Neil Hellegers. His slow dark delivery is haunting in its delivery. He is one of those distinctive performers who seems to have been born to read horror and the occult. He adds so much to the story, it is difficult to separate him from it. A dark mood permeates the tale and Dorian’s depression. His character voices are distinctive and appropriate, always easily distinguished. For this kind of story, it just doesn’t get better.

The Curse Merchant is a tale of magic in the modern world. It is just there under the surface of the banal ordinary world, special, yet available to whomever will pay for it. A great idea that makes for a compelling novel. It is the first in the series, wrapping up well, but leaving the listener hungry for the sequel. You just have to find out what happens to Dorian. Recommended.

Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful