Books 4 & 5 in the Downside Ghosts series
Written by Stacia Kane
Read by Bahni Turpin

Sacrificial Magic

Sacrificial Magic is the fourth book in the Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane, and I think we might finally be a year into the saga? Or pretty close? Most books seem to take place within a few days or up to a week, with several months passing in between each.

One of her boy toys graduated from Lead Thug to Drug Lord because she’d been unable to save his father’s life at the end of book four. Which of course means her situation has gotten even more intertwingled. And of course the stakes are even higher, at least on an emotional level. I mean, she’s already saved the world a couple of times which is kinda high in the stakes continuum, so …


Like most Bond films, it starts out with a seemingly unrelated case, and then straight into the interpersonal conflict. In case you haven’t had a chance to read or listen to the prior books, her boyfriend, Terrible, is the lead thug for Downside’s biggest drug lord. Her ex-boy toy is Lex, the son of Slowbag, the man murdered at the end of book 4. Beulah, aka Blue, is Lex’s sister, Chess’s first female friend.

Oh, right. Chess, short for Chessaria, is the protagonist. She’s a drug addict getting drugs from both drug lords, which still just barely keeps up with what she needs to drown out her personal demons. Like too many drug addicts in real life, she’s self-medicating to approximate being a normie.

And then straight into a bit of a sex scene. Not too much, because, like Sandra Bullock’s character said in Lost City, you gotta earn the throb. Instead, the author used it to compare love to a spell recipe. An ever-changing recipe. I like this analogy. But hey, I’m a nerd.

Chasing Magic

And Chasing Magic is the fifth book in the series.

Finally got to get some serious action without any church case involvement. And it was fun!

Someone, or someones, is trying to get to the City and let the ghosts take over. But it’s not the villain from the prior book, so there’s another mystery to solve. And it is a doozy!

Gonna try to not spoil it for you, but, well, I’m gonna. At least a little bit.

Chess and Terrible are busy with the whole codependents in recovery relationship saga. Something I know all too well, unfortunately. The author did a good job with the fears and emotions on this, in my opinion.

Chess breaks up with Terrible, tries to go back to Lex the Drug Lord, and finds out he actually had feelings for her, even though he comes across as a callous player. They kiss, and … no spoilers.

So the non-case crisis. Chess uses the church’s resources to research and investigate a rich family who lost their daughter. She knows these folks are somehow connected to what’s happening, and keeps digging.

Many happenings, including some friendship and mentor mishaps that create even more emotional tension for our protagonist. For example, what happens to the person helping her figure out why Terrible passes out around black magic, and how to stop that from happening. As this character keeps saying, actions have consequences.

The end is pretty darn f’awesome. The City and Downside have way too much going on, the Drug Lords make a short truce to fight it all, and Chess is the only one who can do the super-secret, double-voodoo whatsit.

And of course Chess goes through another litany of I might really die this time, but now I don’t want to, blah blah blah.

And. Well. Her ex-lover Drug Lord found someone to go against Terrible, and the two duke it out until, well, death. The winner is … no spoilers!

From a technical perspective, the narration is a bit more consistent, but there are still a lot of obvious cuts and such, sometimes mid-sentence. Yep. It can be kinda disconcerting, especially in the super-fast action sequences.

Which might be why it happens? The narrator is putting so much energy into the reading, and speeds things up. My assumption is that the splices are to fix slurred speech or words that weren’t quite what was written.

Overall, this was my favorite of the books so far. This is the last of the series available on Audible, but there are several more on Kindle. And some of those are available in Kindle Unlimited.