Monday, September 6, 2010

Review: Unholy Magic

Book: Unholy Magic (Stacia Kane)
Stand-Alone or Series:  Series, Downside Ghosts #2
Pages: 360
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Description (From Goodreads):

For Chess Putnam, finding herself near-fatally poisoned by a con psychic and then stopping a murderous ghost is just another day on the job. As an agent of the Church of Real Truth, Chess must expose those looking to profit from the world’s unpleasant little poltergeist problem—humans filing false claims of hauntings—all while staving off any undead who really are looking for a kill. But Chess has been extra busy these days, coping with a new “celebrity” assignment while trying on her own time to help some desperate prostitutes.

Someone’s taking out the hookers of Downside in the most gruesome way, and Chess is sure the rumors that it’s the work of a ghost are way off base. But proving herself right means walking in the path of a maniac, not to mention standing between the two men in her life just as they—along with their ruthless employers—are moving closer to a catastrophic showdown. Someone is dealing in murder, sex, and the supernatural, and once again Chess finds herself right in the crossfire.
I read the first book in this series, Unholy Ghosts, about a month ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It took me awhile to get my hands on a copy of Unholy Magic - but was it ever worth the wait. Like the first book, Unholy Magic drags you head first into a dirty, gritty, dangerous world. This time around Chess gets pulled into investigating what appears to be a prostitute murdering ghost. In typical mystery fashion, our little detective of sorts, is also investigating another case simultaneously. Her second case is a debunking for the Church; a high profile one, but a debunking none the less. 

However, the real fun of this book is with the characters themselves. This is not to say the plot is weak, because it isn't; it is just that the characters are what kept my eyes glued to the pages. Chess has gotten herself in a real mess this time around. Somehow she has gotten herself right between the two competing drug lords; or their go-to men, to be exact. She finds herself carefully navigating her relationships with Terrible, her sort of best friend and Lex, her man-whore (well, he is). As you may have guessed, my loyalty lies with the former. If Chess would just be honest with herself, her loyalties also lie with Terrible, but she won't admit it. She is frightened of needing someone and therefore her relationship with Terrible is complicated to say the least. Romantic craziness ensues throughout the book, that's for sure.

But, Chess's faults are what make her such a likable character; at least in my opinion. She is not perfect; she makes mistakes - which makes her realistic. Strange as it sounds, I love the fact that she is a junkie. I have never seen a character quite like her before - she makes horrible life decisions and partakes in illegal activities, yet, evokes so much sympathy out of readers. I also find her world highly entertaining. Everything is described in such detail, it is incredible. I know next to nothing about drugs and seeing it through Chess's eyes is utterly addicting. 

Kane is still spot-on with her dialog. I know that some people find it hard to follow, but I think it is ingenious. I cannot think of anything worse than when characters don't match what is coming out of their mouths. Do you know what I mean? The majority of the characters in these books are street-people. They are drug dealers, prostitutes and people who work for the dealers - they are not going to talk like English majors.

All in all, I was enchanted with Unholy Magic. The storyline was strong, but the characters really drove this one out of the park for me. I am simply in love with Chess and my feelings for Terrible are even stronger. I have heard things start to look up for them in the third book, I certainly hope so!

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