From rising star Stacia Kane comes the third novel in her dark and sexy Chess Putnam series, perfect for fans of Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs.
Chess Putnam has a lot on her plate. Mangled human corpses have started to show up on the streets of Downside, and Chess’ 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’ 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—and the only man Chess can trust to help her through it all has every reason to want her dead.
©2010 Stacia Kane (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Speculative Fiction Book Review Blogger
I’m pleased to say, that after three installments, I FINALLY understand what all the fuss over this series is about! Chess and I got off to a rocky start in the beginning but my ratings of Kane’s books have been steadily climbing which brings me to this 5 star review of City of Ghosts. There’s no shortage of action in this novel with its super-charged plot, magical machinations and relationship drama; truthfully, by the end I felt dizzy. This installment packs one heck of a punch and left me grinning from ear-to-ear!
The main story arc, as usual, revolves around a Church investigation but this one is unlike any Chess has ever worked before. She has to team-up with Lauren, a coworker who also just so happens to be the Grand Elder’s daughter. So, not only is the pressure on but Putnam doesn’t exactly play well with others. The complications don’t end there; Chess must take a blood oath of secrecy which puts her in a precarious situation with Downside’s drug lords. Needless to say, the plot keeps you on your toes because you’re constantly decoding magical rules, unearthing layer upon layer of bad guys and crossing your fingers that Putnam gets “them” before “they” get her. You’ll spend most of this book feeling both horrified and hypnotized which proves to be a weird yet surprisingly satisfying combination.
I liked that Chess’ drug use is less prevalent in this novel than in previous installments. I actually thought of her as a heroine for the first time in this series. A few of her less desirable personality traits are strangely beginning to endear her to me thanks to Kane finally revealing more about her character. Chess will never be the perfect protagonist but that’s also part of her charm. Urban Fantasy is full of beautiful people with strong morals so it’s refreshing to encounter one that’s so… un-hero like. I find it ironic that her drug addiction has actually saved her life a couple of times now too. I’m starting to think that being a junkie might actually be a vital survival tool in Downside!
After their fallout in the previous book, Terrible can’t stand to be near Chess but he can’t seem to resist her either. It’s an impossible situation that’s bound to have an explosive outcome. Their love for one another takes a somewhat violent turn but the end result was better than I could ever have hoped for! Not only is City of Ghosts the best installment yet but it’s also the one that made me fall in love with Terrible. Bahni Turpin continues to shine as the narrator of this series; she consistently nails the Downside lingo and handles Chess’ ever-changing moods like a seasoned pro. This is another prime example of a book being better in audio.
Stacia Kane has transformed this critic into a fan. Her gift for combining the most unlikely of elements is oddly compelling and makes for a truly unique Urban Fantasy experience.
A mom, a wife, a friend, a happy ending addict, an audiobook junkie, a wine lover and geek wanna -be. I'm constantly looking to be blown awa
First let me just say, I haven’t been this thrilled... For quite a long time.
After listening to the next 2 books in the series, I have reconsidered my take on this novel, and these are my final thoughts.
There’s nothing better than a well written and original- dark Urban Fantasy ride, and Stacia Kane has created just that - even though this is not the best book in the series, it is the introduction to this enthralling world... darkness is all around, it's neither pretty nor easy… but grab you, it will!
This was my first novel by this author, and wow! I’m so glad I listen to the friend that recommended it, the writing is flawless and the setting captivating.
The characters are unconventional, the lingo is original, the plot is fresh, but most important; she has gone outside the box by creating a heroine that will challenge your reasoning and will demand your emotions; disdain, compassion, anger, sympathy and hopefully, understanding.
One thing though, amidst the darkness, drug use and low-lifers, we get a shining star; the most unusual hero, an anti-hero some call him, yet another departure from the norm when it comes to a leading male character, but I assure you! He will inevitably capture your heart.
Besides the terrific character development and the skillful introduction to Chess's world, we get action, suspense, mystery, and in the small glimpses of Chess’ happiness we also get a hot romance (tortured, but steaming)
Once thing is for sure, the world and the characters will stay with you, and you will be downloading the next novel in this incredibly gripping series, before you are even finished with this one.
I highly recommend it to any fan of UF genre that can approach the ride with an open mind, so just buckle up, and let the Author hurdle you into this emotional spin.
An excellent performance!!! Yes, Bahni Turpin didn’t read these novels, she perfectly executed them.
I knew she sounded it familiar, I just couldn’t place her, and then I remember that she was one of the narrators for the book, Help, that was a terrific performance, and once again she absolutely shines with her rendition of this novel.
She expertly brings Chess to life conveying all the complexity of her character. She performs the dialogue in absolutely natural and convincing way.
I would dare to say, this is a much better book on audio than in print, at least for me. I think that my inner voice for Chess wouldn’t have had the vulnerability the Ms. Turpin layered in her character.
All in all, Bahni Turpin is the perfect narrator for this gritty, emotional and absorbing ride.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
City of Ghosts, is by far the best book in this series. I have to admit, it took me awhile to "get" the dark and gritty world of magic, that author, Stacia Kane, has invented. You know, like when you read "Shakespeare" sometimes it is hard to understand, until you get into the rhythm of the language.
The same is true for the Chess Putnam series. Ms. Kane has most of her characters speaking in this broken language that is not very articulate. But after the flow of the language came to me, I really did enjoy the story.
Chess, the main character, is very tainted. In fact all of the charaters have huge flaws. But these flaws make them so much more interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes their urban fantasy with a little grit, and alot of action.
Reviewing Romance & Urban Fantasy
BRAVO!!! Kane has done it again. Each book replaces the last as my favorite in the series.
Kane’s cast of misfits is back in City of Ghosts. Chess is still working for the Church as a debunker and yes she still has her drug addiction. Terrible is still the best anti-hero EVER! We even get to see some of Lex and Bump in this installment.
“Most Debunkers spent their money on actual things, rather than just buying anything they could swallow, smoke or snort. Unlike Chess.”
Just when I thought that Unholy Magic was an emotional ride, here comes City of Ghosts to continue ripping my heart out. I feel like I’m on Chess’ pills with all the highs and lows that the two go through.
After the events in Unholy Magic, Terrible wants nothing to do with Chess and she is miserable without him. And I was miserable wondering when he would show up in the book. Once he did my heart was pounding just as much as Chess’.
“She knew what she saw, and that was all that mattered. Knew what was behind those hard dark eyes, and wanted it more than anything.”
I love when an author creates characters that make me feel the way they feel. My heart was breaking for Terrible and Chess. I was crying when she was crying; I was pissed when he was pissed. I’m so totally involved in these characters and their world that I go into withdrawals waiting for the next book.
“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”
I have never had such a love/hate relationship with the heroine of a series as much as I do with Chess. Terrible and Chess are my addiction and Stacia Kane is quickly rising to the top of my Urban Fantasy list as my favorite author in the genre.
Again if you are a fan of dark and gritty Urban Fantasy you MUST read this series. I cannot wait for Sacrificial Magic to be released on audio so I can devour it and then wait impatiently for Chasing Magic.
This series has been a real find and a total surprise. I purchased the first one after reading some amazing reviews but was unsure what to expect. The heroine is a drug addict?? However, Chess is such a vulnerable and complex character that the listener can't help but love her. She is insecure, brave, clever, and full of contradictions. She is a fascinating protagonist and gets more interesting with each installment. Stacia Kane's world is edgy and unique. At times it is genuinely scary and at others it is grim, yet there is still love and hope to be found. Terrible and Lex add to a wonderful cast of rich characters. The other great thing about this series is the magnificent performances by Bahni Turpin. I honestly think the best way to experience these books is to hear her read them. She is superb - probably the best narrator I have heard. The books come to life and the characters are voiced so well its impossible to think of them sounding any other way. If you're a fan of urban fantasy with an edge this series is one of the best. I bought the first one and was so captivated I purchased all the others and had them finished in a week. Then I started again!
Audible has opened up a whole new world of reading that I could not make work in the traditional page turning world. I am on a mission to listen to a wide variety of adventures, mysteries, thrillers, classics, etc. Thank you Audible!
So far I have fully enjoyed all three of the City of Ghosts books. I can't say enough positive praise about the amazing job that Bahni Turpin does in this series. Her voices make each character unique and come to life. So far over the three books she has not had any trouble keeping her character voices on the mark, which is a problem I have experienced from other narrators in past series.
I do want to warn readers who are more sensitive. The series continues to have plenty of strong language and the main character's drug addiction remains a major part of the story line. One thing that does change in the third book is that Stacia Kane has started to add little bet of intense romance on the edge of porn. There are only two instances that I would say are on the side of pornish, but it does not dominate the story by any means.
I rated this story lower than I did the first two because I did not feel the story was as well put together as the first two and went off on several tangents that in my opinion took away from the story rather than strengthened it. I hope this is not an indication of problems to come with the series as at this time I completely plan to continue listening.
My Initial Reaction...
Wow! That was incredible! Despite having one of the most frustrating heroines, this series is quickly becoming a favorite. And the heroine? I officially kind of love her too! (there will be some series spoilers here... sorry, couldn't avoid it and gush like I wanted to!)
Thank you for reading this series, Bahni Turpin, so I don't have too. This is a brilliant series and one of the things that makes it brilliant is the way she's created a slang language all her own. But I don't think I could read it and get the meaning out the way Bahni does. Her ability to bring characters to life has landed her at the top of my go-to narrators list (though this is the only series I've read with her so far). If you've tried this series and had a hard time with the language, try again listening to Bahni. Just sayin'
Chess started growing on me with Unholy Magic. I started to understand her a lot better and it got me past my dislike of her drug addiction. Sure, I still am not a fan of her addiction, but I'm way over it. And I'm starting to believe that she'll get over it too. I see Chess thinking a lot better in this book - yes, she still makes dumb decisions and her addiction is still a handicap (which gets her into serious trouble at one point, again) - but she's starting to make decisions that are make sense. She seems to want something from life and that's a huge step for her. And I think it speaks volumes for the power of love.
And who does she love? Well, even if she's having a hard time with these feelings, we recognize them for what they are. Chess loves Terrible. But, she effed that up bad in Unholy Magic... though I think loosing him was what she needed to realize exactly how much he meant to her. I was really pleased that Stacia Kane went head first into that with City of Ghosts - from the get-go, Chess is feeling horrible about the loss of Terrible as a friend. And she has lost him. Terrible feels betrayed and he's letting her know. Talk about harsh! Every interaction with him broke my heart for the first... well, you don't want me to spoil it for you, now do you? Let me just say, this is a couple that is seriously effed up and I want things to work for them more than most.
I have to give a quick shout out to Lex. I have always been okay with him. Sure, he's really not right for Chess and her relationship with him never felt like more than prostituting herself for drugs. But she ends things with Lex early on in City of Ghosts and I was impressed, not only with the way he took it, but with the fact that he was still a friend to her. I hope at some point Chess will look back at some of the moments in this book and see that she is worth more than she thinks she is, because she has two guys who care for her deeply.
As much as I love the characters, City of Ghosts has got one incredible story! The mystery kept me on my toes, guessing constantly. There is some incredible action and Chess is on it with her magic. I mean, this chick has always had the potential and we've seen glimpses, but in City of Ghosts she's downright fierce. The last bit is particularly intense.
Oh wait - I forgot to tell you what's going on, I got too excited about how awesome it was! What I love about this book is that it's so connected to both Unholy Ghosts and Unholy Magic, in true Urban Fantasy style. As in, you won't have a clue what's going on if you haven't read the first two. At the start of Unholy Magic Chess is working with the squad and they uncover illegal magic users - and it's time for the head, Madame Lupita's execution at the start of City of Ghosts. But things go terribly wrong and two members of the Church end up dead. It's the start of all sorts of problems that has Chess doubting the one thing she's always trusted in - her magic, which is Church Magic. She gets put on a case that puts her at the center of everything and it's, once again, up to Chess to save the day. Only this time she has a partner - the Grand Elder's daughter, Lauren - and that complicates the shit out of things. Not to mention she's not exactly a lovely person. I loved every moment of their interactions though, and particularly seeing that Chess could hold her own with someone who's supposed to be so much above her.
I'm officially addicted to this series and can't wait to read more. It's action packed, sexy as hell, and bursting with magic. What more can you ask for?
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Goodreads reviewer and blogger... also dentist and wife/mom when I get the time!
Oh Chess. What a piece of freaking work you are. ::Shakes head::
This series is dark, dark, dark, and more than a little depressing. I'm not usually a fan of downer reads. So why is it so good? How is this series so freaking good? And why can I not stop reading (or listening, in my case)?!?! Chess is a drugged out mess, and only sinking deeper into her own pit of suck. But Stacia Kane is kind of brilliant how she writes her character. Chess was worse than ever but I felt for her for the first time. I had empathy, man, empathy.
The way Bahni Turpin narrates this book makes me want to talk all cool and "downside"-y, which is inadvisable for me, considering I'm a uncool suburban mom. I want to casually drop in a "facts are truth" to someone. This book just gets under your skin. It made me want to visit the world of Downside Ghosts, if only as a casual observer (that place is freaking creepy and scary, dude).
I want to slap some sense into Chess but I also want to follow her around and witness her brilliance and her coming to pieces.
I loved this story and I will be listening to the rest of the series back to back. Stacia Kane, go easy on me.
Stacia Kane is a strong writer who weaves strong story lines with original material. Even though this is a series, one never gets the feeling that the author is dragging out the material - she paces her stories nicely.
Even though this is clearly fantasy material. Her characters are real on an emotional level. Her ideas original and interesting.
Narration is highly subjective, but I think Bahni does a superb job bringing the story to life.
The protagonist is someone I am rooting for. She is a highly flawed individual. She clearly is a destructive personality patching her emotional wounds with drugs. I cannot really relate to this and yet I enjoyed listening to the book. It is a bit hard to deal with her bad choices, but she rings true.
This is such an imaginative series. These characters just keep drawing you closer, til your heart weeps at times for their struggles. Chess and Terrible pull at your heartstrings, as you feel what they feel.The story is so unique from any other, that I have read. Our heroine is a drug addict, with a heart of gold. From start to finish, this story keeps you enthralled, to the point of not taking the earbuds off til it's done. It's non stop action, mystery, and an emotional roller coaster. I'm on to the next in the series, but need to take a break, before I start, cause once you start, you'll want to do nothing else, but listen. The narration is one of the best I've heard. She has all the emotion down pat, and the voices couldn't be better. Start with book one, and go from there, cause these stories build from the previous one.
"Loving the Downside Ghosts series"
Can't get enough of these Downside Residents! Loved this latest instalment as much as the first two and can't wait for Sacrificial Magic! Wondering what will happen in the little love triangle between Chess, Lex and Terrible. Hoping it comes to Audible soon as I can't wait any longer and the narrator Bahni Turpin is awesome. Without doubt one of the best urban fantasy series around, keep up the good work!
Report Inappropriate Content