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4.7 out of 5 stars15
4.7 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2012
I liked this book but I didn't think it was quite as good as the previous three, but then we are getting to the fourth book in the series! Kane's writing style and the plot are just as engrossing as usual, you can always count on the author to deliver a good, dark bit of gore to keep us up all night. Seriously, I was creeped out after reading this before bed, not a good idea for a wuss like me!
The whole book was a bit weird, I felt like I read it too quickly and missed bits but then when you think about it, the sheer amount of drugs Chess consumes kind of accounts for the strangeness. The leading lady is definitely a bit weaker this time around and completely paranoid that Terrible will leave her etc etc, it's because of this that her addiction is worse in this book. But we do learn more snippets about her childhood and her fears are reasonable enough considering.
I can't think of much else to write, the book is a good read and if you enjoyed the previous ones be sure to buy it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2012
After reading the downside trilogy I assumed that was that. Chess and Terrible were sorted. As sorted as a drug addicted church witch and drug baron's enforcer could be. I felt the story was done and there was some form of HEA for our hero/heroin. Then I hear more downside books on the way. Part of me is way hay! Fab! Love this world. The other part is thinking that means more relationship uncertainty, more drug abuse for Chess and struggling to make her two worlds co exist. After reading Sacrificial Magic I do recommend. There are a lot of similarities with the previous books in terms of plot structure. There is still the desire to shake Chess hard and hope she might sort herself out. But the language, story telling and characters are still great. if you liked the previous books you will enjoy this. I wasn't sure there were a lot of progression in terms of overall arc though it looks like Chess might have made a friend. Still looking forward to the next installment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2012
Had the first two books of this series sitting on my to be read pile for ages - then could have kicked myself when I started reading them - (but then I do love finding an author with a back catalogue) did not have long to wait for the 4th one - Sacrificial Magic the story flows from the last book - trials and tribulations we learn more about some of the other characters lives and who they are and slowly realise how doped up Chess is most of the time (even though we knew - if that makes sense) by others/their responses to situations at one point you were not sure she would make it! - very easy reading with the story unfolding and page turning to get to the end strong characters and world five stars from me. I hate it when they start the next books story when you know its not out for a long time !!! I have found kindle do that a lot. An author I will continue following.
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on 21 July 2013
** spoiler alert **

I absolutely love the downside ghosts series!
Chess and Terrible are a wonderful couple that I ache to see together always.

The thing that I love about Chess is that she is completely broken and messed up in many ways but she has a heart of gold really. She cares so deeply about doing the right thing and takes everything upon her shoulders. But she's not perfect. She's flawed, she has history, insecurities, and pain. She struggles to trust and to let Terrible in.
I relate to her, despite the drug addiction. She overthinks everything and she's just trying her best to get by whilst helping those in trouble.
Chess is a beautifully written character. I sympathise with her, want the best for her, understand her perspective, her heart. The drug addiction is a dirty unpleasant thing but in these books we see exactly what it means for Chess and why she needs it without it being in the least bit glamourised.
We see her grow through these books and this one is no exception. The choice she makes near the end is pivotal and represents Chess' acceptance that she is making something of herself. Something we as readers could see much earlier on.

The world building in downside ghosts is superb. It isn't ghosts tacked on to the world we already know. There is a history, background, new organisations and heirarchy. It transcends everything else too which you notice in this book with the school being a setting. The church and what happened to bring about church rule has affected all of life for the residents.

Essentially these books are urban fantasy/mystery and I love that combination. Especially when you throw in a smattering of romance.
I never know where the story is going and the action bits always get me on edge as I care so much about the characters.

And this is where I have my only problem with the series. I am probably a bit too emotionally invested in the characters. After book 3 it took me months to work up to reading this one. I just can't bear reading about bad things happening to Chess and Terrible, it's too distressing. The way this book ends makes it so clear that the next book will be hard to take.
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on 5 June 2013
So lets get down to downside
I'm going to start with the positives:

1. Chess and Terrible are hot there's no change there, their relationship is moving forward in tiny baby steps,chess is still a dark gritty heroine and i love that Chess is changing and letting Terrible in.

2.The gangster pill popping life surrounding Chesse's church witch (debunker)life is still as vivid and grimy as before, strangely enough I can't help but smile when Bump talks he's one mean and oddly funny drug lord.

3. Lex is still as evident in her life as always and i hope it stays that way, i may have a soft spot for the Son of Slobag
4. i really liked Lex's sister, she added a more feminine character to the story which was unexpectedly nice

Lets roll on to the things i didn't like:

1. I didn't like the schizo moments Chess had throughout the book, i know she had a traumatic up bringing she has trust issues but it didn't stop me cringing at her emotional outbursts, it was like watching a 14yr girl having a tantrum it was a real turn off.

2. Her job has begun to bore me, every case she works relates back to Bump and Slobag. Different ghost same plot, i found my self wanting to skip large chunks of her droning on about the job, when i already new it would be rapped up in a nice little "everything was connected" bow she's done it in her previous books, please change the story line already.

Saying this though, ive already bought the fifth in the series so i will read it. I just really hope the debunking is as thrilling and interesting as it was in the first book.
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Nothing prepares you for Stacia Kane's writing. One of the best urban fantasy series, Downside Ghosts grabs you from the first sentence, and does not let go until the very end. Even then relief is questionable.

It's heart-wrenching, so very gritty and full of characters who literally jump from the page. Chess herself and her lover Terrible, they are both very difficult, prickly and morally questionable main characters.

Terrible is a thug who maims, beats up and kills people for his mafia boss. However he's got history, he's got heart and he truly feels deeply for Chess.

Chess is a Church witch and ghosts debunker, but she is also a very damaged soul and a full time junkie. She literally can not function without this or that pill for every occassion. This addiction, and her horrible past both hangs over her like Damocle's sword and doesn't let her live and feel in full.

Stacia Kane made a huge gamble with Chess's character, and I think it truly paid off. We all feel for this girl, we really want her to sort her stuff out, we want her to keep living. Chess's head is a very dark, messed up place and she seems to be always on the edge between life and giving up living, and all we want for her is to be happy.

Plotwise the series is impeccable, but what spices everything up is Chess-Terrible-Lex dynamics.

Chess and Terrible is all about gut-wrenching, raw emotions, awkward conversations, sobs, blinding pain and just as blinding happiness... Lex has a completely different feel to him as Chess's ex-lover and son of a Chinese drug lord on the opposite crime turf. Lex is cunning, warm and flirty. If Terrible is a lion, Lex is a fox (Macchiavelli's references aside).

The book picks up a very fast pace from the beginning and does not slow down at all. Like all Stacia's books it's very creepy, full of gore and horrors, hauntings, magic and horrible acts of violence that only us people are capable of.

If you are a fan of horror, urban fantasy and ghosts this series is a MUST READ. I pretty much guarantee that you'd love it from the very first book.
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on 13 November 2012
Pill-popping, tattoo-twitching, ghost-busting witch, Chess Putnam is back in Stacia Kane's fourth Downside Ghosts novel. In the fantasy world of Downside - a sleazy ghetto in Kane's fictional city, Chess works for the government - The Church of Real Truth - who came to power when ghosts started attacking the living. The Church protects the population and reimburses those harassed by ghosts. False claims of hauntings are made in the hope of making a profit, and it's Chess' job to investigate and `Banish' the ghost. But keeping her little drug problem - as well as her involvement with two local crime lords - a secret from her bosses is becoming increasingly difficult and could prove to be a fatal mistake.

Chess has been assigned by The Church to find out if there really are murderous ghosts in a Downside school - if so they'll get compensation. But as usual it's not long before she's drawn into a murder mystery on both sides of the Downside divide and has to play a careful game between crime bosses Bump and Slobag.

Someone is sacrificing humans to gain power and Chess needs to find out who before they find her. Are the sacrificial murders linked to the school ghost? Why is Slobag's daughter so involved in the school? Is Chess being played? Who can she trust?

In the Downside Ghosts series Stacia Kane has created a great world, with sparkling dialogue and clever street patois. You can feel the sleaze ooze off every page, while Chess' emotions make you cringe and hurt for her. Chess is the classic dysfunctional character with a bad childhood: strong willed, a loner, an orphan - a bit like Eve Dallas in J.D Robb's In Death series.

At the heart of the book is Chess's relationship with Bump's henchman, Terrible. Chess doesn't feel she deserves a loving relationship and in one painful, drug fuelled scene she succeeds in pushing him away. But even in the world of Downside Ghosts love conquers all, and maybe, just maybe, Chess might start loving herself more in future books.

Stacia Kane is a great storyteller but she has to be very very careful about not falling into the trap of writing too much sex in the books because sex always seems to stop the narrative. Otherwise she could end up like Laurell K. Hamilton and lose the elements of great mystery storytelling.

All in all, Sacrificial Magic is a great emotional read. We are inside Chess's mind all the way, feeling what she feels. Sometimes it's torturous but in the end there is always hope - and Chess knows it in her own weird way. You don't need to have read the previous Downside Ghosts books, then, to enjoy Sacrificial Magic but you might well find yourself seeking them out afterwards.

I published this review in Starburst magazine too.
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on 16 April 2012
For those of you that enjoyed the sweet, emotional torture that was City of Ghosts, this is yet another roller coaster ride for the heart. Whether it's pounding in fear, or breaking in sympathy, this book was satisfying on pretty much every level.

Like with many other series, the Downside Ghosts, or Chess Putnam series if you prefer, has only improved with each book as we've learned more and tried to understand these incredibly complex characters. Because of the raw, damaged nature of our main character, Chess, you can never quite predict her reaction to situations. Whether her insecurities and paranoia stem from her drug use, or whether that's just a symptom of the bigger issues is up for your debate, and this series is definitely one that provides much food for thought.

If it's even possible, and frankly, before this book I wouldn't have said it was, I think I fell even more in love with Terrible this time around. He might think he's not good with words, or "with the explains" as he would say, but trust me when I say that what he comes out with is just fine by me! There were many squee-worthy scenes to be savoured. Terrible fans will not be disappointed in this instalment!

The ghostly plot was my favourite so far, I think. It was on a slightly smaller scale- contained mostly within the walls of a school over on Slobag's side of town- but it was very well executed and displayed Chess's strengths and gave her something to concentrate on rather than tying herself in knots about everything else that's going on.

For anyone that hasn't picked up this amazing series yet, or perhaps you've seen it floating around on peoples' shelves but have been put off by the fact that the MC is an addict, I have to implore you to reconsider. This is such an addictive (ha), compelling series. Like car-crash TV in a book, that smacks you right in the face with no apologies, you would really be missing out if you were to, um, judge it by its cover. (Did I really say that? Why yes. Yes I did)

And also, you know, it's got Terrible in it. Duh!

5 Stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2012
Couldn't put it down finished in one sitting. Love the concept and imagery. Chess is a sympathetic and believable character as is Terrible . Not your usual run of the mill urban fantasy. Reminds me very much of Lillith Saintcrows Jill Kismet series of books which are, in my opinion, the best.
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on 6 September 2013
Really enjoyed reading these books, the characters are well written and the storylines are good. I will buying more in the series as I am enjoying them. They are about a future when ghosts can come back and kill. The church has changed and uses magic to banish them back, and the main character is a church witch who pops pills and works reluctantly as a witch for drug dealers so she can get free pills. A great read for anyone who enjoys something with a twist. Recommend starting at the first book, which was on the free list when I got it.
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City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 3)
City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 3) by Stacia Kane (Paperback - 5 Aug. 2010)

Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts, Book 5)
Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts, Book 5) by Stacia Kane (Paperback - 2 Aug. 2012)

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