June 19, 2014
REVIEW: Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts #4)
Published March 27, 2012
Publisher: Del Rey
Format: audiobook, purchased
Genre: adult paranormal romance/urban fantasy
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
Rating: 5 STARS
(From Goodreads) READING, WRITING, AND RAISING THE DEAD
When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.
Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.
As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.
I cannot get enough of Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts series. Each new book is more innovative, creative, emotional and impactful than the one before it. And, Terrible... I mean, what can I really say about this hero that comes close to doing him justice? Prepare for a bit of fangirling and babbling.
In Sacrificial Magic, Chess' newest case from the Church takes her back to school. A school in Slobag's territory has reported a haunting and, after the first debunker assigned to the case flakes and runs off, Elder Griffin passes it off to Chess. Unfortunately, that means she'll be spending lots of time on Lex's side of town, which is what she does NOT need now as she's trying to rebuild Terrible's trust in her. To make Chess' plate even fuller, there are other ritualistic murders being committed on Bump's side, and it looks like a snitch in his ranks is partially responsible, and Bump wants her to get to the bottom of it.
We've slowly had a picture of Chess and her past painted over the course of the last three books in the Downside Ghosts series. We know now that she was passed around from foster home to foster home, and horribly abused in most of them - mostly by the men. Chess has learned to rely only on herself and her pills and that has served her well. Until Terrible entered her life. Now, she's in love and while it should be a completely wonderful thing, it instead has heaped stress in spades upon her life.
Chess has to come to terms with the fact that she gives a crap about someone. She's never cared about anyone before. Not even herself. Hell - probably least of all herself. But, she loves Terrible fiercely, and Chess doesn't know what to do with all those feelings. She over-analyzes everything Terrible says and does to the point where it all gets twisted in her brain to some unrecognizable version of the truth. She second-guesses herself all the time. Should I tell him I love him? Should I touch him now? Would he want me to? Should I call him, or will that seem too needy? OMG - it was sad and painful to read how little credit Chess gives herself.
And, Terrible - man, I love him to pieces. But, the dude is not a conversationalist. And, honestly, sometimes I think he's not much better than Chess at all this relationship stuff. Together, they're like the blind leading the blind, and it makes for some seriously tense situations. Not to mention the fact that Terrible is still trying to come to terms with Chess' prior relationship with Lex and her ongoing friendship with him. Lex is always the elephant in the room. Chess and Terrible have some horrible fights and say some awful things to one another before they finally cut through the crap and are truly honest with one another. Those fights made my heart hurt. But, the making up... now that was one of my favorite parts. ;)
The thing that I think amazes me the most about these books is the flawlessness of the worldbuilding. I am in awe of Stacia Kane's storytelling abilities. She has made Downside explode to life with these vivid characters and interesting mythology. The Downside lingo is so awesome - it just adds to the complexity and seamlessness of the rest of the world.
In what I'm seeing is typical Downside fashion, Chess starts out working two separate cases - one for the Church and one for Bump - and somewhere along the way, she discovers they're connected. There were twists and turns and surprises along the way. I love being surprised, and it happens in every one of these books.
After the dust settles from the final showdown, it's clear that things are going to change in Downside. The real question is, how much, and how will it all affect Chess and Terrible? I know that currently there is one more book out - Chasing Magic. The best news ever appeared on Stacia Kane's website earlier this month - not only are Downside #6 AND #7 a go (!!!), but so is another Terrible novella (!!!!!!!!!!). OMG - that is the best news ever. I can't wait to find out if Chess can at least lessen her addiction to drugs and if she can pull herself out of her own head long enough to realize that Terrible and she are each others' end games. If you haven't started this dark urban fantasy series yet, you now have plenty of time to get all caught up before the story continues again. What are you waiting for?!