Review: Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane ★★★★

Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book two in the Chess Putnam series
Publication Date: July 2010
ISBN: 978-0345515582
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★★

Summary

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.

REVIEW



Oh, Chess, what the hell are you doing, girlie

The main feeling I'm left with after finishing this book is despair at the pitiful decisions Chess makes. Usually, when a character makes such poor judgements I would chalk this up to her suffering from the surprisingly common condition of TSTL (too stupid to live) syndrome. An affliction that often affects Urban Fantasy heroines, forcing them to thrust headlong into dangerous situations or to make cringe-worthy decisions concerning their personal relationships . In Chess' case however, it felt to me more like she makes her decisions based on the belief that she doesn't deserve any better from life. Or rather, it's more like she lets others make decisions for her.

Take this Lex character, for example. In book one he has her kidnapped by his men and threatens and bribes her - not something that would inspire tender feelings in most people - but because he showed an attraction to her, and because she found him at least physically attractive, she allowed him to talk her into starting a casual, no-strings-attached, sexual relationship. Even though she feels nothing towards him.

On the other hand, there's Terrible. She has a sweet friendship with him; respects him, enjoys his company, and yet she won't even consider pursuing anything more with him because there's the chance that she could actually come to care for him. How messed up is that? And how utterly riveting is it to read about? Very, is my answer to that.

I did enjoy the ghostly plot for this one as well, although perhaps not as much as book one. Chess is a "Debunker" by profession. A Church witch with the ability to entrap and banish spirits. The Church, for reasons I'm not totally sure on, have pledged to provide monetary recompense for any families suffering from a haunting. A Debunker is sent to investigate claims of hauntings. A lot of these turn out to be hoaxes - attempts to try and fool the Church so as to receive the compensation money - but occasionally she encounters a genuine spirit and is then charged with dealing with it. Ghosts are sent back to "The City" (an underground dwelling for banished spirits), or in the case of particularly malevolent ghosts, to the Church's "jail". Chess seems to be very good at what she does. One of the strongest members of the Church magic-wise. It seems to be the one thing in her life she feels proud of.

The consequences of Chess' drug addiction become much more evident in this one when she is forced to go without for a period of time. This was very harrowing to read through. And when, after suffering all that, she went right back to it, I wanted to slap her silly. Her life is a total train-wreck, but one I just can't help watching.

Terrible discovers something about Chess in this book that causes an explosive reaction. It's really something to behold and I'm not sure what the future holds for the tentative yet compelling friendship they had started to build. I am really looking forward to the next book to found out.

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