Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane - review

Sacrificial Magic
Stacia Kane
Downside #4
cover - The magical tattoos on the arm, the ambiguous look on the woman's face (is she sad? mad? stoned out of her head?) the suggestion of a school hallway in the background....oh yeah.  this cover works

The Downside series is one of my favorite series to read. Sacrificial Magic was worth waiting for!  I enjoy reading a character that is such mess - she's full of flaws, she's spiraling down a drug induced mess, trying to hide from her past and trying to maintain a job for an institution that has been her saving grace - even while she breaks some of their tenets and keeps herself stoned just to get through the day.

Boy - I can relate! It would be so comforting to be in a fog at least part of the time, lol.  It was interesting watching (or reading) Chess's latest adventure.  It's clear that she's doing more drugs than ever, and in fact has come close to being caught - not only that, but she's getting a bit more brazen in her use.  And there's this one moment in the novel, when I'm thinking....I smell an intervention coming.  Maybe not though.  But maybe.

Chess is asked by the church to take on a difficult case, one that was started by another debunker - a debunker who seems to have disappeared, or given up.  Unfortunately this case takes her right into the middle of the rival druglord's territory - her boyfriend is the enforcer of another druglord.  Chess is in an awkward position - can't turn this case down.  To further complicate things, she's still in contact with Lex, the rival druglord's son, and her boyfriend isn't too happy about this.  To further muddy things, her man's boss is the one she gets her pills from so she can't really turn down a request from him to look into a burning murder.

While looking into the Church's case, she meets a woman who is as rude to her as she is to this woman, and she starts to feel like she might enjoy an almost friendship - but then again, this person might be trying to kill her.  

Be prepared for a little more of the emo angst - which at first kind of bugged me (not being a fan of reading about emo people when I can simply point at random and FIND my own emo drama queens, sometimes in my own house!) and yet it was clear how much of this emotional and insecure feelings tied into Chess's drug use, which in turn is a direct result of her horrible life as a child and teen, which in turn caused lots of bad feelings and self image, which in turn adds to the need for self medication which in turn adds to the maelstorm of bad self image, emotional baggage and skewed sense of right and wrong....and it goes on and on.  Which is so on the spot with how people who are in the middle of addictions (any addictions) get to this point and shows a glimpse into the mental anguish that they deal with on a daily basis.  Wow.  Great job on this type of characterization - not a lot of writers have the cojones to not only give their main character these type of issues, but allow them to be realistic, to continue in their addictions for more than one book. Many times they're relieved of these problems pretty quickly - most are more comfortable with "well behaved, good-morals characters, it seems.   And the many times that is mentioned that Chess pulls out more pills, or even thinks about using ties in perfectly.  After all this is how it is with an addict.  The use and the mere thought of using is never far from mind.

Threaded throughout this story of addiction is a well plotted story of revenge, murder, magical mayhem with some relationship angst thrown in.  What a refreshingly flawed set of characters.  Loved the whole book - angst, drug use, insecurities and all.  Can't wait for the next one.  I can't help hoping that Chess can keep a balance with all her issues, and yet realistically I know that things always come crashing down - sometimes this happens a few times, but it happens.  Here's to Chess!

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