06 March 2012

GUEST REVIEW: City of Ghosts by Stacia Kane

*Today's review comes courtesy of my Goodreads friend Mimi.  You can find her on Goodreads here.*

Author: Stacia Kane
Title: City of Ghosts
Series: Downside Ghosts #3

Chess Putnam has a lot on her plate. Mangled human corpses have started to show up on the streets of Downside, and Chess’s bosses at the Church of Real Truth have ordered her to team up with the ultra-powerful Black Squad agency to crack the grisly case.

Chess is under a binding spell that threatens death if she talks about the investigation, but the city’s most notorious crime boss—and Chess’s drug dealer—gets wind of her new assignment and insists on being kept informed. If that isn’t bad enough, a sinister street vendor appears to have information Chess needs. Only he’s not telling what he knows, or what it all has to do with the vast underground City of Eternity.

Now Chess will have to navigate killer wraiths, First Elders, and a lot of seriously nasty magic—all while coping with some not-so-small issues of her own. And the only man Chess can trust to help her through it all has every reason to want her dead.

4.5 stars

"Only through penitence and pain is forgiveness possible.
—The Book of Truth, Veraxis, Article 72"

Downside World 301 by Mimi

Well, you know the way by now... I have to admit I wasn't as concerned about the world and fact-collecting here. Just waiting for them to finally get together distracting me from...well almost anything else. But here it goes.

* Psychopomps were very present here and I think I figured out the deal.

"Chess had never known if psychopomps actually came back to life, if they were for the brief time of their use breathing creatures with pumping hearts. Seemed they weren’t. They weren’t animals at all, just reanimated corpses, empty shells full of instinct and magic."

But then later it's mentioned the animal doesn't need to die in order to make a psychopomp. But basically the skull is the animals'. It allows you to summon the physical form of said animal. Then that form hounds ghosts to the City.

*There are wraiths, too...

"Wraiths. A witch’s freed living soul, joined with one of the restless undead. A ghost cranked on living energy, strengthened by magic, its living partner giving it the ability to do what astrally projected spirits could do: fly."

Not sure about that, but next to Chess&Terrible...Who cares?

*Still not sure what the Hand of Glory thing is? Chess carries it around and it's connected to magic, so...

*There is an inner organization at the Church-Black Squad. Church law enforcement.

The story

Remember that unexplained scene in book #2? The one with the seance and the almost-poisoning? Well apparently it's important here! The witch is being executed at the beginning, but it turns out she was Bound to a spirit and that ghost kills someone. At the same time Chess is contracted by her Elder Griffin. But before she does it she has to make an oath to the original Elders, which bounds her and kills her if she breaks the terms-silence and obedience.

Anyway, the bad conspirators are back, in Downside this time and she must investigate them with Laura, an obnoxious enforcer (of Black Squad).

At the same time(you've guessed it) she has to work an angle with the drug dealer and Terrible. So she can't say anything to them about the job, or to the Church about what she does for them. So she investigates, almost gets killed, and of course, pulls through.

Now onto more important things...


This was such a drama here. I genuinely liked seeing Chess suffer a bit for everything that happened. And she does suffer and feels guilty. But this time she knows what she wants and what she feels-and she FIGHTS for it. She doesn't take pills and screw up other people's lives, she takes pills and tries to fix them.

There's so much I learned about Chess along the way. Sometimes she lets pain and bitterness overwhelm her...

"You let people into your life and you ended up getting hurt. Or hurting them. Either way, the road to pain was paved with other people, and she wanted no part of it anymore."

"Chess lied to herself every day; it was just something she did, like taking her pills or making sure she had a pen in her bag. Little lies, mostly. Insignificant. Of course there were big ones there, too, like telling herself that she was more than just a junkie who got lucky enough to possess a talent not everyone had. That she was alone by choice and that she was not terrified of other people because they couldn’t be trusted, because they carried filth in their minds and pain in their hands and they would smear both all over her given half the chance."

But she doesn't give up and I really like her for that. yes, for the first time I actually LIKE Chess. Who knew? And when she was breaking...

"But he’d lied too. He’d lied, because he’d told her—not in those words, but he’d told her—that he’d seen something special in her. He’d made her believe, for that one moment, those two short days between the time he’d made his little speech and that horrible night in the graveyard, that there was something special in her. Something good.And there wasn’t. And she’d hurt him, and she hated herself so much, so much for that, for making that mistake, for doing that to him, so much she couldn’t stand it another second, and he could make it stop. He could forgive her or he could punish her"

...Terrible was there to pick her up. Not forgive her that easily. Not give in so easily, but one step at the time. But, IMO, she showed here that maybe, just maybe she deserves him...

"Once she’d thought he was ugly; he still was ugly, she supposed. She just didn’t give a shit. He was who he was, and her heart fluttered in her chest and wouldn’t stop."

Finally figured out some things, I guess...

This book was definitely the most emotionally poignant so far. It's about pain and regret and as that quote at the beginning says you can't have forgiveness without them. It really is what this book's about. And I loved seeing Chess and Terrible get there.

And, of course I loved Terrible...

“He lifted his head to look at her. Giving her his eyes, giving her what was behind them. “You know I do, aye? Love you right, Chessiebomb.”



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