I'm sorry. I can't write a proper review. This will mainly be me gushing and professing my undying love for this book, okay?
Argh! How do I even begin to list what I loved? Okay. Let’s start with this:
My fears towards the end of [b:Sacrificial Magic|8786358|Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts, #4)|Stacia Kane|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1316601704s/8786358.jpg|13630390] were validated here. Lex has taken over Slobag's position, and he has major plans - plans that included recruiting Terrible. Terrible's loyalty to Bump and his obvious hatred for Lex makes it an easy decision, but his refusal meant that he's now high on Lex's hit list and Chess is unable to do anything about it.
In addition to the escalating tension between the two territories, Downside dealers and users are falling into zombie-like trances and brutally killing people around them. Their deaths are gruesome and all of it point to their consumption of dark-magic-tainted speed. Before Chess and Terrible could even make any progress in their investigation, more people are getting "infected" and are either dying or killing others. It's only a matter of time before Downside is turned into a literal ghost town.
This was, by far, the most intense, the most heart-racing, the most gut wrenching book of the series. It was fast-paced and action packed from page one, and Chess wasn't even bombarded with jobs left and right this time. Her only mission was to put a stop to the dark magic at work, and avoid getting herself or Terrible killed in the process. This proved to be challenging since dark magic affected Terrible because of his sigil, and we find out in this book what truly happens when he comes into contact with it. It was a heartbreaking scene to witness because not only was the revelation painful for Chess, her relationship with Elder Griffin was also put in jeopardy.
Chessie's feelings of low self-worth continue to permeate the entire book. And while I long for her to eventually stop viewing herself so negatively I understand that years of trauma and conditioning can't be healed overnight. It broke my heart to read her thoughts sometimes but at the same time I appreciated the realistic portrayal. She does
slowly get used to being cared for even if she feels undeserving. And we see growth in her character, particularly confidence in her abilities as a Churchwitch. Her powers and creativity were stretched to the limits, and the things she did just blew my mind!
Of course, what purpose does this gushfest serve if I can't talk about how awesome Terrible is? We get a lot of Terrible and Chess together-time here and I loved every second of it. You'd think that they would be super close by now but they still say things or give those looks that make each other blush. It was just so cute! I think Terrible now holds the standard to which I compare all other book boyfriends to. I mean, who needs Mr. Alpha Jackass when this... this strong, protective, kind, sweet, accepting, and chivalrous man exists? I loved how he always seems to know what Chess needs, be it a lit cigarette or holding her hair back while she pukes her guts out, or just saying things to lighten up an uncomfortable mood. And GAWD, he may think that he's not eloquent but he manages to punch the right buttons every. Single. Time. That whole exchange at the rooftop sent me into fits of hiccups and ugly sobs.
"Ain't so bad Chessie, causen you ain't be alone, dig? You ain't go there on your alones. An I figuring, I end up there maybe you come down see me. You can do that, bein a witch an all, aye?"
"An that's the only one matters, dig. Can deal with it on my alones, baby, causen you visit me. But the other way... you thinkin I let you stay there by youself? Thinkin I stay here iffen you ain't around no more?"
"I ain't... Don't know how to say it up right. Never - Fuck. Thought you was dead once before, you recall? Never felt so bad in my life, not ever. Then on the other day, thought you was gone an just... I ain't can do it, bein without you.
Don't want to. An even if I did, ain't can leave you down there on your alones. How I can do that one, aye? Leave my Chessiebomb there without me. 'Specially knowin you scared on it."
"Love you, Chessie," he murmured. "Ain't never... Fuckin love you, more'n anything."
But while their partnership is solid, their relationship is constantly being put to the test. With both of them flawed and damaged, and Chess full of apprehensions, they struggle to maintain a functional relationship. And naturally, Lex continues to be Lex, always trying to get under everyone's skin (mine included) and there was one particular scene that made me want to murder him. But at the end of the book, I finally understood him better and *gag* even liked him for what he did.
This book was perfect to me and for me
. I loved the feelings of rush I felt throughout my entire reading experience. It had the right amounts of suspense, drama, action, romance, steam (uh, that scene at Bump's? Nuff said), angst and humor. Bump never fails to make me laugh (mostly during inappropriate moments too), and those sardonic chapter openers always elicit a reaction from me, be it a smile or a sudden need to hurl something against the wall. I love the multi-faceted characters and their personal dilemnas. I loved the depression and the tenderness, the temporary lapses in judgement and the little victories. Chess and Terrible will always be in my list of characters-dearest-to-me
, and for sure, this book will be sitting in my all-time-favourites shelf.