When eighteen-year-old Chess Putnam is offered the chance to train with a special team of investigators known as the Black Squad, she feels torn. She’s never been a team player and hates how one male Inquisitor condescends to “the new kid.” But at her first bloody crime scene, she gets a taste for investigation—and is hooked on the high. Though the seasoned Inquisitors consider the series of ghost murders random events, Chess starts to detect a pattern. Is a psycho killer summoning ghosts from the City of Eternity and using them as murder weapons? As Chess gets closer to the dark truth, she puts herself in grave danger and risks losing everything she’s fought so hard for.My Thoughts: This was a thoroughly enjoyable, heartbreaking, oddly moving novella. Seeing Chess before the years of pills had ground her down, before she'd found her place as a Debunker, before she'd found her strengths as a Churchwitch was both illuminating and sad. Although she's in no way innocent or naive due to the childhood she had, she's ... more trusting, maybe. She *wants* to believe that people aren't all bad. She mentally chides herself that not everyone has an ulterior motive. She's terrified of losing the first place where she has a chance of fitting in and she's continually beating herself up when she immediately thinks that a long look means that the person giving it is trying to stab her in the back.
There was a lot to like with this story. Chess is on her first case and she's showing the leaps of intuition that make her such a good Debunker later in the series. She sees connections that others don't. Or maybe it's her ingrained distrust of people that makes her look deeper than most. Either way, she grabs onto the threads of this case and she starts looking to connect all the unconnected pieces. The members of the Black Squad aren't thrilled by a trainee finding things they missed. One is openly hostile, one tries to smooth things over and Chess' mentor on the case is creepy in her push to hook Chess up with any man that crosses her path. Seriously, Jillian was like a dog with a bone and Chess is still scarred enough from what she'd been put through in her foster homes that just reading about Jillian's concentrated attempts to get her to go out with any of the men made my skin crawl.
Bottom line: This was an enlightening look at Chess before her life is a constant inward spiral of drugs and lies. We got to see the beginning of her addictions and her dogged determination when it comes to a case. Well crafted and fast paced, this is an excellent prequel to the Downside Ghosts series.
Books in this series
The Brave Tale of Maddie Carver
0.5. Finding Magic - Kindle
1. Unholy Ghosts
2. Unholy Magic
3. City of Ghosts
4. Sacrificial Magic
5. Chasing Magic
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Finding Magic was provided for review by Random House through NetGalley.