Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Series: Downside Ghosts #2
Published by Blackstone Audio, Del Rey on July 6, 2010
Length: 10 hours 56 minutes
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.
My Initial Reaction…
Unholy Magic really picked up and I’m blown away by how much more I liked it than Unholy Ghosts. Geez could you wrench my heart around just a little more?! Gah! Stacia Kane sure knows how to do a number on those heart strings!
I can only reaffirm here what I wrote in my review of Unholy Ghosts, Bahni Turpin is flipping amazing! She’s right up there with Amanda Ronconi for me (my favorite narrator to date) – like her darker, more twisted sister or something, which is perfect for this darker and more twisted series. She makes the characters come to life and there’s no doubt in my mind that she made my emotional roller coaster that much more intense with the way she delivers the lines.
Chess is growing on me! I don’t think she’s changed that much between the two books, but rather, I’ve gotten to know her a lot better. And I left with a pit in my stomach, because I feel really sorry for her. She makes the dumbest decisions, whether it’s allowing herself to live in a constant drugged state – even when going into dangerous magical situations – or when it comes to her personal relationships – such as continuing to sleep with Lex, who kidnapped and threatened her in Unholy Ghosts and for whom she feels nothing, just because he keeps her supplied. I feel sorry for her, because she makes these dumb decisions, but she’s so clearly NOT dumb. She’s hiding from painful memories and a past that has severely damaged her own self-worth. She stays drugged (a problem that really comes to the fore when she’s forced to go without for too long) so she can forget and she makes bad decisions because she simply doesn’t seem to think she deserves better. But there are these truly great moments where the strong, intelligent Chess emerges and I found myself cheering for the kick ass chick she could be. Hell, she already is a lot of the time, while high! The hope that she will emerge and become that person as the series develops is one of the top reasons I will most definitely be continuing with this series.
Terrible is probably my number one reason for continuing…Oh good lord Unholy Magic and Terrible is one heart-wrenching moment after another! Again – he hasn’t changed much since Unholy Magic. Rather, Chess is getting to know him better, which means we do too. Chess and Terrible have an endearing friendship, complete with mutual respect. It is very maddening that Chess won’t even consider a relationship with him. Her interactions with Terrible were some of the main reasons my emotions flip-flopped around in Unholy Magic.
The other characters in Unholy Magic are incredibly well-written, no matter how short their appearance. Kane puts in all those details that makes every character complex and more real. As a character driven reader, this series is quickly becoming a favorite.
The plot for Unholy Magic was also much better for me than Unholy Ghosts. For one, the mystery was much more complex and less predictable. As a special assignment from the Church, Chess is sent to the home of a celebrity to either confirm a haunting or debunk it. From the start, it’s obvious something isn’t quite right there, but I was never sure what it was or who was responsible. Seeing Chess figure it out was great. I love the complexity of the magic in this world and Chess is very skilled at wielding it. She’s also just downright clever, something that comes to the fore as she solves this mystery (while I sat completely unable to discern where things were going).
Like Unholy Ghosts, Chess also has a mystery to solve on the streets. Someone has been using a ghost to kill off the prostitutes in Downside and gouge out their eyes. The descriptions made my arms crawl and gave me shivers! The tension was particularly high because while she’s working with Terrible on the mystery, this was a problem affecting ALL of Downside’s prostitutes, including those that run with Lex’s gang. This brought her divided loyalties to a fore and while it didn’t particularly make me a fan of Chess (since I adore Terrible), it sure made for great reading!
After having mixed feelings about Unholy Ghosts, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Unholy Magic. The character development has really exploded and the plot was much better. I’m eagerly looking forward to reading the next book!