Sunday, October 10, 2010

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Book Details
Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane
Paperback, 352 Pages
2010, Del Rey
ISBN: 0345515579
Series: Book 1 of Downside Ghosts


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.

Unholy Ghosts is a novel that features ghosts, but doesn't make that the sole focus. More than the ghosts, the book is about Chess, a debunker from the Church of Truth. Years ago, the ghosts of the dead came back to kill those still living. Faith in all religions vanished and the Church of Truth rose to fill the void. It is now well known that energy can be manipulated and used as magic through spells and charms. While everyone can used this magic, only those naturally skilled are hired and trained by the Church to protect the citizens from the ghosts. Chess's job is to prove that reported hauntings are fake.

I love a flawed protagonist and Chess is most definitely that. She's got a ton of issues from her childhood. She copes by using drugs. This is not recreational drug use, she's an addict. I thought this was a new and interesting trait for a main character. She functions and is able to do her job, but almost always remains in a drug-induced haze. Much of the book shows her addiction, which became a little too much by the end. It distracted from the story every time she had to pop a pill or snort some speed. We don't need to know ever time a character eats or goes to the bathroom and I think it probably would have been better if some of the cigarettes smoked and hits taken passed without mention.

Terrible, her "partner" for this investigation is unexpectedly lovable. He's just one of those completely unique, awesome characters. It's obvious he has a thing for Chess, and that she may even have an interest in him if she could stop focusing on his shady job and not exactly attractive looks.

The mystery Chess is involved in touches on all parts of her world, from her work with the Church, to Downside (the poor community where she lives), to two local gangs, to her sad past and more. The resolution was a complete surprise despite my believing I had it all figured out numerous times. Stacia Kane has created a fantastic alternative world that should continue to provide interesting situations and mysteries in future series books.



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