Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Series: Downside Ghosts #2
Published by Blackstone Audio
Published on: June 1, 2010
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 10 hrs, 56 mins
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For freewheeling ghost hunter Chess Putnam, finding herself near-fatally poisoned by a con psychic and then stopping a murderous ghost is just another day on the job. An agent for the Church of Real Truth, she investigates claims of harassment by the undead. 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 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.
My second trip into the world of Downside was a lot more satisfying than my first; this story focuses on Chess’ investigations rather than on her drug addiction which was my main beef with Unholy Ghosts. My frustrations over the heroine’s inability to think straight due to her addled state were somewhat alleviated in this installment so I was able to better appreciate the unique elements that this series has to offer. Unholy Magic still wasn’t a home run for me but I did enjoy it more than book one and expect this trend to continue as the story progresses which is all the incentive I need to see Chess’ tale through to the end.
After listening to two installments, I do believe that I am finally catching on to the DS lingo. It definitely took some getting used to at first but after spending hours immersed in Bahni Turpin’s narration I couldn’t help but notice that some of Kane’s slang words had found their way into my daily vocabulary, dig? I also think that this is one of those series’ that’s just better in audio; I have a sneaky suspicion that had I read the first book, I probably wouldn’t have made it to this one. The narrator does an outstanding job at bringing this tale to life; Chess can’t be an easy character to read, with her constant highs and lows, but Turpin successfully keeps pace with the heroine without even breaking a sweat.
The main plot revolves around sex magic, so, needless to say, there’s a lot of humping going on in this novel. By now you’re probably thinking sex = awesome, right? Sorry to disappoint, this is Urban Fantasy after all and there’s always a catch. Chess has a messed up past and an even more complicated present which makes her especially susceptible to this particular brand of magic. I really felt for her because Kane makes her reluctance believable and that’s a hard feat to accomplish in this type of situation. There are also a couple of very heart wrenching moments in Unholy Magic that added new levels of depth to the characters. I’m starting to view many of them in a different light and my opinions of the DS crew are beginning to change for the better.
I like that for once it’s the heroine that’s undeserving; Chess has to prove herself worthy of Terrible instead of the other way around. It’s an interesting variation on the typical romantic relationship development and I look forward to having Putnam convince both Terrible and myself of her merit. Speaking of which, at first I didn’t really see the appeal of Bump’s right-hand man; undoubtedly he’s an alpha male and pretty darned smexy but he’s still a thug! I love a bad boy just as much as the next girl but I’m not that shallow; my men need to have a bit more substance to them! For me, Terrible came out of the woodwork in this installment with a few interesting revelations and by demonstrating some real moxie. I’m not sure how I feel about these two as a couple yet but they are definitely growing on me as individuals.
There’s no shortage of action or emotional drama in Unholy Magic and the character development was superb. So far, Stacia Kane’s Downside series has received a 3-star, followed by this 4 from me; let’s see if City of Ghosts can earn a 5. I think it will.