Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts #4)

Stacia Kane

Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Publication Date: Mar 27, 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Netgalley

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

Goodreads Summary

I didn’t pick this seris up until the third book, City of Ghosts, was already out. I distinctly remember searching through my GR friend’s favorites lists, looking for something new to read. I was in the mood for something a little dark, a little gritty and almost everyone who recommended this series described the books using those exact words. It was meant to be. I originally thought the series was supposed to stop at three books, and I was thrilled when I found out that Stacia Kane would continue on with Chess’ story.

As as a Debunker for the Church, Chess has been assigned to some strange cases in her career. This is the first case, however, that she’s been given that now has the previous investigator on the run. But, whatever, Chess is a professional and is good at her job so she accepts the case. It isn’t until after she opens the file that she discovers the case is on the other side of town, in the heart of Slobag’s territory, the rival crime lord.

Meanwhile, Chess is summoned by her drug dealer, Bump (the Man in Charge over her part of town), to investigate an arson that took place in one of his supply buildings. This isn’t any ol’ arson though, since it covered up an even more sinister event – a ritual sacrifice. This kind of dark magic may not be her forte, but as Bump’s unofficial Churchwitch, she really has no choice but to say yes. Chess is getting hit from all sides as she pursues leads for both cases, and has frequent run ins with Lex which causes a bit of tension between her and Terrible. Not only because Lex is her former lover, but Bump has a snitch and Chess is very afraid Terrible might suspect her.

Chess isn’t your typical heroine. She’s a drug addict, and her level of self worth is non-existent. The only area where she has any confidence in her abilities is her work for the Church. She knows she’s a good witch, and she’s worked dang hard to be that way. While the majority of the book focuses on the mystery of her cases, it’s also about the growth of this one very flawed individual. Chess grew up in foster homes, and has never been loved before by anyone. She honestly feels like she doesn’t deserve it either. She and Terrible are trying to navigate this relationship, and she is consantly worried that the bottom will drop out, and Terrible will realize she is nothing and leave her. Being apart of a relationship for Chess isn’t easy, but I love her all the more for sticking it out and doing the best she can.

Chess’ character is one of the main attractions of the series for me. I never, in a million years, would have thought I’d come to care so much for a character like her. It’s a fascinating thing to be in her head. The self-loathing aside, the glimpse into what it must be like to be a drug addict is particularly interesting. She knows exactly how many pills she can take or lines she can snort before it becomes too much. I wonder where the author is going to take her addiction. Will Chess continue to use drugs as an escape, or will she continue to grow as a person and in her relationship with Terrible and kick the habit?

As a side note, I love how Terrible loves Chess despite the constant pill popping. I also love how Terrible wants her, not just her body or her witch talents. Mostly I just love Terrible. He’s so solid and strong and perfect for Chess.

My Summary: Stacia Kane doesn’t disappoint with Sacrificial Magic. I’m so happy to be back in the Downside world with Chess and Terrible. I love both of their characters, and I can’t help but hope for their happily ever after. Thankfully I have the next book already downloaded on my Kindle, so it won’t be such a long wait this time to find out what happens with them next!

My Rating: A+



  1. I just read the first book in this series last week! I don’t dare read your review because just skimming, I’m sure I’ll learn some things about what comes next in books 2 & 3. But the little I did glean got me excited about the next books.

  2. I don’t want to shock you too badly, but I have this series – I just haven’t read it yet. I bought the first three books when the 3rd one came out. I keep hearing how much everyone loves it and obviously this is a really good one too (I hear Terrible has porkchop sideburns?)judging by your glowing review.

    It only took me a weekend to tear through the Night Huntress series and you got me hooked so maybe if I took your series’ suggestions once a month… 😉

    • Surprisingly, I’m not shocked at all that you haven’t read this yet. 😉

      This should definitely be your next series to read. I honestly think you’d like the darker, grittier feel. I sense a marathon coming on! I may even participate, since reading this book made me want to go back and start them over again.

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