Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane – REVIEW
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. 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.
“If her life had taught her anything, it was that you never really knew what people had going on beneath the surface. People were shit. The only difference between them and animals was people felt the need to hide it.”
Unholy Ghosts is the first book in the Downside Ghosts urban fantasy series that currently consists of five books and some short stories. This was a re-read for me and I’ve already fallen back in love with Downside. Set in a world where ghosts are capable of murder and the only protection is the magic wielded by the Church of Real Truth, Churchwitch Chess Putnam is a debunker whose drug addiction has resulted in trouble with the local drug-lord. I loved the complexity of Chess’s character and her flawed nature as a heroine. She seeks oblivion with drugs and magic due to a troubled childhood and craves the rush both offer. Chess is definitely a difficult character to sympathise with at times but I never felt like I disliked her. Even her drug addiction is understandable.
“No shame in it. Some of us needs an edge on things make us feel right, else we ain’t like feeling at all, aye?”
Even though I hate love triangles, I don’t mind the one between Chess, Lex, and Terrible. It’s quite clear that Chess doesn’t have strong feelings for Lex, a rival crew member. The attraction lies in the casual nature of their relationship and the fact that he’s bad for her. Their relationship is just another thrill to Chess. Terrible is not typically handsome and his job as an enforcer means he’s feared by all of Downside. Nevertheless, as the book progresses, Chess learns to trust Terrible, the first person she’s trusted in a long time. Terrible is one of my favourite book characters – he’s complex and frightening, yet utterly adorable.
“And the living prayed to their gods and begged for rescue from the armies of the dead, and there was no answer. For there are no gods.”
One of the aspects I love most about this series is the vivid appearance and atmosphere of Downside that almost leaps off the page. Chess has a punk style with Bettie Page hair, whilst Terrible and other residents have a rockabilly punk vibe. Terrible even drives a black 1969 Chevelle. The Downside dialect further illustrates the neighbourhood’s unique nature and is contrasted with the regular speech of Chess and others of her status. Unholy Ghosts is a great book for urban fantasy fans but I think it would definitely appeal to a wider audience as well.
Brilliant first book in the Downside Ghosts urban fantasy series.
|About the Author
Stacia Kane is the author of the light-hearted romantic urban fantasy “Megan Chase” series starting with PERSONAL DEMONS.
She currently writes the gritty dystopian urban fantasy “Downside” series starring Chess Putnam and featuring ghosts, human sacrifice, drugs, witchcraft, punk rock, and a badass ’69 Chevelle. She bleaches her hair and wears a lot of black.