Review for “Chasing Magic” by Stacia Kane
For all of you paranormal/urban fantasy lovers out there, if you haven’t tried the Downside Ghost series yet you are really missing out. I have fallen in love with the characters and world Stacia Kane has built and look forward to every new novel she releases. It makes me feel a bit guilty I haven’t mentioned this one before on the blog, but I’m making up for it now. As a little background on the series, since the review below is for the fifth book, I will explain the basic premise behind it.
The first book, Unholy Ghosts, begins approximately two decades after what was basically a ghost apocalypse (prior to this the earth was much like the one we know today). A horde of these long-departed spirits somehow infiltrated the mortal plane and wreaked total havoc back in that time. Many people died as a result and for a short time no one knew how to stop them. Eventually, a new kind of church (not the traditional kind) took over and helped the rid the world of the ghosts. Every so often, some do escape again and that is when trained employees of the church (known as witches) come along to banish them back. It’s a dangerous job, but at least it pays fairly well.
Chess Putnam is one of these witches and she has a high degree of skill at doing it. Like most Urban Fantasy heroines, she is a strong lead but she has issues. Unlike other series, hers aren’t exactly the normal kind you see in UF. Both her parents died back during the big ghost epidemic and she was raised in foster care where she was mistreated physically and sexually. The church eventually got her out of there after she tested high for magical aptitude, but the mental scars run deep. As a result, Chess does a lot of drugs and uses her steady paychecks from the church to pay for her habit. I’ll admit some people will be turned off by the idea of a drug using heroine, but I promise Stacia Kane handles it very well. There is no way to describe why it works, other than Chess does try to be a good and responsible person, but it really does. Throughout the series you’ll see her fall down and screw up, but she manages to pick herself back up again and learns lessons on the way. I love that she can be so flawed and still manage to help people and care about what happens to the world. She might be high most of the time, but she’s one tough chick!
My recommendation is to give the series a chance if you’re at least remotely interested in this genre.
Now for those who have been following it, but haven’t picked up the latest book that released in June, here is my review of it:
Chasing Magic is the fifth book in the Downside Series and kicks off with Chess facing a lot of the recurring problems seen from earlier books, as well as a couple new ones. She’s still not feeling all that worthy in her relationship with Trouble, which is exacerbating the difficulties between them. It doesn’t help that her sense of self-worth hasn’t improved much, maybe even gotten worse. Plus there is the usual drug habit that tends to get in the way. It makes for quite the emotional drama.
There are several external factors working against her as well. She has further repercussions to deal with from shooting the psychopomp to save Trouble back in Unholy Magic and they turn out to be even worse than expected. A new plot crops up dealing with magic laced speed. Something in it is making users go crazy so they run around killing people in Downside. Once again, Chase is called in to take care of it, but at least this time she has Trouble at her side for most of the novel so she isn’t quite as alone in her investigation as she usually is. And, of course, there is good old Lex right in the middle of it all, stirring up problems for her. This book goes for a wild ride.
I admit I could see the endgame of the bad guy in this one pretty early on. There were enough hints dropped at the beginning of the story to make it an easy guess, though I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t read the book. Despite this, I didn’t know who was behind it or the full scope of how they were doing it until much later in the novel. It mostly got to me that neither Chess or Trouble could catch on to it until it was spelled out for them. This didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book, but it did niggle at me. It was still a good plot I hadn’t considered as a possibility for this series before.
One big thing I can say is I enjoyed the relationship development that occurred as the story progressed. Chess was still full of self-doubt as to whether she deserved to be with Trouble, and this needed to be dealt with as it felt like it had gone on long enough. There is a point in the book where she nearly ruins everything, but this time she manages to be smart and hold on to what she has. I like that she and Trouble have finally strengthened their bond together and become more trusting, rather than continuing to sabotage themselves.
On the other hand, Chess is still extremely insecure. There is a lot of long narrative in this book, just like all the previous ones, where she continues to describe why she is worthless and a bad person. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone in real life who has done as much good as she has and still sees themselves in that poor of a light. It makes me want to reach out and shake some sense into her (which may be what the author intends me to feel). I’m not expecting a complete turnabout within a few pages, but this is the fifth book and it would be nice to see a stronger progression than what has actually occurred. To caveat this, I do think Chasing Magic ended on a note where there is hope for Chess to start down the right path in the next book.
Overall it was a another great addition to the series. I have my couple of complaints, but in no way regret reading this one. Stacia Kane has a way with words and can pull your emotions in a kaleidoscope of directions — all while ensuring you keep turning the pages to see what happens next. I’ll be picking up the next novel in the series without any hesitation. Four whips for this one!
For those who have not started the series, I’d recommend you go back to the beginning before grabbing this one. Should you need it, this is the reading order: