Chess Putnam is a wreck in almost any way she can think of. She’s driven away her closest friend by sleeping with another man and she’s a drug addict that can barely function without a few pills. The only positive thing in her life, really, is her job as a Church witch and her faith in the Church’s ability to debunk ghosts. Even that faith is about to be thrown into question, though, as Chess begins working with a girl called Lauren, the daughter of the Grand Elder, a Church cop. Chess feels that there is something wrong about Lauren; her spells are wrong, her magic is wrong, but with the promise of a hefty check in the bank and little reason to pursue other paths in life, she goes along with it, only to find that the Church is not nearly so powerful as she’d thought.
I’ve more or less stopped reviewing most of the urban fantasy that I read on my blog because I tend to read books in a series very often and very quickly, and once I get to the middle of a series, it gets harder to keep track of spoilers and find something unique to say about each installment. But everyone, I loved this book in a way that makes me want to write about it, so here I go giving it a try once again. I don’t love it in the way that I love, say, The Remains of the Day or Among Others, but this was such an incredible, addictive, heart-pounding read that it satisfied every little desire I had for an urban fantasy book.
I really like the darkness that this series brings along with it. Chess’s city, especially Downside, is not a nice place to live. It reminds me of a Gotham city, except even more corrupt; the people she cares about are all generally drug pushers or addicts, except for those in the church, and her own life is an example of how a person gets so addicted to drugs that they can rarely care about anything else. But Chess does care about something else, and that something else is actually a person called Terrible. You see, in the last two books, we’ve been watching the relationship between Chess and Terrible develop, in a heart-melting, exciting way, until he saw something that turned him away from her completely.
The agony that’s resulted from this for Chess is incredibly intense – it took losing him to realize how much she really cared about him, and watching their relationship move on from this was honestly so emotional that I couldn’t believe I was feeling quite that much about these two people who are so incredibly broken. Terrible is a guy that scares the people of Downside as Bump’s chief enforcer; he is the guy who forces money out of people if they don’t pay up for their drugs. He’s so far from the charming rogues that grace some of my favorite historical romance novels that I doubt he’d recognize a suit if he saw one. But based on these books, I completely fell in love with his character, and with Chess and him together. Yes, she screwed up, but this relationship is simply addiction of the strongest kind. For them, and for me, the reader.
The story itself is good too, of course; the mystery around what’s happening with Lauren and Chess’s investigation is well worth following. But as always for me with a series, it’s the relationships that characters build that keep me going, and this series has completely, already, hooked me in. Very, very highly recommended.
I purchased this book.