Aug 3, 2010

Posted by in Reviews | 10 Comments

Review: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane (Downside Ghosts #1)

Urban Fantasy
May 25 2010
Mass Market Paperback
352 pages
Del Rey

Kick Ass Chick – Chess Putnam

From Goodreads

“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. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and 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.”

I originally saw this new series by Stacia Kane mentioned on Karen Marie Moning’s blog.  She said some really fantastic things about it.  She called it “dark, edgy, sexy” and said that it “pushes the envelope.”  “Urban Fantasy at its finest” she called it.  Well, that definitely caught my attention.  So I went to Goodreads to read up on the series.  To be honest, after reading the blurbs, I didn’t think I would enjoy the books and decided against checking them out.  But the buzz surrounding this book was overwhelming!  It was impossible to visit blogland and not see it being raved about.  Fiction Vixen – 5 hearts.  Wicked Little Pixie – 4.5 stars.  All Things Urban Fantasy – 4 bats.  Smokin’ Hot Books – 5 smooches!  Hmm…Then I thought maybe I was a little quick to dismiss this series.  So, while on vacation (which, of course, included a visit to the book store) I picked up “Unholy Ghosts” and read it.  And what did I think?

The world that Kane created is very interesting.  Ghosts have been banished, but some escape (or hide out) and haunt and hurt people.  Chess’ job as a Debunker is to get rid of them – to send them back where they should be.  Reality for the people of Downside is quite grim.  There is no religion as proof of an afterlife has become a scientific fact.  The Church (Chess’ employer) rules and pays anyone for the inconvenience of being haunted.  Chess must try to disprove their claims.  If anyone is caught fabricating a ghost story just to get paid, they are punished – and Chess is rewarded.

This is not a fluffy, cutesy bunny rabbits running through a field of yellow buttercup flowers kind of book.  This is a raw, gritty and dark story set in an equally raw and gritty setting.  It is no way a paranormal romance title – it’s a real urban fantasy tale.  You do get a smidgen of romantic tension, but overall the story is about Chess, her mission and her addiction.

Chess is one of the most complex characters that I have read in a while.  She is a drug addict.  At first, I wondered how that would play out and affect her persona – and my opinion of her.  It didn’t take long before I noticed that her drug dependence added a vulnerability to her.  I like that the ‘high’ aspect of Chess is not played up.  This book is not a pro-drug ad, nor is it an anti-drug ad.  But the drugs do play an important role in the story.  They are part of Chess and her life.  They affect her reactions to the situations she is faced with – both good and bad.  They show how she has trouble dealing with her life without having a crutch and make you wonder all the more about her and what brought this dependence on.  Therefore, you keep reading.  Chess is strong and brave, but very human.  She feels scared and alone.  She has trouble relating to people and forming relationships.  I think that is why her relationship with Terrible is so captivating.

Terrible is another interesting character.  He is not an attractive man; therefore he is not your typical hero.  He is Chess’ drug dealers’ strong arm.  But he helps Chess along her mission and proves to be invaluable to her and her job.  He is a good person and a good guy to have on your side.  He may even be a good friend for Chess.  Now if only she would let him in…  Lex, a competing drug lord’s something (we’re not too sure) is a compelling character too.  The ‘street’ dialogue took a little getting used to, but it quickly became an easy reference as to what side of the tracks the characters come from.  After a while, it even made me smile.

Overall, the story was gripping and hard to put down.  The second half of the book was really exciting.  The last few chapters were a real rush and impossible to put down.  “Unholy Ghosts” is an impressive start to a series that holds great potential.  I’m looking forward to reading more about Chess and Terrible in the next book “Unholy Magic”.

4 stars

Giggle worthy quotes

“Of course, it had been stupid to trust a word Lex said and go into the tunnel to begin with.  It had been stupid to sort of agree to this.  Hell, pretty much everything she’d done in the last few days had been stupid.”


“Everything was gilded or covered in fur, as though Bump had visited the Liberace Museum and decided to go it one better.”

  1. Yay!!!

    Just wait for Unholy Magic…OMG!! My fav book of the year. Period. (I haven’t read City of Ghosts yet though….)

  2. Mandi – I’m about 75% through Unholy Magic — and my heart hurts! City of Ghosts is in the mail somewhere…lol

  3. I ordered all 3 books. I have a feeling I will be a Chess addict soon.

  4. KT – A Chess addict! I like it 🙂

  5. I have to admit I was having a hard time getting into this book. I couldn’t decide whether I liked the story or the characters but I was oddly compelled to keep reading. Then I got to this line:

    Terrible: “Chessie. Never thought…so pretty…”

    I haven’t been able to put the book down since and I’m finding the other things I have to do annoying. Thanks for another great suggestion!

  6. Allison – I felt the same way while reading this book. I liked it but I wasn’t totally sure about it until I reached a point where I found it was great. The next book is even better and the third book…oh my wow!

  7. Ginny – I admit I was stalking and this is the resoan why! How could I stand to wait to see these beauts! You are so good at what you do. And I like how you didn’t mention that with age and Paige also came defiance and the ability to say no to practically everything we asked her to do! Outstanding work!

  8. Well, the weatherman changed his story again. Calling for off & on rain Tuesday – Wednesday and again Friday & Saturday. Well let’s hope it’s more off than on with the rain. I have also changed my play. I am now planning to head back down and be there Wednesday – Saturday. This way we can hopefully get some good pictures between rain showers.

  9. It may come AFTER the debate, I hadn’t thought of it that way but it IS a great way to hit Romney and hope that he can’t get a *message* out there… I don’t think Americans will fall for it, not SMART Americans, and lately, even those on the LEFT are falling out of love with Obama…

  10. That’s a skillful answer to a difficult question


  1. Review: Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane (Downside Ghosts #4) | Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks - [...] in the Downside Ghosts series - Unholy Ghosts Unholy Magic City of Ghosts Sacrificial Magic…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *