The saga continues. Though the third book felt like it could have been a fitting end to the series, Stacia Kane got an extension and rolled with it. Chess and Terrible are back and things aren’t as happily ever after as one would hope. I mean, really, how much of that can you really expect in this series?
Chess is ordered to help out Bump, her dealer and drug lord extraordinaire, to solve a set of murders caused by dark magic. Being a witch, this is her specialty and only she can get to the bottom of it. She’s also got a day job as a ghost hunter for her Church where she must figure out what’s behind a haunting on the other side of town, the rival side. The dead are being summoned and that’s always a problem in the Downside world. They are super lethal and one must be super prepared to effectively take them on. So she has to put herself at risk once again to help everyone, including the one most important to her.
Overall, I really kind of struggle with this series. I’m not a Chess fan, and it’s honestly not because she’s a drug user. I just don’t find her particularly interesting most of the time, but she is a very layered and flawed character, the product of too many tragedies suffered early on in life. I think in this novel we see the most introspection when it comes to Chess, and I actually laughed a couple of times. I’m honestly not a huge fan of Terrible either, and yet for some reason I like reading about their relationship. It’s super raw and out of the ordinary, which makes it the most intriguing part of these novels. Though in this book there were a few instances where their situation became pretty off-putting for me by how destructive it was. It makes me hope that their personal drama won’t be present in future books. I feel like once they’ve gotten past these issues we shouldn’t go there again. So I’m wondering whether or not we’ll see that pattern later on.
Kane is a very talented writer, if not a bit prolific at times. I’ve read a couple of her blog posts and I really respect her attitude toward the craft. She’s created a distinct world, described very vividly; I get a great sense of the place. I just personally don’t like to be in it for very long. I like my worlds to have some color to it. This feels way too drab, and it’s not really because of the dystopian/post-apocolyptic style. I just can’t put my finger on it. I would probably enjoy this series more if she shaved off 100 pages of non-Chess/Terrible content. This is probably why I enjoyed her short story, Home, a bit more than the books. It was short enough to keep me engaged, but it was still well done and included a satisfying dose of Chess and Terrible.
That said, the last 15% of this book is excellent and it had my complete attention. That’s a stark contrast to a book I read before this one where the last 10% really dragged, so I give my kudos there.
The 5th book is due out very soon. It’s a good series. I’m sure fans are glad the books have got an extension but I’m still not in love with it. I just can’t seem to overcome my lack of love for darker urban fantasies. Different strokes, but it does keep me interested in what happens next for Chess and Terrible. I may give book 5 a read. If only my favorite series could release its next full novel only 3 months later. Downside fans are lucky!
*ARC Provided by NetGalley