Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane

rating (Downside Ghosts, Book #2)
Urban Fantasy


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.

The first book of the series was a bit hard for me to latch on to at first but I was slowly drawn into Chessie's unstable world and came to feel for the folks the author invented.

This second was even better.  Chess is a filled out character who is as flawed as they come - hopelessly addicted to drugs and her little pills that make the world melt away, caught between a rock and a hard place between two drug kingpins who want her to work on their sides, and now getting into all sorts of mess with a new client for the Church. Not fun stuff. She has her moody sign but she's mainly a sweet character, even if she makes some truly horrid, stupid mistakes. Egads.
I was particularly interested in the withdrawal episode, how powerfully gripping and tragic it was.
 It was nauseating and sympathetic - I'm so glad I never became addicted to that evil sort of stuff.
Terrible continues to be a character that draws my sympathies and I think Kane put in a great deal of emotion with the triangle that surfaces soon. He's not the typical love interest at all, but he's realistic and multi-layered, deep when at first glance he'd appear shallow. I loved their bonding and sweet moments, and then splat - eek, tragedy rises. Lex is also likeable but slimier in a cleaner way and I root for the Terrible ship personally. Here a big betrayal rears its ugly head - drama galore!

Plot-wise it was a goodie with just the right amount of unstable mystery for an Urban fantasy, and as before a kick-ass ending fight to wrap everything up. The ghost scene at the end was beyond creative and disturbing.

Sure, Chess isn't the typical heroine by far - she's into drugs, a lot of them, her casual sex without emotion is dirty, and the area she lives in is far from what I'm used to. Still, with the writers talented pen I'm able to emphasize with her situation, feel for her, understand her as much as I can, and enjoy reading about her adventures.

These books are incredibly character-driven, which is why they shine. The plots are intricate, detailed, dark and down to the dirt, but the characters are who make the reader care about the tale at all. Some of the stuff going down is still confusing with the ghosts, but it's becoming clearer now. Much more is revealed personally about Chess and her personal history, while Terrible and her relationship has settled into a firmer friendship than before. The tragedy of these characters is even clearer now than in the first novel.

Instead of Chess growing as a character into a  more positive direction, even by something as simple as setting a personal goal to improve, she gets worse. Because of the events of the preceding book, she's now getting her pills for free, enabling her to pop more and more. She craves them and has no ambition to ever stop, seeing it as impossible. This book illustrates even further why she is so down on herself, personally empty, and devoid of any hope for the future. She even fears the peace her beloved Church promises as a "Truth" once death strikes.

   Book Quotes:

“What the hell was the matter with these people? How did they not see that of all the people on the planet, she was probably the least qualified to help them with their emotional problems? It was like asking a dog to do algebra.” 

“She was here, and she was stronger than this, harder than this. They could make her hate herself, make her doubt herself, but they couldn’t take away her deepest instinct. Not just the need to survive, but the need to survive long enough and strong enough to tell them to go fuck themselves.”  

“When had being an addict gotten so fucking hard? So exhausting? It had been so easy for so long; she had a steady supply, she kept to herself, nobody bothered her. Now she was constantly up to her ears in intrigue and complications, being torn in every direction but her own, all thanks to her need for those pills”

   Book Itunes Playlist from Stacia Kane's Website:


  1. GARAGELAND by The Clash
  2. FULSOM PRISON BLUES by Johnny Cash
  3. WAVE OF MUTILATION* by The Pixies
  4. WE ARE THE ONE by The Avengers
  5. ACE OF SPADES by Motorhead
  6. DRUNK, TIRED, AND MEAN by Nine Pound Hammer
  7. RAISED IN THE CITY by The Replacements
Link to Spotify - UNHOLY MAGIC

   Deleted Scenes from Stacia Kane's Website:

LINK (Unholy Magic is the second of Deleted Scenes

   Reviews of the Series:

http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/city-of-ghosts-by-stacia-kane.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/chasing-magic-by-stacia-kane.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/sacrificial-magic-by-stacia-kane.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/unholy-ghosts-by-stacia-kane.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/unholy-magic-by-stacia-kane.html