ENEMIES DON'T NEED TO BE ALIVE TO BE DEADLY.
For Chess Putnam, finding herself near-fatally poisoned by a con psychic and then stopping a murderous ghost is just another day on the job. As an agent of the Church of Real Truth, Chess must expose those looking to profit from the world's unpleasant little poltergeist problem--humans filing false claims of hauntings--all while staving off any undead who really are looking for a kill. But Chess has been extra busy these days, coping with a new "celebrity" assignment while trying on her own time to help some desperate prostitutes.
Someone's taking out the hookers of Downside in the most gruesome way, and Chess is sure the rumors that it's the work of a ghost are way off base. But proving herself right means walking in the path of a maniac, not to mention standing between the two men in her life just as they--along with their ruthless employers--are moving closer to a catastrophic showdown. Someone is dealing in murder, sex, and the supernatural, and once again Chess finds herself right in the crossfire.
I have to say that while Unholy Ghosts is extremely enjoyable, UNHOLY MAGIC is in a different league all together. As well as the main two plot threads being expertly drawn, there is also significant character development, which drew me in and made me care for the cast, as well as making me feel actively involved in the story.
It was interesting to see the two drug gangs first-hand and witness the tensions which threaten to erupt between them, rather then having the characters simply talking about it. Also; I finished book 1 with the [wrong] impression that the whole world was in some sort of global recession and drug use and other vices were rampant - but now everything has been fleshed out fully, so I see that it's the area Chess lives in (It's not the author's fault; I read quickly and sometimes fail to absorb everything).
Most importantly we learn what has caused Chess to grow up with a ton of self hatred and her finger poised over the self destruct button. We learnt in book 1 [Unholy Ghosts] that Chess is an orphan [though that's pretty common in this world] and information about her young life in various foster homes was hinted at then, but now we get the bigger picture in the form of brief flashbacks Chess suffers. It's this flashbacks and feelings she's tuning out with her growing drug use.
Speaking of her drug use; Stacia Kane has taken care to show how her addiction has affected her negatively. Book 1 didn't dig too far below the surface in this respect, but now we fully see [in Stacia's own words] the trouble her habit gets her into, how easily she can be controlled and manipulated and in seeking to regain control of her life and feelings she's actually given it up.
A well as a deeper understanding of Chess we also learn a secret about Terrible too, which is very welcome as the men in Chess' life were just mysterious secondary characters before, but now he's more likable then Chess in my eyes.
All in all despite the story being a standalone story in terms of the major plot, UNHOLY MAGIC is still a important series entry in terms of character development.