I absolutely love the Downside series. The word "gritty" might be overused, but this is one where the author's worldbuilding and use of language (I may have started saying things like "whatany") create a world that's gritty and compelling. And so are her characters. Chess is a heroine that's profoundly flawed and knows it, and keeps making mistakes even though she knows the effects they'll ultimately have, and yet it's impossible to stop pulling for her no matter how much she's determined to screw things up for herself to satisfy her own sense of worthlessness. But here, in book 5, the threads of her actions in previous books are coming together, and while Chess is still a mess, she's maybe starting to realize that it's worth making an effort to not push good things out of her life. She's still working for the Church and Bump. The Incredibly Forbidden thing she did to save her lover Terrible's life a book or two ago is having side effects that trouble them both for different reasons. And of course, she's still a junkie. But she's starting to realize that maybe she does have it in her to quit pushing Terrible away.This book feels like it might be an end to the Downside series. I hope not, of course, but if it is, I think it ends in a hopeful place. Chess is forced to see the effects of her actions, and the ramifications of them for lives other than hers. There's no hint that she's ready to think about giving up drugs, but she's in a place to take a tentative step forward which feels like it might lead to more. I'm totally satisfied with the emotional arcs through the series, however draining they are and however close I feel to them.