InReview by MC Meske: The Curse Merchant by JP Sloan

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press, A Division of Whampa, LLC, Reston, VA: 2014
ISBNs: 978-1-62007-550-0 (ebook); 978-1-62007-551-7 (paperback); 978-1-62007-552-4 (hardcover)
Genre: Fiction-Fantasy-Mystery
The Curse Merchant Book Cover

First, let me say that I was surprised to learn that this was novelist JP Sloan’s debut! The writing and the storyline seemed to come from a more seasoned author in my mind…it is a very well-penned book. I was further surprised for it to capture my attention so thoroughly, as the subject matter is not necessarily at the top of my list of favorites.

One more surprise: it was based in the Baltimore area…where I have recently relocated after spending the first 4 ½ decades of my life in the Midwest. Being nearby and therefore more able to picture the settings helped capture my attention as well.

A mystery novel that weaves an interplay of action and magic, once opened and in my view, kept me reading from start to finish in one day! I am now anxious for the next book in this series.

Dorian Lake is a seller of “hexes and charms for select clientele” in the Baltimore area. He tries to steer clear of the influences from dark magic, “Netherwork, as well as from providing client services in nearby DC. His attempt to stay on this formerly lucrative, well-worn, and proven path takes a down turn once he learns that the woman he once loved (and perhaps still loves) has sold her soul to his competition.

His former lover asks for Dorian’s help in getting her soul back from another local tradesman whose practice is deeply submerged in darkness. Dorian has only two weeks to help her regain possession of her soul, or it could be lost forever.

In order to bring her soul back to her, Dorian must submerge himself into a world full of deceit and evil. He must risk his own soul as well, all the while under the watchful eye of the Presidium, the policing arm of this world of magic.

Magic and its environment is not easily believable to most. Yet Sloan presents this story with characters, settings, and a language that makes every part you read seem as though it was really happening right in that moment in the world around you. Just one example of this is the use of exclusive clubs and the belief in mystical practices that are a strong part of the story—and they are a very visible part of our everyday lives.

The Curse Merchant is a well-written modern mystery novel that will appeal to a much broader audience, including even die-hard fans of the sci-fi fiction genre and the historical novel crowd. One of my favorite reads of the year, I give it 4 ½ stars out of 5.