ARC Review: Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane

Posted June 25th, 2012 in book review / 12 comments

Chasing Magic

Book #5 of the Downside Ghosts Series

by Stacia Kane

Publisher: Del Rey (June 26, 2012)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 stars)

Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.

As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess—if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living. Goodreads

At a Glance
I am having trouble with this series overall. It’s like I can’t put it down half the time, and the other half I just want to throw the book across the room. I had to rate this book based on its entertainment value and likability for the majority. For me personally, I would have given it 3.5 stars, but I do believe it also deserved a 4 star in general. It makes sense in my head anyway. Let’s just say I have a love/hate relationship with the Downside Ghosts series and Chasing Magic.

The Good
The Downside of Downside…
First, Chess’s man is threatened by one of her friends. Then her mentor finds out some things about Chess that tests their friendship. And to make it even worse, her drug addiction is finally catching up to her. But that won’t stop her from using that addiction to help find the creator of the black magic-infused speed that is killing residents of Downside. While trying to maintain a relationship with Terrible and preventing a gang war, Chess has to find a way to beat someone who might just know more about dark magic than she does.

As a Series…
I actually read the Downside Ghosts books one after the other in a little over a week. I have to admit that this is the most unique series I have ever read. It’s dark and seedy. The supernatural element of ghosts and magic is refreshing. Though I don’t love every part of this series, I do like it enough to keep reading it.  

Just Terrible…
Chasing Magic is probably one of the better books in the series. The war between Terrible and Lex really comes to light. Lex starts to show his true colors and his true thoughts that he has been hiding with sarcasm and sexual magnetism. Terrible also decides to confront Chess on her lack of full allegiance to his side and commitment to their relationship. One of the best scenes by far in this series.

The Enigma That is Chess…
Chess is her same confused self. She is having trouble balancing a life with Terrible while maintaining friends with Lex. Her work life has even taken a hit as her relationship with her mentor, Elder Griffin, starts to change. Her drug use also comes into perspective. It’s almost like she is falling apart but is also becoming more whole at the same time.

She is definitely not like any other protagonist I have ever seen. She hates who she is, thinks she deserves nothing and it just hurts my heart. It’s hard to watch her love Terrible so much but almost sabotage their relationship with Lex on a regular basis.

Their Worst…
The gore and grit was just as good as the previous books. The dirty, seedy life of Downside becomes very evident and you can’t help but cringe sometimes at the world Kane has created. The language was as colorful as ever. But what I liked most about this book was that we got to see Terrible and Chess together more often. Their relationship goes to a whole other level. For fans rooting for the couple, you NEED to read this book. Chess and Terrible see each other at their worst this time around. A game changer for sure.

The bad guys stay hidden for most of the book but the final showdown was pretty good. The suspense, as always, was intense and the intrigue was abundant . My body was tense while I read this book. It’s so frustrating, fascinating, horrible, and shocking. A great mixture for a fun read.

The Bad
I have less and less respect for Chess as each book goes on. She is a horrible girlfriend, which I mention more in The Snuggly. She constantly talks about her love for Terrible but her actions show the opposite. This is a little bit of a spoiler: Lex threatens to have Terrible killed, in front of Chess and Terrible. Chess just stands there and says nothing. I don’t know about you but I’d be making a few threats myself if someone said that to my boyfriend, no matter if it was a friend or not.

Chess is also a weak character. Drugs run her life and she lets a relationship dictate the person she is. I prefer more independent, strong heroines. I don’t mind flaws, but Chess’s problems go further than just flaws. Also, the delf-deprecating attitude gets annoying real fast.

I also found the action slow. I think all the books in this series have slow action. It gets dragged out by her internal monologue and sometimes it’s just downright confusing.

The Snuggly
Boy, do we get some sex. Not a lot of sex, like in a romance. This is more about the sexual tension and the scenes being super freakin’ HOT!!! I almost had to look away because I know I was blushing, but then I realized I couldn’t read without actually looking at the book. And these sex scenes demand attention…just like Terrible demanded EVERYTHING from Chess.

The one thing that bothers me about the last few books is that Chess is a HORRIBLE girlfriend. I would have dumped her ass a long time ago if I was Terrible. It’s funny, in the beginning, I did not like Terrible. I thought he was childish. Now I am on team Terrible and off team Chess. I understand she feels she doesn’t deserve him–and I am starting to feel like she doesn’t–but the things she does in this book is just Wrong with a capital W.

This series is not for everyone. The main character is hard to root for sometimes. She is majorly flawed. But I can’t deny that the concept is good, the world is unique, and the majority of the characters are fascinating. I will follow this series to the end, but I doubt I will enjoy the whole journey. But I think that’s the point. It’s a little more like real life. It shows us how some people who look like they have it together almost rarely do. We all have secrets and behind closed doors we are damaged, even if just a little. A recommended read.

Downside Ghost Series:
Book #1: Unholy Ghosts
Book #2: Unholy Magic
Book #3: City of Ghosts
Book #4: Sacrifical Magic
Book #5: Chasing Magic

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12 Responses to “ARC Review: Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane”

  1. kerry

    I have read this one as well and I struggled with it, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish it at one point just because I didn’t buy that Chess was that stupid!!

    • Jennifer L. Bielman

      Yeah, I had a hard time rating this one. I went from 3 stars, to 3.5 stars, then finally caving and giving it 4 stars. I think I would have LOVED the book if I didn’t dislike Chess so much. But I really enjoy everyone else in the book, and the concept does fascinate me.

    • Jennifer L. Bielman

      LOL, yeah, I was blown away by some of the sex scenes in this series, not that there is a lot. I will be interested to see what you think of the series overall.

  2. Sarah (saz101)

    I’m… just… where do I start? I am SO intrigued by an addict MC, and Terrible, and this dark, seedy and dangerous world and… honestly, I never REALLY considered reading the series until now… but you’re is selling me, and I NEED some more UF in my life right now… and the… issues with the book sound kind of authentic? I love. AMAZING review! xx

  3. France

    It’s so hard to put into words just how incredible this book, and indeed, this whole series is, at least not without rehashing the entire story for you or including spoilers. The entire atmosphere of the Downside Ghosts series, with not only the entire Church/ghosts/churchwitch setup but also of the realities of life in Downside for all its good and all its evil just draws you into their world and refuses to let you go, long after the final words of the final chapter.

    What really makes this series, however, is Ms. Kane’s ability to make the reader actually care what happens to all of her characters. It’s not just Chess, and Terrible, and for some readers, Lex and Blue. It’s the Elders, Bump, even some of the minor characters that we meet in pipe rooms and back alleys. The intricate plots and multifaceted characters chew you up and spit you out, leaving you desperate for more.

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