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Sacrificial Magic

Downside Ghosts, Book 4
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Series: Downside Ghosts, Book 4
4.5 out of 5 stars
This title is included in Audible Escape

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Publisher's Summary

Reading, writing, and raising the dead.

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity, her boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the old sparks between them.

Plus, there’s the little matter of Chess’ real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth. She’s investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside, where someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

Stacia Kane has been a phone psychic, a customer-service representative, a bartender, and a movie-theater usher, and she thinks that writing is more fun than all of them combined. She wears a lot of black, still makes great cocktails, likes to play music loud in the car, and thinks Die Hard is one of the greatest movies ever made. She believes in dragons and the divine right of kings and is a fervent Ricardian. She lives in Devon, England.

©2012 Stacey Fackler (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

“Whether [the reader’s heart] is pounding in fear or breaking in sympathy, this book was satisfying on pretty much every level…. This is such an addictive, compelling series.” ( Urban Fantasy Book Reviews)
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What members say

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Customer Reviews

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5 out of 5 stars
By Lupdilup on 05-17-12


When you finished a 13+ hrs audiobook in 24 hrs, it can only mean one thing, " impossible to put down"
Bahni Turpin is awesome!! And paired with the amazing writing style of Stacia Kane, it's just absolute magic!
With some heart wrenching moments we get one more mystery solved, all while we get to ride inside the messed up little head of our unconventional, some times irritating, but always entertaining Chess Putnam.
Another terrific entry to this dark, somber yet exciting and always engrossing Urban Fantasy series.

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8 people found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Fun Lovin Lady on 05-16-12

The Best URBAN FANTASY SERIES, without question!

The Downside Ghost Series is for Adults. Why? The main character has a major drug addiction, the men that she is involved with are both gang thugs, and oh yeah, there are a bunch of ghosts just waiting to kill whomever they can get their hands on.
AND all this adds up to make one of the best series I have ever read.
SACRIFICIAL MAGIC, is the fourth book. I think that because I have gotten to know and understand the characters so well, that I found myself crying. Almost feeling the fear and shame that main character and witch, Chess feels everyday. Suddenly her drug addiction makes sense.

I can't stress how the narrator is absolutely perfect for this book. She is not reading the book. She is performing. She has all the characters down pat. All I can say is WOW!
I wish more audiobooks were as good as this one.

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7 people found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By RabidReads on 10-01-13

Stacia Kane has earned a spot on my auto-buy list!

The fourth installment in Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series felt like a major stepping stone for Chess. Putnam and I didn’t exactly hit it off in the earlier books; I struggled to find the “heroine” in this drug addicted protagonist which has made her journey up to this point all the more impressive. The last novel was my favourite so far but Sacrificial Magic surpassed it in one area; it changed my view of Putnam’s potential for happiness. Chess makes some incredibly difficult decisions in this installment and realizes that the trust issues that exist in her and Terrible’s relationship are hers, not his. I was awed by how much her character grows in this book; now I find myself rooting for her and actually optimistic about the possibility of a happily-ever-after (just not TOO soon as I’d like Kane to write a few more novels first!).

So far, my favourite plot lines in this series have revolved around the tension between the two sides of Downside and in Sacrificial Magic we get exactly that. Chess must investigate a haunting on Slobag’s side of town which in turn leads to an attempt on Putnam’s life and an all-out turf war. Can you believe that this is actually just an average day of the job for this church witch? The result is an emotionally charged, action-packed story that doesn’t quit until the very last page. Kane’s talent for writing intricate investigations with multiple plot threads is out in full force in this installment and I found myself enjoying the detective work almost as much as the scenes with Terrible. Almost.

Bahni Turpin’s performance as the narrator is once again without compare; she switches between characters with ease and her tone is always dead-on. She does a brilliant job of portraying each individual’s emotional state and, handles Chess’ frequent highs and lows with ease. Every time I listen to one of these audiobooks I can’t help but be amazed by Turpin’s proficiency with the unique lingo that this series is renowned for. Her voice has become an integral part of my Downside Ghosts reading experience and has forever replaced the one inside my head.

Tension runs high between Chess and Terrible in the first half of this novel which spawns a rather intense argument between these two lovebirds. I was glued to my earbuds during their showdown; it was just so heartbreaking that I felt like I died a little inside after listening to it. Luckily, their make-up session is equally as powerful which means that I cried not once, but twice during this 14 hour experience. I just hope that Terrible and Chess have reached a point in their relationship where they’re finally going to be more “on” than “off” because I’m beginning to get a little frustrated (and drained) by all of the drama. I NEED for them to be a united front for at least one full installment.

Sacrificial Magic provides readers with some closure while simultaneously adding new questions to the already large unanswered pile. I can’t help but worry about what the future might hold for Chess but one thing is for certain; I will be there to find out! Needless to say, Stacia Kane has earned a spot on my auto-buy list!

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6 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jennifer on 06-01-12

This series just keeps getting better and better!!

Sacrificial Magic (SM), the 4th book in Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts Series and it’s her best book to date.

Cepts, Nips and Panda’s, OH MY. These are all Chess’s drugs of choice, plus the occasional trip the pipe room. Yes, the series about a drug addicted heroine named Chess Putnman that’s a witch investigator that debunks ghost haunting for the Church. But don’t let the drug addiction turn you off. Chess has had a very hard and abusive childhood being passed around different foster homes where the dads and sometime moms have used her as their form of entertainment. Chess at heart is a survivor with very low self-esteems issues. She uses her pills as a way to escape her feelings and pain of the past.

Even though Chess has finally found love, she still believes that she is unworthy of that love and does everything in her power to mess it up. There is one scene (well more than one) in Sacrificial Magic where I just want to slap the hell out of Chess for being self deconstructive when it comes to her relationship with Terrible. Yes the two still does not have it easy and even though I do get frustrated I like the fact that Kane doesn’t turn Chess and Terrible into the old married couple after they FINALLY get together. They both live hard lives and even though they have found love with each other, they have to work at their relationship.
And speaking of being frustrated; SM is a big freaking sexual tease through half of the book! There a few scenes where you thought you were going to get to see Terrible and Chess go at just to have something stop their fun.

Chess finds herself smiling a lot in SM and wondering what that is all about. Could this be what normal people do? Oh and we learn a little something personal about Terrible; he likes his dames o-natural. So no more waxing for Chess. When I read that line in the book I had a huge smile on my face. There was little more humor in SM and it was nice to see.

Chess gets a case from the Church that has been dropped by another debunker at a school on the other side of town where she has to cross the drug dealer’s line finding herself in her ex’s territory. This doesn’t help things with her and Terrible’s relationship. But she has no choice but to work the case. She uses her ties to Lex (her ex) to help figure out what’s going on at the school with the haunting.

Sacrificial Magic is a must read and is my current favorite book for this year and I say with total confidence that the only book that will probably top it will be the next book in the Downside series, Chasing Magic.
Fans of dark and gritty UF with damaged heroine and unusual heroes will fall in love with this series.

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4 people found this helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By A. Hogue on 05-20-12

Not as strong as the others

It wasn't baaad. But it was really whinny and romancey. It picked up some in the end, but I have to say it never grabbed me like her other books in this series did. When I finished every other of these books I wanted the next one... I finished this and just went... Eh, ok. So what should I listen to next.

It didn't seem like Chess had any growth except to fix the monumentally huge and stupid things she did in the beginning of the book. I guess I feel like the series is turning more into all the ways she's vulnerable, messed up and weak as opposed to playing up her strengths and power. Seems like she should be growing through her phenomenal magic. Not just through the stupid things she does and says with Terrible.

I will buy the next book, and hope some of the hard core grit of Downside comes back. Oh, of course, the narrator is one of the best I have EVER heard! She is so amazing, I hope she is paid a lot. Her voice is amazing.

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3 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Berls on 05-18-14

Emotional Torture of the Best Kind

My Initial Reaction...
This series just keeps getting better and better! What can I say about Sacrificial Magic? Talk about emotional torture of the best kind! Not to mention the amazballs action you always get from Stacia Kane!

Note: Expect series spoilers!

The Narration...
Bahni Turpin is the perfect fit for this series. She's made the Downside world so incredibly real for me and I can't imagine reading these books without her. I have a few favorite narrators and I can't imagine even one of them doing this series. She's made each character have such an amazingly strong and unique voice, not to mention made the unique Downside language the Stacia created work for me. I definitely recommend listening to this series.

The Characters...
OMG, Chess has officially broken my heart with Sacrificial Magic. We've known for a while that she's running from a horrible past by using her drugs and every bit that I see of that past breaks my heart. But in Sacrificial Magic we see her vulnerability like never before. She and Terrible are really trying this relationship thing and she just doesn't know how to do it. How to feel for someone. But she wants to. So she's trying so hard. She's trying to be honest with Terrible, even when it scares her. And it scares her so much because she doesn't believe she's worth loving. You've always known she didn't think much of herself, but she broke my heart over and over as how little she thinks of herself came through. But she grew hard core in Sacrificial Magic and I can't wait to see what she'll do next.

And then there's Terrible. Gah this man is so beautiful despite being physically so ugly. I think it's such a brilliant juxtaposition that Stacia created in him. He's your noble gangster, with feelings and intelligence and heart, despite what it might seem. And he doesn't really know how to do this relationship thing either, but he knows how to care about Chess, if she'll let him and trust him. Every time he called her "Chessiebomb" I think I wanted to melt a little, because it's such a horrible endearment and yet it works so well for them. I don't think I've wanted happiness and good things for a couple like this in such a long time. They just have both had so many rough knocks and deserve better and yet fate seems really against them. Fingers crossed they beat fate.

I don't know how everyone else feels about Lex, but I seriously like him. No, he's not right for Chess, but I seriously believe he is a good guy - at least when you let go of the Downside Gangster part of him. I think he loves Chess and if could let their past fade a bit, I think he would realize that she's someone he's always loved as a friend. Sex just confused things a bit. Things are about to get really crazy where he's concerned, though, and I just hope that he doesn't change for the worse. And that somehow things work out for him, Chess, and Terrible - I think they could all be friends, if it weren't for the world they live in.

Oh and can I just say how much I loved Elder Griffin in Sacrificial Magic? I mean we haven't gotten to know him all that well - but I feel like he's that father figure that Chess so desperately needs in her life. A decent man who only wants good things for her. I hope we keep seeing more of him as the series progresses.

The Story...
In Sacrificial Magic, as always, Chess gets a job from the Church that just so happens to coincide with what's going on in Downside (I have to say - I'm getting a bit tired of how these two elements always overlap - I still loved this book, but come on, let's find a new way for the two parts of her life to meet, shall we?). The job she gets from the Church is about a haunting at a Downside School, on Lex's side of town. That creates two problems - one, it's Lex's (aka not Terrible's); two - Lex's side of town has a problem with the Church. They tend to be people who believed in Ancestor Worship before the Church took over and they still cling to that a bit. Not to mention the actual ghost problem.

As always, the way that Stacia explains and describes the magic is fantastic. You can see what's happening so vividly and it gets pretty intense. Things are also really heating up between the two crime lords of Downside - Bump and Slobag. I love this aspect of the series, especially since Chess is right smack dab in the middle and I find myself (like her) caring for people on both sides. Things get seriously complicated, confusing, and intense - poor Chess has an attempt on her life (Again!) and we end up watching a massive turf war, all while a magically battle is also going down. It kept me glued until the final page!

Concluding Sentiments...
I don't know what I liked more about this book - the sexual tension between Chess and Terrible or the explosive action. Either way, it was fantastic!

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.

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2 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Anonymous User on 09-23-12

Fourth in series....I was Afraid.....

I was honestly and truly afraid to read this book. Not because of the ghosties and gholies, witches and what not, but because of my investment in these characters and their relationships from the first 3 books in this series.

All I can tell you is that this is an absolutely awesome, darkly different sort of series, and some of the best world building and character development in this genre. I bought the first book in this series on sale. Otherwise, I might not have ever given this series a whirl. Even though I do love paranormal romance, I tend toward vampire or shapeshifter (or some authors version of similar beings), but the whole urban fantasy alternate future reality thing is usually not my cup of tea.

Until this series that is. Stacia Kane writes some of the most compelling characters I've ever read. Chess, the heroine in all the novels, is a seriously drug addicted, seriously abused and seriously messed up character. The "anti hero" in the peice is Terrible, a drug lords main goon, with a face and build to match. You find yourself wondering why on earth you think he's sexy, and yet, he is...massively so. The chemistry between he and chess is perfectly presented. There are steady bit players in the background drama that are well developed and essential parts of the "Downside" experience, but it's Chess and Terrible that will keep you coming back for more and more.

Bahni Turpin is one of the most versitile readers on audible, and she is a superstar in this series. Downside has a very specific slang, and since there is no such "language" in existance for her to model it on, she creates her own style for Downside residents that resonates so much with me that I sometimes find myself responding to people in the real world with Turpin's Downside accent.

Book 5 is out. Don't miss this series!!

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2 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Karen on 07-13-12

Fabulous and Surprising!!!

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!

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2 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jess on 05-22-12

The Dynamic Duo does it again!

What a great book! I loved the first 3 books, and was desperately hoping Bahni Turpin was reading this one, and she was! She reads the voices better than I can imagine them, especially Terrible and Lex. I enjoyed hearing about Chess' latest adventures in witchery. This series makes me feel for all of the characters, especially the drug addicted Chess. Throw in plenty of magic, ghosts and sex, and I was sold!

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2 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Heidi M. Funk on 05-25-15

Still Riveting

So glad I found this series. Will miss Chess and Terrible when it is over!

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1 person found this helpful