It’s a thin line between right and wrong. It’s an even thinner one between wrong and dead…
Terrible has always been on the wrong side of the law, living up to the only name anyone ever gave him. As the chief enforcer for Downside’s most powerful criminal, it’s his job to collect debts and protection money by any means necessary. And he’s very good at his job.
But part of that job is also to keep Bump’s various employees safe. So when a street dealer is found dead and a prostitute is brutally attacked, Terrible immediately starts using his fists to hunt down the ones responsible.
He’s determined to find and destroy them. They’re determined to use his desire for the woman he secretly loves to break him.
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy, Magic, Ghosts
Wow! If you've read the brilliant Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts series, and you are fan of Terrible, you will only love him more after this "novella." And by "novella," I mean almost-full-length novel. Terrible has been one of my favorite male characters in urban fantasy for years, and this book only bolsters his credibility as a leading man. If you thought you understood Terrible, you will find that you are mistaken. Kane takes an already beloved character and adds layers to his persona, allowing the reader to understand him on a more personal level. Terrible's thoughts and feelings about Bump, his job, his life, Chess, and most of all, himself, are studied in detail. Stacia hit this one out of the park, y'all, and I feel a Terrible Fever coming on!
Let's start with the cover. This is by far my favorite Downside Ghosts cover. It's artistic and the color palette is perfect for Downside. The cover shows important parts of this book - Terrible's arm, the well-known Chevelle and a whore in the midst of a magicked circle somewhere in Downside. It's a beautiful cover that captures what Downside looks like as I picture it in my mind.
This book takes place soon after the events of Unholy Ghosts. Terrible has only been working with Chess for a short while, but they have shared enough to have a sweet, yet oftentimes confusing, relationship. Remember, the events of Trickster's bar and one very fucked up Chess have already occurred. We get to read Terrible's reaction to that fateful night and it's heartbreaking.
Terrible is on the move in this book. Bump's men begin turning up dead, and his whores are being raped and attacked. Terrible is charged with solving this problem. A street man close to one of Bump's girls is giving Terrible a bad feeling and it's up to Terrible to prove without a doubt that this guy is bad news. Bump is the Lord of Downside, and Terrible is his chief enforcer. These are some bad dudes who will go to any length to protect the business. One thing that is made clear in this book is that Terrible and Bump both live by their own code - it's okay to dabble in drugs and whores, but fuck with a member of Bump's business, his family, and Terrible will hunt you down and kill you. Bump and Terrible are compassionate about the whores and what is happening to them.
Whores had secrets they never told men.
The bond between Terrible and Bump is also explored a bit more. Terrible would do anything for Bump. Bump gave Terrible safety and a purpose at a very young age. We hear glimpses of Terrible's past, including the introduction of a character named Darren, but we are left with a murky picture. Bad things happened to Terrible when he was a child - things that are alluded to but not fully fleshed out. I hope we get to hear more about Terrible and his childhood, however heartbreaking that might be, in future installments.
Which weren't bad, true thing. Aye, Bump weren't perfect, but so fucking what? Bump saved him. He wouldn't be alive if it weren't for Bump. Bump taught him everything he knew. Bump made him able to sleep at night. And he never forgot that.
It is clear that Terrible doesn't think very highly of himself. He says more than once that he's not very smart, and this seems to be something that bothers him quite a bit. However, we see in this book how intelligent Terrible really is. His thought processes and his investigative skills are showcased in this book and it is obvious that he is anything but stupid. Which begs the question - if Terrible thinks he's stupid when he's actually quite smart, then wouldn't that lead one to believe that he's not quite as ugly as he thinks he is? I love Terrible no matter what, but I think he doesn't give himself enough credit in any area.
Arrogance made people stupid. Being convinced they were smart made people stupid.
And to the part you've all been waiting for. Chess. She is not in a large portion of this book. This is Terrible's story, after all. She is felt throughout this entire story, though, in Terrible's thoughts. Chess makes a few appearances, including a scene at Terrible's apartment that had me squealing in Terrible delight. The big show in this book are Terrible's thoughts about his life and finding a partner, and how he feels about Chess. Terrible might be all tough guy on the outside, but when it comes to Chess, he is a gooey ball of sweet, lick-able candy. We find that Terrible had some pretty serious feeling for Chess very early on. We see the devastation he felt after the night at Trickster's, and we see how Chess' trust changes Terrible and his opinion of himself. I could really go on and on about the Terrible-Chess scenes, but you really need to read this for yourself.
Touching Chess made him feel like somebody shoved a live wire down his throat and electricity was sizzling through his whole body, but not causen of magic. Or not causen of that kind of magic. Were some other kind of magic did that. The kind a lot more dangerous, a lot fucking scarier. The kind nobody could just do a spell to get rid of, because she carried it around with her everywhere she went and it made her glow from the inside when he looked at her.
There are a few things in this book that offer foreshadowing to books that are already written. We learn something that I feel is very important about Terrible and the sex magic that Chess succumbs to Unholy Magic. I don't want to spoil it, but when you read this, please let me know your thoughts. We also learn how Terrible is looking for someone that is his equal in fighting. He says in WWD that he "wants a real match," which I think alludes to his what happens to Terrible in Chasing Magic. Stacia Kane makes it clear in this book that Terrible is left handed. I feel like it's important, but I can't think of why. If you have any theories on that, I'd love to hear them!
Stacia Kane is hands down my favorite author. I could read her books day in and day out and never tire of them. Downside is one of my favorite places in urban fantasy - with it's gritty, dark and haunted setting full of churchwitches, thugs and drugs, it is one of the best planned and vivid places in the genre. Stacia's Downspeech is perfect in this book. It brings such a texture and even a clarity to the characters. And the writing is beautiful. Kane is able to weave a multi-layered story with serious continuity and a twisty plot.
I am in love with Terrible and Downside so hard, I can barely breathe, to paraphrase a quote from this book. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of dark urban fantasy, damaged characters with shady pasts and ghost stories with a twist. I will be waiting impatiently as always for the next Downside Ghosts book.
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