4/13 Publishing, $6.99, ISBN 978-1492115533
Wrong Ways Down takes place some time between Unholy Ghosts and Unholy Magic, the first two books in Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series, or so I’m told. It’s been a while since I read those books, so I can’t really remember. The fact that i can still understand this story just fine suggests that it can stand alone pretty well.
I am personally cynical when it comes to stories from a popular character’s point of view, served up once that character – usually male, for obvious reasons – becomes a favorite among fans. But to be fair to Ms Kane, this is an entirely different story, not the usual “same story, from the guy’s point of view so that readers can swoon over how much he wants to hook up with the special heroine” trick used by authors to make some extra pocket money, and with Terrible being the main character Also, this story offers a low fantasy interpretation of a setting that is, somewhat, high fantasy, and it’s an intriguing approach.
It’s also a much needed approach for me, since by this point, I’ve become weary of heroine Chess Putnam’s drug addiction being used as a very obvious plot device for thrills – whenever the author wants some trouble, Chess immediately feels the more negative effects of her pill-popping habit – and Chess’s increasingly one-dimensional and always “on” panic drama mode. Terrible is a dumb jock that is 90% brawn and 100% fanservice, so at least he isn’t like Chess, running around like a depressed headless chicken getting withdrawal symptoms when it’s conveniently inconvenient.
The story is very basic. Someone, or maybe something, is killing the girls and pushers under the employ of Terrible’s boss, and as his boss’s executioner and man of action, Terrible is on the streets trying to nail down the person responsible. Some say that ghosts are behind all this, but Terrible suspects a rival gang.
The plot of the story is pretty decent, although by this point I’m hoping that the author would come up with a different kind of plot. The cases of dead bodies piling up are starting to come together by this point. Terrible isn’t a thinker, so a lot of time he’s just charging ahead like a bull. That’s fine – he is what he is, after all, and, as I’ve said, that’s a nice change from Chess who would go into mini-hysteria each time she needs to do something. I’m not too enamored of Terrible as a character, however, so most of the scenes with him acting like a cow mooing over Chess are wasted on me. I’d rather see him beat things and people up than to go, “Chess! Chess! Moo!”
The thing here, though, I keep saying that this book is a nice change of pace from the other books in this series, When I try to figure out how I feel about this book in its own right, without comparing it to those other books, I realize that I don’t really have much to say about it. It’s okay. I’ve read better, I’ve read worse, and I don’t think I’d remember much of this book some time down the road. I may be more invested in this story if Terrible’s feelings for Chess are a bit more than just he putting her on a pedestal – there’s a lot about him that feels like fanservice, if you ask me.
Oh, and I’ve said this before, but I wish the author would be more creative with her characters’ cussing. Look, I get it that these are all tough people on the streets, but all they say is “fuck” every other word, the story feels like the end result of a kid discovering the joys of cussing for the first time. “Fuck” is easily the most overused, and therefore, most ineffective form of swear word, and I’m pretty sure the author could have expanded her characters’ cuss vocabulary for better effect. Right now, it’s all fucking this, fucking that, fuck you, and fuck everyone else too – the whole thing feels so juvenile rather than street.
Anyway, as I’ve said, read better, read worse.