Wicked Misery by Tracey Martin
Series: Miss Misery #1
Source: Personal shelf
It’s all quasi-legal fun until somebody gets framed for murder.
Miss Misery, Book 1
Jessica Moore thrives on misery. Literally. Thanks to a goblin’s curse, she gets a magical high from humanity’s suffering. A shameful talent like that could bury a girl in guilt, so to atone, she uses her dark power to hunt murderers, rapists and other scumbags—until one of them frames her for his crimes.
In desperation, Jessica seeks refuge with the one person she trusts to not turn her in—a satyr named Lucen. Like every member of his race, Lucen uses his lusty magic to control Boston’s human population, and Jessica isn’t immune to his power. But the murder victims belonged to a rival race, and when they discover Lucen is harboring Jessica, dodging the cops becomes the least of her problems.
With only five days to find the real killer, Jessica faces a danger far more serious than the brewing magical war. The danger of succumbing to Lucen’s molten seduction.
Product Warnings: Contains a heroine with a lust for misery, creepy murders, and creepier goblins, satyrs so hot you’d sell your soul for one, and scaly sewer rats masquerading as dragons. Who said magic was all sparkles and tiaras?
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I went on a mad Samhain publishing spree a few months ago and WICKED MISERY was one of the purchases. I wasn’t entirely certain about it but I though the concept was quite original so I figured I’d give it a shot. Overall, I did enjoy it. Here’s why.
Let’s start with my favourite part: Martin has created a very compelling world. People know about preds like satyrs, sylphs, furies, magi, and goblins, and humans aren’t overly fond of them. In fact, there’s a police force called the Gryphons consisting of humans with magical abilities. Jess, our lovely leading lady, was on track to become a Gryphon but her magic never matured in the expected way, so she was let go. Despite this, her abilities are quite strong, if unusual — she can feed on people’s negative emotions, especially misery. She’s turned it into an unlikely career path, as the Soul Swapper, trading with goblins to give them the souls of bad people in place of good people who made deals they can’t get out of. I’ve seen lots of books with empaths or people who thrive on misery but I think Martin’s created her own unique spin on the ability, which is awesome. I love it when an author can bring something original to the table, especially in genre fiction, which sometimes feels over saturated with sparkly vampires and broody werewolves.
Martin also does a great job with her cast of characters. Jess is a strong protagonist and she’s surrounded by compelling friends and enemies. Lucen is great. As a satyr, his magic is alluring to Jess but she doesn’t want to be an addict, which is what people hooked on any magics are called in WICKED MISERY. Most preds have addicts, which Jess finds disgusting. I’ll admit, it is a bit off-putting when you see how some folks use their humans but it makes sense in the world that Martin has created and it’s a very practical business arrangement for a lot of the characters. It adds an interesting dimension to the world, as do the pred communities that exist in Martin’s Boston, like Shadowtown.
Plot-wise, WICKED MISERY is also fairly strong. Jess is facing off with an unnamed foe who shares her ability who gets her accused of serial murder. This turns most of the world against her, and I’m definitely a sucker of seemingly unbeatable odds. I also really enjoy stories that have the countdown-to-doom element in them because it adds so much suspense to the story. WICKED MISERY didn’t feel super suspenseful to me in this respect, though, which was a bit disappointing. But Martin has created a well-paced novel with some surprising ups and downs so the loss isn’t too major, and may not be a big deal to other readers.
As I said at the start, I did enjoy WICKED MISERY. It’s my first dance with Martin’s work but I’ll definitely be back for WICKED MISERY’s sequel.