2012, Del Rey
Series: Book 5 of Downside Ghosts
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.
The Good: Definitely better than the last book. The constant mentioning of Chess's drug use finally has a point beyond reminding us that she's an addict. Maybe, possibly, please let it be, the issue of Chess's drug addiction and the way it effects her life will actually be dealt with. At least we've reached a point where it's escalated enough that something has to give. The stakes seemed well above normal in Chasing Magic. Every part of Chess's life could come crashing down with a tiny misstep. The only thing remotely solid is Terrible and even he can only take so much. Lots of tension leasing up to some amazing action.
The Bad: Deep down, Chess hates herself. This has become more and more obvious over the course of the series. Either it stems from her addiction or is the root cause of it. Since we haven't gotten more than bits and pieces of her life before the series started (all of which sounds horrendous and gives credence to the root cause theory), we basically left guessing. Either way, her self-hate leads her to be self-destructive and and near-constant bemoaning of how she's worthless. Not worthy of the Church's trust or Terrible's love. Not worthy of anything except an addict's death. It's a downer, obviously. She's impossible to like at this point. While a seemingly accurate look at the inner monologue of an addict, it's a hard and often unpleasant read.