Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls -- and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.
As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess -- if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living.
Comment: Another installment in this gritty series by Stacia Kane.
This time Chess is facing the deadly end of one of her issues, the drug addiction. It's because of that problem that many people are being found dead and Chess has to find a way to help before too many people get killed because of that.
Chess also has a personal choice to make. Things she did before come to the surface and in the end of the book she faces a challenge she thought she couldn't have ever, but the world isn't always such an awful place, after all.
Several things happen in this book, emotionally speaking. At least, in my point of view. A secret about what she's done in the past because of Terrible is discovered by Elder Griffin and after that, another punch in Chess's self esteem is dealt because she always took pride in her job for the Church and on how Elder Griffin would think her worthy and considered her one of the best and wanted her involved in his private life and how he would respect her and now things changed and Chess feels even dirtier because she sees his loss of confidence in her as another proof she is trash. I don't foresee her seeing not everything is her fault anytime soon.
Dealing with drugs and how they have such an impact and role in her life is another issue in this novel. Being a junkie makes Chess see everything connected to drugs as a kind of constant reminder of what she's doing and why she needs the drugs. She helps the ones being targeted as people with feelings like everybody else and she defends the because just because people have things they need or want to forget doesn't make them any less human than any other person. Obviously, she takes it personal and I can't help it but being worried that if by any chance she gets rid of drugs in the future, how will she deal with the fact of working in Downside where they are so easily obtained and how that would affect her temptation levels and even her relationship with terrible..I know, I know, nothing I'm saying is happening, this is me speculating but considering I believe Chess has had a growth as a character and the author has said perhaps that evolution might mean a rehab in her life someday, I can't help but putting together that and the fact the series will end someday and my hopes of rehab for her and imagine a world where she would have to deal with so many changes...would it be worse for her to never get over her awful past and drug abuse or to do it but relapse and suffer the process of thinking of herself as a failure again no matter how human that is? Questions, questions...
Chess growing up as a character is the most obvious thing foe the reader after 5 books. In this novel we see how she relies in so many people and how she actually matters for so many too. Elder Griffin feels disappointed but don't we all about people we care about and who do things we didn't expect them to do? Even Terrible demands something and although he doesn't forbid her of using drugs he also doesn't urge her to do so...
Their relationship is getting stronger, actually. Because of that, Chess is feeling better too and has someone who not only loves her, but trusts her too. I think it's great for them and they do perform a great scene in the book, reminding me of those movies where the hero and heroine save the day and then defy logic by surviving the odds.
I think this book had many interesting issues being dealt with but there was also a certain sense of darkness in the air, like trouble is coming and I can't help but watch it and I know it might not be like I imagine but I'll certainly won't miss it. I hope the next book won't take too long to come out.