Monday, June 4, 2012

Early Review - Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts #5) by Stacia Kane

Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.

  • As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess—if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living.

    Downside Ghosts #5 ~ June 26, 2012 ~ Published by Del Rey

...looking up at the sky, pale and starless above the city's glow.  Chess looked up at it, too, at that blank stretch of cloudy gray covering the world like a sheet pulled over its head.  [The thought] of it made pain and loneliness twist in her chest.  Pain because she wasn't part of that sky, would never be a part of it, because it looked like a home she could never enter.  She'd never know what it was like to be so peaceful.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

Review:  Chasing Magic, the fifth installment of Stacia Kane's innovative and dark Downside Ghosts series is, in my opinion, the best book of the series to date.  Stacia Kane takes us along a dark and scary path, both externally and internally in regards to the characters.  And all those times I said that Terrible is just as vulnerable as, if not more so, than Chess?  Get ready for a big dose of Terrible love and vulnerability.  

One thing that is different in this book is that Chess is not working on a Church case, except for in the very beginning of this book.  She is becoming more comfortable in her relationship with Terrible, but she's still grasping for her drugs.  Unfortunately, Lex keeps dropping by Chess' apartment, even when Terrible is there.  Lex wants to chat with Terrible about a proposition.  When Terrible declines, Lex becomes my most hated person in Downside.  I've defended Lex for four books.  I've said that although he's not a good guy, that he really does care about Chess.  However, we see how ruthless Lex is in Chasing Magic when he attempts to coerce Terrible into working for him.  Even though Lex sees this as a business decision and nothing personal against Chess, it still angered me and made me change my opinion of him.

Chess makes some progress in her relationship with herself and with Terrible.  While trying to convince Lex to call off his orders, Chess finds herself in a very precarious situation.  She begins having self-doubting and self-hating thoughts, and even thinks that she is not worthy of Terible's love, or worth anything as a person.  There is a lot of darkness in Chess, and Terrible seems able to counteract that darkness and worthlessness that she feels.  As with my opening and closing quote in this review, Stacia Kane does a lovely job of using the sky as a metaphor for Chess and her vulnerabilities.  Kane uses the sky to portray Chess' demons, to show how she can face those demons with Terrible by her side, and how by the end, those demons don't appear as insurmountable as they once were.

She took his hand, and together they walked through the open double doors, back into the party, leaving the sky alone outside.  
Another thing I want to comment on is the way that Terrible seems to be replacing Chess' need for another high.  He is filling this unending chasm that she carries within her.  Chess seems to be coming to terms with her drug use as self-destructive.  After an emotional overdose, Chess sees the affect her habit is having on Terrible.  Terrible even goes as far as to ask Chess to only buy drugs off of him or Bump, to try to keep her safe.  Not once does Terrible ask her to stop, which is a good thing, because I think that Chess is going to have to come to this conclusion all on her own and without prodding.  

Warmth spread through her chest and up to her face, warmth that had nothing to do with pills or booze or anything else.  It was trust heating her up from the inside, making her feel like a real live person.

Terrible truly shows off the most vulnerable parts of himself in this book.  Stacia Kane makes it perfectly natural for an enforcer like Terrible to be so in touch with his feelings.  

"Shit.  You so fucking pretty, Chessie.  True thing.  So....ain't even can breathe sometimes."

Terrible is still attempting to cope with the problems he's been facing since Chess saved his life and carved the sigils into him.  Chess searches for a way to mitigate the effect of those sigils with the help of Elder Griffen.  Unfortunately, Elder Griffen discovers what Chess did to save Terrible in City of Ghosts and is extraordinarily unhappy with Chess and her reckless decisions.  The response from Elder Griffen wounds Chess deeply.  

Let's face it.  Chess had put Terrible through some pretty awful events in the past few books.  From infidelity, to drug overdoses, to withdrawal, to countless other missteps.  But one thing about Terrible - he's loyal to a fault.  This tension with Chess and her self-assessment is a driving force for Terrible in this book.  After the big mistake Chess makes with Lex, Terrible really and truly stakes his claim on Chess with a hot scene where the word, "mine," is mumbled.  Swoon! 

 Towards the end of the book, there is a very touching scene between Terrible and Chess, when neither of them knew if they were going to make it through the night alive.  Stacia Kane is masterful at writing raw emotion.  They briefly discuss dying, and it brought tears to my eyes.
"Don't want to.  An even if I did, ain't can leave you down there on your alones.  How I can do that one, aye?  Leave my Chessiebomb there without me.  'Specially knowing you scared on it."
This is the moment where things all fall into focus for Chess.  This is the point in the book where Chess begins to value herself, to trust, to chase away the loneliness and to love unconditionally. 

The remainder of this book is the epic showdown with both Chess' and Terrible's "big bad."  There are some close calls, on both accounts, and I was riveted while reading.  Stacia Kane has written a book that delves into the chaos that is Chess' dark and damaged soul.  Kane leaves us with hope that Chess will eventually come to terms with her past, and that Terrible will be along for the ride.  This is one of, if not the best, urban fantasy series out there right now.  It would be a shame for you to miss this epic story.

The sky that suddenly didn't look so lonely, the sky that was maybe....peaceful.  "Love you, Chessie," he murmered.  "Ain't never...Fuckin' love you, more-n anything."


Krista said...

AHHHH! I didn't read any of your review because I want absolutely no spoilers, but I am really excited that you gave it 5 stars! I can't wait for CM to come out!!!

Braine @ Talk Supe said...

I need to speed up my reading and catch ip. I'm plowing thru book 3, i'm working against reader's fatigue and i am hating it!

Amber I @ Awesomesauce said...

I loved this book. But I was soo soo mad at Chess during that bedroom scene. Oh and I loved the scene on the roof with her and Terrible. So many emotions. Great Review.

Addicted2Heroines said...

Won't read any reviews until after I finish this next week, but I did look at all of the quotes. Love them <3 Stacia Kane is the shit.

Jamie said...

Thanks, y'all! Stacia Kane is a rock star!

Alexa said...

Well I skimmed your review because I can't be spoiled since I have yet to read the third book!

I'm glad this one got 5 stars from you though!

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

Sounds like a great series. I like the idea of an urban fantasy and also the drug addiction angle.

Jennifer TheBookNympho said...

Awesome review! LOVE this series. Just finished up my review of CM yesterday. It was hard to not include spoilers.

Miss Vain's Paranormal Fantasy said...

I don't want to read your review yet since I need to write my review...but I'm sure it's awesome and I wanted to say hi!!;) xoxo

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