For What It's Worth

Thursday, March 22, 2012

ARC Review: Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts #4) by Stacia Kane

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. ~ goodreads

Note: There are no spoilers for Sacrificial Magic but there are a few for the previous books in the series. IMO they must be read in order. You can read my review for the first three books in the series here.

Life…work... love... these things have never been easy for Chess Putnam. In Sacrificial Magic, the fourth book in the Downside Ghosts series, all three collide with shocking and often heartbreaking results.

It's hard to read about a character that struggles and f*cks up as much as Chess. This poor girl has had the worst of life thrown at her and she numbs the pain with drugs and self-destructive behavior. Kane has the herculean task of pushing us out of our comfort zone while still keeping us rooting for Chess. She accomplishes that task.

I was definitely pushed out my comfort zone in this book. Chess is working on yet another case for the Church with help from Lex, her ex- lover, while she battles her insecurities in her relationship with her current lover, Terrible. Just when Chess and Terrible take one giant leap forward they do something that makes them fall two steps back. I was really frustrated with Chess for a lot of this book but man the things she confronts are huge and ultimately she's growing as a character and I was proud of her.

There are several big ( and I mean BIG) developments on different fronts that all come to a head at the end of Sacrificial Magic. I would say that this book is a game changer. Chess will no longer be able to hang back and work for all the various sides - Lex, Bump, and the Church. She's going to have some tough choices to make. This couldn't come at a worse time for her since she's finally learning to let people show her some affection and realizes that she can have people in her life that don't want anything in return from her.

Out of all the ghosts and personal issues Chess has to face the thing that creeps me out the most continues to be the Church. I chafe at anything that requires that kind of blind loyalty. Chess still follows the Churches teachings without question. I'm really hoping that changes at some point.

Despite the physical & emotional turmoil Chess goes through in this book, I felt that Sacrificial Magic had a lot of lighter moments. Chess actually smiles a few times. I particularly love her new friendship with Beaulah, a woman she meets during the case she's working on. It's an interesting dynamic in Chess's mostly testosterone filled world.  I also enjoyed her conversations with Elder Griffin. Of course the big draw of this series for most people is the relationship between Chess & Terrible (& Lex?) but this is about the growth of Chess and adding these different types of relationships in her life helps her confront her issues from all sides.

As wonderful as the fantasy idea of falling in love with a guy and having that solve all our problems sounds, it's just that - a fantasy. Love does help and that relationship can give you the strength & support you need but it's never a magic fix and Stacia explores that even though it's painful to read at times. We want the fantasy. As they say it takes a village. Chess has a strange, wacky band of villagers as her support group but at least she's not on her own anymore.

Rating 3.5 out of 4 This is the most important book of the series IMO. It almost hurt to read at times but ultimately you will come out the other side smiling. I did have a hard time with the "downside speak" at first. Maybe it's been awhile since I had read the last book or maybe because Lex, Bump & Terrible were in this book more so the dialect was more prevalent but it took me some time to get the feel of it again.

Stacia Kane:  website | Twitter | Facebook
Source: Netgalley / Del Rey for my honest review
Buy the book!  Sacrificial Magic - Release date - March 27, 2012


  1. My favorite book in the series so far. It's amazing how Kane made me feel what Chess was feeling --especially that scene right in the middle of the book.

  2. Loved your review and I do agree with you that this was a big book for Chess. Yes I was smiling and love her band of villiagers.

  3. I just did not fall for book 1 :/ or book 2..or 3

    1. The series isn't for everyone that's for sure. I'm surprised you kept going!