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Unholy Magic - Stacia Kane 4.5 stars!

Do I have Terrible fever? Am I completely sucked in? Do you have eyes? I thought so.


On my way down, kill the lights now
Gimme calcium and put me in the lost and found
I don't care, throw me anywhere
I'm cool man, possibly beyond repair

This is the best, this is the best
My head is such a f*cking mess
This is the best, crack house arrest,
My head's a mess

Well I woke up on a Monday
I've been feeling pretty wired
I've been wide awake since Wednesday
I was feeling so inspired
By the state of my own execution
Drop me 'cause I can't let go.
- This is the Best, USS

*sigh* Oh, Chessie. No amount of destructive behaviour can make me hate this girl.

You know what fascinates me about Chess? She may have a bad attitude but she doesn't have attitude. She's not a self-proclaimed badass with a let's-take-these-mother*uckers-down mentality. She's not abnormally fearless and altruistic. She knows her weaknesses and willingly gives in to them. She's tough as nails yet she's a cryer. She makes stupid decisions which make you want to slap her but you end up wanting to hug her instead. I mean, I may not relate to her directly but I understand her thought process.

In this installment, Chess is as busy as ever. Her latest assignment involves a high profile celebrity whose house is supposedly being haunted. Aside from her full-time job as a Debunker for the Church she continues to work gigs on the side (not entirely out of her own will), the latest of which is to put a stop to the mysterious killings of hookers in Downside and the neighboring community, which happens to be her bed buddy Lex's territory. Will there ever be a time for her to stop being taken advantage of? Somehow she gets deeper and deeper in trouble with just about everyone.

This was a thrilling and emotional sequel to [b:Unholy Ghosts|6261189|Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1)|Stacia Kane|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1359346082s/6261189.jpg|6444397]. Despite the Downside speak that I have yet to get used to (plus Bump referring to himself in the third person) I found this easier to read and harder to put down. I know this series is primarily about Chessie's missions but my heart leaps every time there's a scene with her and Terrible. Their partnership is strong and their friendship genuine.
"Naw, no need. Nothin show up we ain't handle, aye? You an me."
But Chess is still hiding some important things from Terrible, most notably the sleeping-with-the-enemy tidbit, and I felt so nervous anticipating the moment when the truth finally comes out.

The mood of the book is still dark and gritty, although not without dark humor scattered here and there. That scene with the Downside hookers with their nail files and cheap purses as weapons facing off with tough Cantonese gang members is still an image that I can't picture without laughing. Or the subtle threats in the excerpts from Church-approved texts that appear at the beginning of every chapter.
The penalty for summoning the dead back to earth is death; if the summoned spirit does not kill its summoner, be assured the Church will.
-The Book of Truth, Laws, Article 3

Secrets are eventually revealed and they are not without harrowing moments. That scene at the rooftop? Can we please take a moment to just bask in the awesomeness of the speech to end all speeches and slow clap it out?
"Shit. I want you, Chess. Make no mistake on that one, dig? Want you bad. So bad I ain't even can think of any else sometimes, 'cept getting you under me. Ain't give a fuck what pills you swallow get you through the day or what happens you ain't got em, aye? Still want you."

*insert ugly sob here*

"But I ain't... ain't think I can take it, wakin up next to you on the morn, have you fake like nothing happened. Or tell me you made yourself a mistake. Or say, aye, thanks, maybe try that again on the sometime. I know how you run it, keepin it cool and no repeats, and I dig it, aye? Got your reasons. So I figure..."

*insert hiccups here*

"I figure you really wanted me you'd say. Like now, maybe, if you dig. I'll fuckin carry you down your place on a run, you tell me aye, get you on your back afore the next word comes out your mouth. But you oughta have yourself certain, causen I ain't lookin for charity, an I ain't lettin you go after. Once... once ain't enough for me, dig?"

*insert more ugly sobs here*

At the time of this review I have just finished the third book in the series and I just want to make one thing clear. I haven't read many UF, especially non-YA ones, but I've often seen this being compared to Fever. Considering that I obsess over that series, I'd say that Downside is a worthy competition, if not better. There's no frilly, pink heroine to make fun of here, no omnipotent jackass to fawn over, and no plot centrally fueled by innuendos to tide your interest over to the next book (not to slam that series or anything because those are the things I loved about it.) There's nothing pretty about Downside, no seemingly perfect characters, and that's exactly what I love about it. I am hoping the series continues to deliver, but so far it's turning out to be a personal favourite.