umUnholy Magic (Downside Ghosts #2) by Stacia Kane
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

ENEMIES DON’T NEED TO BE ALIVE TO BE DEADLY.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.

Time for more urban fantasy! I hope you’re all as excited as me, because I really love this series. I know I said that last time, but now, having read two of the books, I can say it definitively. I love Stacia Kane and Downside Ghosts. I loved Chess’s celebrity case and the utter weirdness of all involved. I loved Arden, the daughter of Chess’s wealthy clients. I noticed how Kane makes careful comparisons between Lex and Terrible, weighing their pros and cons, relating their abilities to those of Chess. The prostitute murders involve not only grisly death, but a creeping sense of foreboding, and also tempts the gangs to war. I think Chess is becoming a little more uncomfortable with her “arrangement” with Lex, though that has nothing to do with her actual drug habit, which she has no motivation to quit. I like her more for her drugs; they make her seem more human, more fallible, less sanctimonious than a lot of UF heroines.

I’m not going to talk much about the plot in this review; I find it’s hard not to spoil mysteries during the process. One thing I noticed about this one is how Kane is priming us for the Terrible/Chess relationship by really hitting us over the head with how wrong Lex is for Chess. He has not a lick of magical awareness, Chess states over and over that talking to Lex with clothes on is weird, how sleeping with Lex with clothes on is weird, basically that Chess knows this is a bad relationship but just isn’t thinking on it too hard. Since there are two more books after this one, I was pretty sure we were being set up for something pretty horrible in store for Chess and Terrible. I tried to steel myself as best I could.

And it was horrible when it came. Chess messes up in so many ways in this one that it was hard to concentrate on the story! She’s had a hard life and sort of fears love, and she just ruins things beyond all comprehension. She faces so many consequences that it was almost uncomfortable to read. The villains in this one used “sex magic” and just reading about Chess becoming aroused against her will made me so uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable in a bad way, but uncomfortable in a way that means the story got to me. I love it. I’ll be reading the next book ASAP, and I can’t recommend them enough. If you like urban fantasy, you’ll most likely love Chess Putnam!