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ARC Review: Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane

Submitted by Doll Suz on June 21, 2012 – 10:42 am12 Comments

Title: Chasing Magic
Release: June 26, 2012
Series: Downside Ghosts #5
Reviewer: Suz
Source: ARC provided by publisher through Netgalley
Purchase: Book Depository | Diesel | BooksonBoard | B&N |


Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.

As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess—if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living.

This book made me insane.  Oh, it was surely a happy ride and I’d stand in line to go again, but it was without a doubt pure, emotional insanity.  I said, about the last book, that Stacia Kane had ridden me hard and put me away wet and it’s true here, too.  I feel like the junkie, coming back for more after being wrung out so hard, but I just can’t get enough of this series.  For a long time I thought book #3 in the series was my favorite but I do believe this one is now.  It might go down as the book I most love to hate in the series, too.  There was a lot of emotional dichotomy in this book for me, a lot of emotional extremes.

I’ve been standing up for Chess against the folks who knee-jerk react against her drug abuse since the beginning.  I’ve encouraged people to see beyond her drug use to the person behind it.  I have to own that I’m tired of her drug use and the self hatred and negative mind talk; and I just want to smack her, and shake her, and smack her again and scream in her face and tell her to grow the fuck up.  I’m sick and tired of being patient with her and watching her hover on the border of self-destruction and the annihilation of those around her who care about her (even though she’s so fucking great she always manages to pull it out).  There.  I said it.  I feel so much better.  I feel like I need to be going to Al-Anon meetings over my love of Chess.  My co-dependency has resurfaced and I am making excuses for a relationship whose chaos I would not tolerate in meat-life.  In short, I am completely sucked in!

So, by now you’re thinking that this book is nothing but negative, right?  I’ve made it sound as though it’s all bad and you don’t think you could possible stand to listen to Chess mind-fuck herself through it all?  Well, Chasing Magic is hands-down the most romantic, most action-packed, and most thrilling of all the books in the already superb Downside series.  If you opt out of this book just because I bitched about the stuff that’s driving me nuts with Chess then you’ll miss all the good stuff and there is so much of it that you’ll want to roll around in it like a cat in a patch of cat nip.  When I say “good” I don’t necessarily mean “feel good” but it’s good never the less.

We’ve never seen Terrible quite so tender or so effusive.  There are so many wonderful moments that if Terrible wasn’t on your romance top hits list before he will be after this book.  He’s also never been quite so adamant about putting his foot down and laying down some boundaries while still respecting Chess’ right to choose, and I say “about damned time!”

We’ve never gotten quite so much insight into Bump.  But I’ll let that unfold by itself.

I’ve always felt a dichotomy for Lex.  I empathized with people who liked him and thought he was charming and cared about Chess and understood that he was not to be trusted, but thought that because he cared about Chess he should be cut some slack.  Let me tell you that I read this book two months ago, I’ve had time for it to stew.  When I read this book I decided that I didn’t just hate Lex, I loathed him.  I waited to see if I would still hate him after it stewed for a while.  I still hate him.  You may not.  I do.  I didn’t hate him until this book, and that’s even after he again saved Chess’ life, and I hate him for a scene in this book that he spends with Chess – not for what he tries to do to Terrible (although that doesn’t put him on my fan-girl list, either).

Chess suffers a loss in this book that is very real and ongoing.  It’s something that she’ll have to deal with on a regular basis and it’s poignant and, in my estimation, very telling about how strong she really is.  It’s an extremely hurtful thing to her, but she rolls with it and finds a way to keep on keeping on even though it hurts.  It’s the kind of hurt all of us can relate to in one way or another, I think.

As I write this I have no word about whether or not there will be any more books in this series.  The last I heard there might be one more in the U.K. but there were no known plans for further publishing in the U.S.   According to Goodreads the paperback and Kindle publishing is Del Rey and the ebook is Random House Publishing (in case you might like to write an email expressing your support) although I have not been able to further verify any of this so please don’t hold me or anyone else to that and I am certainly not suggesting an email writing campaign.

All I know is that Downsides Ghosts is one of my most favorite urban fantasy series.  Even when I hate it, I love it and that’s a very difficult thing to get from me as I am not the sort of person who enjoys being teased.  I will watch with baited breath hoping that Stacia Kane finds a way to continue publishing whether it be through conventional publishing methods or not.  As long as there is more to read in this series I will be there with bells on to read it, particularly if it’s half as good as Chasing Magic.

And with one final shot let me now thank Stacia Kane personally for never having written a cliff hanger in this series.  Few things make me feel more respected by an author and this is at the top of my all time favorites list.


Suz has a grown son, two grandsons, a degree in graphic design and loves both computer and studio fine arts. She reads a lot. She's not very good at diplomacy, most people find her abrasive. She grew up cutting her teeth on high fantasy (and low?) ala Anne McCaffrey and science fiction ala Robert Heinlein. She's gone through bouts of Stephen King and the like being her focus, too. But for several years now she's been stuck in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. She must admit that she is most often scornful of the Paranormal Romance, constantly hoping to find that rare offering that breaks the tropes and molds but cynical and a bit condescending if she doesn't find it. If you see that from her, it means she was too hopeful for the book and ended up disappointed, not scornful of the genre.
Doll Suz
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  • Karen says:

    This one of those series that is so so so frustrating but in the best way possible. I have this one from Netgalley and I plan on reading it this weekend.
    Awesome review.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:


      I agree with you statement completely. I spent a good deal of this book angry, at least at first. I haven’t been this short tempered with characters, especially characters that I love, in a very long time. Of course then the storyline progressed and I felt like an ass for being so short tempered. Then Kane inevitably brought me back full circle to my truth for the series and the characters.

      I am not prone to emotional effusiveness in general. There are some in my life who would even accuse me of being somewhat icy or emotionally distant. The fact that Stacia Kane has the ability run me the gamut speaks volumes for my investment in this series and the characters, I think.

      I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. :)

      Reply to this comment »
  • Sammy says:

    I am so excited about this book and loved your review… All except the last part… If this is the last book I think I might have a wee bit of a breakdown. Like tears, screaming, and locking myself in a dark room and forget what day was the last time I showered, kind of breakdown.
    I’m a wee bit invested in this lasting forever. :)

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:

      Sammy, I will be right there with you. I hope that Stacia Kane will find a way to continue to bring us the stories but I don’t have my finger to the pulse of it. I’d certainly like to see Chess find her self worth and shake free of the ghosts of her past that she drags around with her.

      Reply to this comment »
  • says:

    I have been undecided on reading this one after the emotional roller coaster that was the last book. I will just tough it out and carry on. I love this series. Great review. :)

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:, this one is maybe even more of an emotional roller coaster than the last one! BUT! The good stuff is sooooo damned good, the pay off is there, for sure. Terrible is at his best in this one, there is no doubt.

      Reply to this comment »
  • Mona Leigh says:

    I’ve been pacing myself with this series because it does evoke so much emotion. I even stopped mid-book and postponed finishing it because I was simply overwhelmed. Now I’m waiting for a lull in RL so I can go back to it without feeling like I’ve OD’d.

    Never thought I’d say that about a book. LOL)

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:

      Mona, I can honestly say with this book that the first half is the “hard part.” And it was hard emotionally. But the second half is like an ascending spiral that breaches previous heights.

      Reply to this comment »
  • says:

    Awesome review, you clearly love the series.I still have reservations. One for liking a drugaddict as the heroine, and two, a hero named Terrible. How do you cope with the second? Do you call him something else in your mind? (Besides hot ;).

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:

      Thanks, Aurian. I do love the series a lot but would be lying if I said that I haven’t had some internal struggles with my own patience with Chess’ negative mind talk in the last two books. I’m growing impatient with her in a similar way that I was in book 2, and it’s always when I’m just overwhelmed with the negative. Stacia Kane always manages to bring me back to seeing the big picture and remembering that it’s important to see the big picture. How many of us are perfect, after all?

      Terrible. Hmmmm. It’s hard for me to explain why I’m in Terrible’s camp. He’s not handsome, aesthetically you could call him a “greaser” and that’s NEVER been my cup of tea. He’s the farthest thing from refined you can get. I think I like that he’s raw and while he might not be forthcoming what you do get from him is 100% real. You know he’s not playing you because he’s just not smooth enough to.

      Reply to this comment »
  • internet says:

    Hello, after reading this remarkable piece of writing i am as well happy to share my experience here with mates.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:

      I’m very glad that you enjoy it and thank you for sharing your opinion with us!

      Reply to this comment »