Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 1)
by Stacia Kane
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Available: May 25, 2010
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Book received from: Random House
THE DEPARTED HAVE ARRIVED.
The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased.
Consequently, there are many false claims of hauntings from those hoping to profit. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully-tattooed witch, freewheeling Debunker, and ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for nailing human liars and banishing the wicked dead. But she’s keeping a dark secret from the Church: a little drug problem that’s landed her in hot and dangerous water.
Chess owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump. And Bump wants immediate payback. All Chess has to do is dispatch a very nasty species of undead from an old airport. But the job involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and crossing swords with enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.
Reviewer: Fiction Vixen
I think most people will say they like it when an author takes risks, goes for something different and writes outside the box. After reading Unholy Ghosts, I have to wonder if Stacia Kane is aware there is a box. Really, Unholy Ghosts pushes the limits in what we’re seeing in Urban Fantasy today. If you’re looking for a typical gorgeous, kick ass urban fantasy heroine who competently slays the bad guys and makes sweet hot monkey love to a sexy supernatural god-like hero then move along folks, there’s nothing to see here. This is a dark, gritty, urban fantasy set in a post apocalyptic ghetto-like world drenched in violence and drug use. It’s not pretty or shiny in anyway.
Chess Putnam is a witch working for the Church of Real Truth as a Debunker. When the Ghosts rose and wiped out a huge portion of the population, it was the Church and it’s magic that harnessed them and saved the world. Now the Church is government and it has sworn to protect the citizens of the world from the spirits that wish to do them harm. If Chess investigates a ghost report and determines it’s a hoax, she gets a nice hefty bonus. Unfortunately, she spends the majority of her income on her drug habit.
Now, I am not usually one to get behind a drug addicted heroine. Just thinking about drug use and the yuck that comes with it turns me off. And, I’m not going to lie, I had some serious trouble engaging with Chess in the beginning. Well, as long as I’m being honest, I cringed and winced my way through this book every time Chess popped a pill or snorted a line. I can’t help it, the Just Say No campaign of the 80’s and 90’s made an impression on me. However, I think the drug use was appropriate (can illicit drug use be appropriate?) in the story and it really would have lost some of it’s edge without it. I waited for the miraculous healing rehab magic but it never came. Chess is just as addicted at the end of the story as she is in the beginning with even more access to her drug of choice than ever thanks to a sort of double crossing she did. I’ll still hold out hope she’ll work through her addiction throughout the series, even if I have to call A&E and schedule and intervention. I do have to thank the author for sticking to her guns in keeping her heroine true. High five Stacia Kane.
Chess owes a huge debt to her drug dealer Bump and he offers her a way to work off what she owes. He wants to re-open an small abandoned airport for the purpose of flying in drugs but it seems some paranormal activity is causing him some problems. He can’t exactly call in the Church to check it out so he strong arms Chess into solving his ghost problem. Chess soon comes to realize that the ghost problem is worse than she thought when she discovers evidence of black magic on the scene, something that is forbidden by the Church. To make her problems even worse, a rival gang wants stop Bump from using the airport and they are willing to cut Chess a deal she might not be able to refuse to get her to flip sides. Chess is a resourceful girl and has had more than her fair share of hard knocks. She’ll have to figure a way to play both sides and stay alive.
If you need a little romance with your urban fantasy, then don’t worry, Unholy Ghosts has got that too. There is a touch of romance although it’s not all that romantic in the usual sense. Chess finds herself attracted to Terrible, her drug dealer’s main muscle. He’s feeling her too but after a drug hazed encounter, their relationship has become awkward. Terrible, every bit as tough and terrible as his name implies also has a bit of a soft vulnerable side when it comes to Chess and after their encounter, Chess has to tread lightly since involvement with him would be nothing but trouble. Lex, the rival gang leader who is causing Chess all sorts of stress has romantic intentions toward her as well. Between you and me, I’m on Team Terrible.
Unholy Ghosts is one of the best Urban Fantasy stories I’ve read this year. It’s rich with details, the suspense is heart stopping at times, and the world building is fabulously unique. Don’t let my rant about the drug use deter you from reading this book, you would be missing out if you did. While I don’t necessarily adore the heroine, I don’t have to approve of every action or behavior in a novel to love a book and I’m a big girl, if I choose to, I’ll get over it. Stacia Kane has taken some risks with smashing results. Luckily, I don’t have to wait too long for more from The Downside series, books 2 and 3 will be both be released in July, 2010.
“And you look like Elvis vomited you up,” she managed. “So?”
Purchase a copy of Unholy Ghosts
Other books in the series:
- Unholy Magic book 2 – July 6, 2010
- City of Ghosts book 3 – July 27, 2010
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I have one extra copy of Unholy Ghosts to giveaway. Your comment about this book or the review is your entry.
Giveaway is open until June 18, winner announced the following day. Open to all, good luck!