Let me start out saying that I really like this series, and I did enjoy this book a lot. I sneaked reading time when it was socially awkward for me to do so. I like the urban fantasy setting and the characters are a lot of fun. But (and this is a big but), this book includes some content that made me pretty uncomfortable and might be triggery to some readers, so I want to use a lot of this review to both warn you as well as discuss how rape and sexual assault were handled in the story. This review does contain brief descriptions of scenes in the book, so beware both spoilers and triggers.
The Blue Moon is approaching, and a rogue wizard who calls himself Dionysus is wreaking havoc on Babylon. Itâ€™s up to Kate Prospero and the other agents of the MEA squad to hunt him down before the moon turns full and all hell breaks loose on their city. Dionysus, as befits his namesake, wreaks said havoc in the form of spreading dirty magic potions to unsuspecting victims. Unfortunately most of these potions cause extreme sexual aggression.
Yeah. Rape potions.
To be honest, Iâ€™m not sure how I feel about the use of rape as a plot device in this. On one hand, it does fit with the Dionysus character/mythos, but on the other hand I didn’t feel like there was enough horror from Kate or the rest at its use as a weapon. Mass rape orgies are pretty horrific, and while I appreciate that she showed men can get raped too, it just didn’t seem like Kate as the POV character condemned it strongly enough. She thought it was wrong and that everyone involved were victims, not just the men. Butâ€¦ I donâ€™t know. Maybe itâ€™s my own personal vendetta against rape culture talking, but I wanted more from Kate than just a passing thought.
Kate’s reaction to getting hexed with the same rape potion didn’t feel right to me, either. I would have preferred some idea of how she felt violated. I guess that could just be something that Kate herself isn’t overly concerned with, but it felt like a flat reaction to me. Thatâ€™s not to say rape is dealt with flippantly in this book, but for me personally, the reaction just wasnâ€™t enough. Itâ€™s a difficult subject to use in fiction. Your mileage may vary, of course. But be warned, the rape orgy and another scene involving a sexually compromised murder are pretty graphic.
Iâ€™m glad Kate got over her internal conflict about using magic. To me as a reader, it seemed really obvious even early on that magic can be used for good, and while I understand that Kate thinks if she uses it for good, sheâ€™ll easily fall back into cooking dirty magic, going any further into the series than book 2 while keeping up that conflict would have been tiresome. Kate self-destructed pretty thoroughly before having her epiphany, and I did spend much of that time wanting to shake her. I understand with her history and her hang-ups that sort of self destruction had to happen for her to come out the other side, but Iâ€™m glad it happened in book 2 instead of having it dragged out over more of the series.
I really like this universe a lot, and I found myself once again sucked into the world. I like Kate (aside from the aforementioned gripes) and the diverse cast of supporting characters, and Iâ€™m looking forward to the next book in this series (which is due in March of 2015).