Chasing Magic

Chasing Magic  - Stacia Kane ARC review, contains no spoilers but assumes familiarity with the series itself.

Chasing Magic is the fifth book in Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts series, and is easily one of my favorites so far. The war in Downside between Bump and Lex is very real now, after Slowbag's demise in the previous book, Sacrificial Magic. Chess is caught in the middle, still having ties with Lex for her seemingly never-ending drug use, and her newfound friendship with his sister Blue, yet on the down low developing a relationship with Terrrible. This leaves her constantly walking that line between Bump and Terrible and what it means for her to befriend both sides. Something incredibly nasty and morbid has come to Downside involving possessions and black magic in the form of the street drugs, and it's hitting both Bump and Lex's people. Add to the equation Chess's work as a Churchwitch and her relationship with Elder Griffin, and things get super duper tense.

I think it is very important to note how true to Chess's character Stacia Kane is remaining. An addict, is an addict, is an addict. And sadly, a majority of addicts have had some sort of abuse, specifically sexual in their backgrounds, talking real-life here. Chess has mostly never had a kind touch or a kind word in her entire life before Terrible. As frustrating as it is to watch, just because she has found love, love doesn't "fix" things overnight, and certainly not by the 5th book. The constant pill popping and bumps she takes to simply help her endure the day and the emotions that come with it can be brutal to follow. It can also have you wanting to slap her, and shake her out of her selfishness. The emptiness and loneliness she has spent so much time with is all still there, and her transformation is going to be slow. This is no doubt frustrating to witness, but in Sacrificial Magic, I saw indicators that change was coming for her. I believe in her and know that Stacia Kane is allowing her to grow and develop in her own time, just not as quickly as one might hope for a non drug-addled heroine. I keep waiting for her to have a huge breakthrough and make this epic change, but for Chess it is not that dramatic. Every tiny step counts, though. She has to learn that feelings are not all bad, and slowly want to be willing to quit masking them with drugs. Terrible is going to be there for her when she makes that decision, and I am most definitely going to be there to see it happen.

All that time, this was what she'd been scared of. And as she stood there looking into his eyes, seeing the dampness of hers echoed there, she understood - fully understood for the first time - that what she was truly afraid of was that if she could be happy, if she could love someone and be loved back, that meant maybe she wasn't as bad as she'd always thought. Maybe she was worth something, and if she was worth something, it might mean making some changes.

And boy does Lex have her number... He knows exactly what Chess's deal is, knows her insecurities and knows how to best play them to his advantage. He knows what Terrible's greatest weakness is, and as the new Boss, now that Slobag is gone, he is ready to move and eliminate Terrible from the equation. The thing that keeps Lex so entertaining, and frustrating, is just how much he enjoys toying with Chess. You want to be mad at him, but everything he says is at least somewhat true, and you just can't help but no like him. Same goes with Bump in Chasing Magic, he has some of the best dialog he has ever had in this one, and we really get to see more of him as well. But Lex... well, he throws a lot of really painful punches, and he hits some pretty significant marks.

"I love him, Lex."

"Aye, sure you do." His fingers brushed her cheek, slid into her hair to curl around the back of her neck. "Too bad it ain't in you to make that mean shit."

And then there is Terrible. Terrible, the truly magnificent hero in this series. The hero who doesn't say much, usually, but has an awful lot to say in Chasing Magic, and continued on with his legacy of stealing every scene he is in. This is one of my favorite Downside Ghosts books, because of the amount of time Terrible and Chess spend together, trying to solve this crime. There are some moments between the two that made my heart stop, and make me take a deep breathe. The intensity and depth of love Terrible has for Chess is heart aching, and Chess is finally willing to believe it and see it (albeit just barely). Addict and enabler, Bonnie & Clyde, these two were meant to be together, and they are simply one of my favorite couples to follow. At the end of Chasing Magic I caught myself fist bumping and going "Terrible and Chess 4EVER!!!!"...

"Shit. You so fuckin pretty, Chessie. True Thing. So... ain't even can breathe sometimes."

Chasing Magic is an intensely dramatic journey, that will have you biting your nails and gasping for breathe. It will make you feel uncomfortable at times, and make you sad, but will also make you super happy, too. Basically you will feel bipolar several times during the duration of this book, but it is such an awesome ride. Downside Ghosts continues to be one of the most unique Urban Fantasy series out there, in its rawness and grit, and seriously, I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT every time, and this is no exception. I am chomping at the bit for the next book in the series.