by Stacia KanePublished by: Del Rey/ Random House Publish Date: May 25, 2010 Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Series: Downside Ghosts #1 Source/format: Kindle E-book My Rating: Blurb 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.
After hearing a lot about the Downside Ghosts series, both positive and negative, I decided that I needed to read Unholy Ghosts and give the series a try myself. I have to say that I was not disappointed, I very much enjoyed the book, and I am looking forward to reading the next books in the series.
It definitely took me a little bit to get into this book, I was not in love with the book from the start, the characters and the setting and the language are all quite different from the average book, if you will. The setting is sort of post-apocalyptic. Ghosts had apparently taken over the city, giving rise to “the Church” a group of witches who have power over the ghosts and can send the ghosts back underground. There is no heaven or God or even faith. This aspect of no religion, no faith, well, it was a tough pill to swallow. There is not a lot of hope for the people in this world. Chess, the main character, has no hope herself. She is a witch who works for the church, but lives on her own, and she is very much addicted to drugs. Chess did not have an easy upbringing, she had it really rough. This doesn’t excuse her drug use, but as the story goes on, it is easier to understand how she turns to drugs.
In Unholy Ghosts, Chess is caught in a case for the church that coincides with a case she has to work on for her drug dealer. Her dealer forces her to banish ghosts from an abandoned airport, but there is a much stronger supernatural force at work than one mere ghost. The drug dealer has his enforcer, Terrible supervise Chess on the case, and Terrible helps Chess out as well. At the beginning of the book, Chess sees Terrible as just an enforcer, the person who brings the pain to those who anger the dealer. As Chess works with Terrible, she realizes that there is more to Terrible than muscle. This big bad enforcer has a softer side that is buried deep, and I fell in love with this unlikely hero.
The characters in Unholy Ghosts have major problems, they have hang ups, addictions, and their language is foul. However, as you get to know the characters, they grow on you, despite their problems. They are people underneath their issues. So, by the end of the book I was engrossed in the story and invested in the characters. While the world in Unholy Ghosts is cruel, the characters do their best to make their way in that world. They try to live their lives to the best of their ability, despite how they had grown up. They do the best they can with what they have, or they try to. However, I do hope that the characters grow, and maybe their dependence on drugs wanes.
The magic and the paranormal aspects of the book are very interesting. The witchcraft is different, there is no controversy with religious groups. Those with paranormal abilities are accepted for what they can do. Given, the political structure of the church has its own issues, but that just adds to the depth of the story line.
This is definitely a darker book, and if readers take issue with drug use, I don’t recommend reading this series. However, Unholy Ghosts is a creative and different Urban Fantasy book. I really enjoyed reading Unholy Ghosts and I am looking forward to reading book 2, Unholy Magic. Urban Fantasy readers, if you like the darker books, definitely read Unholy Ghosts.