Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts, Book 2)
by Stacia Kane
Cover Artist: Juliana Kolesova
Review by Steve Sawicki
Del Rey Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345515582
Date: 06 July 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This is the second book in Stacia Kane's supernatural urban fantasy series. Chess Putnam, church witch, finds herself faced with pair of dilemmas. On the one hand there's the television star who has moved from Hollywood into an apparently haunted house and on the other there are the bodies that have begun to appear here and there, all marked and mostly all prostitutes.
Chess works one job for the church and the other for the drug dealer she owes favors to. Both jobs involve coming face to face with maniacs and, perhaps, murderous ghosts and either job could kill her in an instant. To make matters much worse she finds herself in the middle of secrets, her own and others, that directly effect her trust in others and others trust in her. How she is going to manage to solve both cases without losing everything is proving to be quite a dilemma.
This series is well written and Kane has filled in just enough background so you know what is going on without feeling smothered or dumped on. Her main character Chess is a very broken young woman, confused, a junky, and caught in a web of deceit and confusion. Needless to say this is not your mother's protagonist. Kane manages to move things along at a pretty good pace and works the pair of plots against each other in realistic ways. There are some twists and turns as you would expect and more than one emotional peak. You do not need to have read he first book to get what is going on in this one but if you haven't you probably will want to afterwards.
The only real issue I have with the series is the whole junky angle. I mean, Chess is supposed to be working for the church which contains all kinds of magic users and yet most of the time she is either way high or jonesing for a fix making it hard to believe that her employer would not have picked up on this by now. What, they don't do drug tests in this world? Other than that though this is a pretty solid series and it's an interesting world and Kane certainly knows how to put a plot through its paces. I would have no problem recommended this series as one of the better examples of the whole supernatural urban fantasy sub-genre. It's a good read and an interesting universe.