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Wednesday 25 March 2015

✍ The Curse Merchant: The Dark Choir [1] - J.P. Sloan

Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Published by Curiosity Quills Press
Number of pages: 256 
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ I really liked it
About the author

"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."

The Curse Merchant, as far as I can tell, is the first published novel by J.P. Sloan, and it is the first part of the Dark Choir series, which promises to comprise of six parts, made up by two trilogies: The Curse trilogy and the Dark trilogy.

The Dark Choir series follows the life of Dorian Lake, an hex and charms merchant who gets embroiled into the dark side of magic, despite his best efforts.

The publishers describe the series as follows:
"Down each dark alley, in the city basements, in the shadows of each building and monument lurks a host older than Mankind.  They feed on souls and suffering.  Throughout human history hermetic practitioners have attempted to harness their power, often to their own damnation.   It is said that the rocks and trees will cry out the praises of God… but in the center of the world there is a Dark Choir, full of time, whose song is the doom of Man. 
Baltimore socialite Dorian Lake was captured by the societies of hermetic practitioners at an early age.  He keeps his practice clean of Netherwork, the sinister arts that call upon infernal forces.  His world is filled with powerful enemies, both on the streets and in the seats of power.  Dorian’s wit and charisma keep him just safe enough to survive, but every day he plies his trade is a day closer to an inevitable confrontation with the Dark Choir.
That is indeed a very accurate synopsis of what this first book contains.

I absolutely loved this novel and devoured it.  I loved everything about it, and in particular I could not help but feel for Dorian - with his big mouth and best intentions.  I also loved the cover - I think it truly captured the essence of our protagonist.

The writing is captivating, as it introduces us to Dorian's world, a world of magic and high powered figures, and their links to politics.  An absolute page turner.

If you love well written urban fantasy this is a must.  I simply cannot wait to read the next chapter in Dorian's life - The Curse Servant - I am veritably hooked.

About the Author

J.P. Sloan is a speculative fiction author … primarily of urban fantasy, horror and several shades between. His writing explores the strangeness in that which is familiar, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, or only hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed.

A Louisiana native, Sloan relocated to the vineyards and cow pastures of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina, where he lives with his wife and son. During the day he commutes to the city of Baltimore, a setting which inspires much of his writing.

In his spare time, Sloan enjoys wine-making and homebrewing, and is a certified beer judge.

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