Michele Lee's Reviews > Unholy Magic

Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane
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Aug 02, 10

bookshelves: 2010, urban-fantasy, reviewed, favorites, signed-arc
Read from May 25 to 30, 2010

Downside book #2

I was given this book to review.


Chess Putnam lives in a hybrid punk-pseudo-Catholic world where ghosts are real, The Church rules everything and Chess can only be herself in the drug-laced gutter rock bars of Triumph City. So it's not actually Catholicism that has taken over (in fact all the religions we know today are archaic and illegal), but rather a domineering, completely ruling "Church" that came about when ghosts tore through the streets, killing everyone they could many years ago. Since then the Church (the one that rules the world) has taken over by protecting people from the murderous ghosts who still try to break free every so often.

The dark angle of universally murderous ghosts is a greater metaphor, especially in this second book in Kane's Downside series, since the books focus on Chess, who is a Debunker (and ghost banisher) for the Church, but who is also haunted by her vicious childhood and has become an addict just to deal the trauma of her past. Terrible, the right hand man to Chess' dealer, but an almost good-hearted guy, asks Chess for help when a series of hookers are found dead, and the witnesses say a ghost is to blame. Rival dealer Slobag, has been facing the same problem. With both sides ready to throw down as much as cooperate, Chess being bribed or blackmailed into loyalty to each side, the Church giving her a high profile, career making case and a ghost and witch team doing the unspeakable to the women of the street, all the pressure is on Chess, who just can't handle it.

Chess is a spiderweb of cracks, pieces of her slowly giving way to the pressure. Reading Unholy Magic is watching her breakdown, under the strain others put on her, and the tragedy of the ways she chooses to punish herself. Unholy Magic is not a pretty book. It's not an easy experience, but it is a viscerally emotional story. It's dark, at times outright lovely, a must read for those who read urban fantasy for a dark, psychologically twisted tinge to characters and world settings. Some of the best writing in speculative fiction today can be found here, with monumental world building, raw characters and a darkly surreal feel that's hard to find elsewhere. One for horror and dark fantasy fans, not lightweights, Unholy Magic is simply not to be missed.
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Reading Progress

05/27/2010 page 34
9.91%

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