|Title: Sacrificial Magic
Author: Stacia Kane
Series: Downside Ghosts #4
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reviewed by: Abigail
Several scenes of sensuality. One moderately graphic sex scene. Vague references to sexual abuse.
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.
Fans of the Downside series live for the emotionally devastating scenes between Chess and Terrible, the most unlikely and yet addictive couple in urban fantasy. Well find something to bite down on before reading SACRIFICIAL MAGIC and prepare to be gutted. Ms. Kane is going to rip your still beating heart from your chest and shred it. And then she’s going to douse it with gasoline and set it on fire. That’s the best way I can describe it, but it doesn’t come close to what actually happens in this book.
I listed a few similar titles to try if you like the Downside series (or if you already like the series below, then you should try Downside), but there really isn’t another series like this or another character like Chess (except maybe Cass from Sophie Littlefield’s Aftertime series). Chess wears her shame like a second skin. She can’t tear it away so she numbs it instead…with a lot of pills. Chess is such a trainwreck…so broken, so fragile beneath her untouchable exterior. I love and hate her. I want to punch and hug her. I want to know that she’s going to be okay somehow, but I also don’t want her to change at all. And Terrible…to be loved by a man like him would be about the most amazing/frightening thing ever.
Everything about the Downside series pulses with paranormal perfection, not the least of which is Downside itself. It’s like New York from Escape from New York overrun with murderous ghosts and deadly magic. Gritty doesn’t begin to describe it. There is a wonderful contrast between the residents of Downside with their slang/dialect way of talking, and the hyper formality of the Church of Real Truth, the ruling entity that protects humanity by magically banishing ghosts. Seriously, everything about this series is so finely nuanced and realistic, frighteningly so in some cases, but always intensely gripping. I can’t wait for my next Chess and Terrible hit when CHASING MAGIC is published on June 26, 2012.