Book Review – Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane

by Maryse on April 2, 2012 · 8 comments

in Stacia Kane

Sacrificial Magic (Downside)
*slight spoiler alert* For those of you who haven’t yet read the series yet, check out my “series review” —> I have Terrible Fever – My Review of the Downside Ghosts Series by Stacia Kane. Do not read further below, as there may be *slight* spoilers as I backtrack  bit, and the fun in the series is the ongoing emotional drama and not knowing how it’s going to end up. I highly recommend reading the series, in order, to fully appreciate this book.
*end of spoiler alert*

So good to be back in Downside, and I want to announce. Terrible is still the ultimate bad-boy. Although that sounds too cute for him. That’s more Lex’s style. I wondered… was I going to be able to go full-on crazy over Terrible like I did over a year ago? It’s been awhile, and I’ve met many new book hunks since him. And considering he’s not a book hunk (in fact, he’s described as ugly early on in the series… although I just can’t see it), I really questioned if I would be over him, by now. I remembered how deep my adoration was for Terrible. How intense he was, how he made me swoon, even with his super rough edges, jaggy profile and weird Downside-speak. Terrible, no matter his “appearance” and his way of life, he was IT for me.

Seeing him was like being hit in the chest. Like something exploding inside her, a quick ravenous fire that made her shiver. So bright and so hot it still amazed her that no one else seemed to notice it, that every eye in the place didn’t turn to her while she went incandescent.

But… would this be a matter of “loin des yeux, loin du coeur” (french to english translation: Far from the eyes, far from the heart) or more like “Out of sight, out of mind”.

Or… would this be a case of “absence makes the heart grow fonder?”

I worried a bit. Like I said… there have been some serious bad-boy hunks in my reading past. Terrible was an early version, and this series isn’t considered “romance” (and Terrible and “romance” ummm… well, no. Not your typical romantic guy). But I still managed to swoon like crazy… reading some parts in super-slow motion. Backtracking. Reading them again. Absorbing every detail on a cellular level. *sigh* There is just something about him. His honest intensity, his integrity despite his lifestyle, his huge heart but so fragile despite his tough guy stance and exterior. Break it, though, and he will break yours back. HARD. As the heroine of this series keeps finding out. Eeeeeep! He’s made me cringe a few times (and so has she). Unfortunately, she can’t help herself when it comes to the two men in her life, and she keeps messing things up.

It grew exhausting waiting for the other shoe to drop that she wondered if she wasn’t trying to make it fall already.

Ahhhh well. Too bad for her, and more fun, emotional drama for me! And I’m a sucker for it!

But I swear it, guys. My heart stopped over and over again, when Terrible was on scene. Quiet, hulking, brooding and yet he always stole the show. And he shouldn’t be the type to steal the show. He’s not your usual heartbreaker (although plenty of Downside girls want him). He’s not your usual hero. In fact, his nemesis is. Lex. Gorgeous sexy Lexy, and Lex and all who know Lex, including Terrible and Chess, know this to be fact.

And you know what? Perhaps I might be doing a disservice to the book by focusing my review on the intense romantic drama and emotional angst in the heroine’s life. But I can’t help it. THAT is what keeps me coming back for more. That is what keeps me reading without putting it down. The angst!! That is the best way I can describe Chess and all things, Chess. All of them, beautiful on the inside, and even on the outside, each in their own way and yet struggling with deep scars. Both men in her life, living and leading a criminal lifestyle. Forced to do terrible jobs. And such is the way of life in Downside.

The real focus of the book (and the series)?

A Dystopian future where ghosts (mostly 99.9% all evil) have overrun the world, destroying lives and living, as it once it was. Forcing anyone with magical ability to work for the “Church” (a different kind of “church”) to trap and put the ghosts back in their place (the “City” which is sort of an underworld hell, I suppose) and continue doing so, to save humans. Life after death is bleak, in this series, my friends. Hard to get past, but just the emotional connection, and the tumultous lifestyle of the main characters is enough to keep me coming back for more.

I mean, it’s fiction, after all.

And while the “paranormal” aspect of the series is interesting enough (Chess, the heroine has a strong magic within her, and works for the Church to help control the “runaway” ghosts), it’s not that part that keeps me coming back for more. It’s who she is, her struggles (and boy is she a mess). Her past, and her very tentative future is what keeps me coming back. It’s the train wreck problem solving, in her own life, and those that are connected to her, that have intrigued me.

Her deductions, her flawed reasoning. Her occasional growth. Her near death experiences (and some I fear… will be self-induced). Her men. THAT is what captures me about this series. This is not light and fluffy, folks. It’s deep, and weird, but I like it. If you’re in the mood for something gritty, moody, dark and intoxicatingly emotional, THIS is for you!!!

What’s this one about, in particular? Hrm. Well… the “backstory” (or maybe it’s the “main story” but it’s not what I’ll remember). In fact I forget the majority of the “job” and resolution, in each book, so I’ll continue calling it the backstory.

The backstory is the mystery to solve. The bulk of the book and what Chess does, to solve it. In this one, rumors of a haunting in a local Downside school. She must find out if it’s a hoax or not, and as bodies are being discovered (obviously sacrificial/magical murders), she suspects that someone is calling a real ghost into action. Why? Who? What do they want? How to stop them.. and all that. Each book is like that. A mystery to solve that puts her in an immense amount of danger, a tons of magical and paranormal occurrences.

Four hours on the case, two of them spent doing research at Church, and she’d already survived a murder attempt. That didn’t bode well.

Scary stuff (and for me, often convoluted). I have a hard time with many of her magic/action scenes. I’ve said it before, and it still stands. I find the author’s magic scenes a bit hard to follow, and to envision. So much is going on, from all sides, described in detail, and yet… it just jumbles up into a paranormal debacle, as I read it. Though I get the gist of it, and that’s good enough for me. I simply find myself skimming these parts, to get to the good stuff.

And in the process of Chess solving the mystery, she always finds herself in-between opposing Downside gangs (who are seemingly also finding themselves affected by the ghosts at hand). Both needing her to work for them, both suspicious that she’s “working for the other side”. A dangerous place to be. And here’s the thing. The love of her life (Terrible) is an “enforcer” in one of the gangs. And another of her past lovers “Lex” is the son of the head guy in the other.

What. A. Mess. But Chess doesn’t always reason with logic. At least not when it comes to her personal life. She reasons with her heart (and yet she doesn’t trust her heart at all). She let’s her insecurities take over her life.

How the hell was it that she’d always been so comfortable with him before, but as soon as she’d realized she was in love with him, as soon as she told him that… she was nervous all the time?

Addled with drug addiction, her insecure and fragile self is already teetering, but with the aid of her drugs (which are supposed to help calm her nerves because of the whole ghost/magic powers thing), her thought processes (and her mouth) will often get her into very difficult situations. Instead of growing with the strength of those that love her (and some do, especially those that she loves the most), that very love, and her fear of it, of being hurt, oh… you guys. Again. What. A. Mess.

And… I didn’t think I’d have that “Terrible” magic again. But I was wrong.

As I mentioned to fellow readers:

“I’m on book #4 (Sacrificial Magic) and all I can say is OMG Chess is such a mess!!!! I was so sure this book, relationship wise, had the potential to possibly get boring or, too maybe not boring… but too easy, considering the amazing ending of book #3.

But… what. Was. I. Thinking?? Of COURSE NOT!!! Chess is such an emotional wreck, and with the help of her drugs, her decision making, her choices, and her reasoning. Well…

The “Terrible” issues continue. And I’m embarrassed to say… I LOVE IT!!. I’m pining again just like I was in book 2 & 3.”

I’m gonna give this one 4 stars. 3.5 stars for the overall story of the book. 4.5 stars for the personal side of the book.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Penny April 2, 2012 at 7:31 PM

You are so right, the disaster du jour in each book
is second to the relationship between Terrible and Chess. I’m ready for more and luckily its coming before the end of the year isnt it?

Maryse April 2, 2012 at 7:35 PM

I think it’s next month, Penny. *squee*

Penny April 2, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Wow, that soon? Yay!!!

Kristina T. April 3, 2012 at 12:32 AM

Woot! I didn’t realize book 5 will be out next month. Thank freakin’ goodness cus I didn’t want to have to wait another year (forgetting some of the previous plots) & backtrack all over again. I like this series bc of its unusual nature but I think you hit the nail on the head Maryse. The ghost/mystery solving/magic/church stuff is kinda hard to follow at times. I usually skim through it till I get to the LexChessTerrible parts of the book lol. I found Chess frustrating at times but then realized that her problems are not that simple.. they are consuming & then I found her more forgiving. Hopefully Chess & Terrible progress but I am really interested to see how the Lex storyline unfolds.. :)

Terttu April 3, 2012 at 4:32 AM

I love this series.Just.Love.It. Can’t wait for the next one.

Whitney April 3, 2012 at 11:38 AM

I completely agree with you all. I LOVED this book for the progress Chess made within herself. Personally I think this plotline was the most confusing to follow yet. I wish a few more things had been outlined, however, the ending left it so that the next book should be very exciting.

Yvette April 3, 2012 at 2:12 PM

I actually loved this one — for all of the reasons you mentioned. Now that things have changed, I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I did get a bit excited about the possibility of a new Chess, but didn’t know how it would fit into the story. Chess always makes bad decisions — most always! I guess that is why we love her and keep coming back for me. 5 stars from me!

Maryse April 3, 2012 at 3:55 PM

That end was quite something wasn’t it, though? Loved it, but for obvious reasons… could not discuss it. But.. WOW! LOL!

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