The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack.
In a future world under attack from the undead, 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 and freewheeling 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 water.
Chess owes a lot of money to a dangerous drug lord who 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 a dangerous attraction to the drug lord’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.
©2009 Stacey Fackler (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“[A] dark futuristic urban fantasy….atmospheric and well written.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Gripping….Vivid characters and a wonderful sense of place….I was enthralled.” (Charlaine Harris, New York Times best-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels)
“Unholy Ghosts is a wonderful, weird, wild tale filled with gritty magic, punk rock, and macabre spirits. Kane’s world is dark, dangerous, and haunted, populated by hustlers, junkies and exorcists…and you’ll never want to leave. Simply the best book I’ve read this year.” (Caitlin Kittredge, author of Street Magic)
I had no expectations going into this book. At first I thought the reader sounded a little young for the main character but then realized that she needed the vocal range for all the other characters. This is a very dark, very gritty urban fantasy series. The basic set up is that in 1997 all the dead's spirits rose and started killing people...lots of people...almost all the people. The few practitioners of magic in the world eventually managed to prove themselves as true witches and banished the ghosts to the City of Ghosts under ground and a whole new post-apocalyptic world began. The main character, Cesaria Putnam is a Church Witch who debunks false hauntings. She's also a functioning drug addict. She's a powerful witch but ultimately as a drug addict hiding her addiction she's vulnerable to anyone who decides to blackmail her. The story is basically a mystery in an unexpected world with some wonderfully colorful and sometimes very cruel characters. I found the world building to be fantastic and the depiction of the life of a functioning drug addict was pretty harsh and exceedingly accurate. I personally fell in love with these characters (a stand out is Terrible, the local drug dealer's enforcer who is a whole lot more than he seems at first) and quite specifically the whole Downside patois and vibe. I have to say the reader for this audio book absolutely knocked it out of the park. I honestly don't know if I would have found the books (I have actually listened to all that are available now...BRILLIANT) as affecting if I hadn't been listening to Bahni Turpin's interpretation of the various characters. Really stellar work.
Reviewing Romance & Urban Fantasy
I started Unholy Ghost in October on my Nook. I could not get past chapter five. Either I wasn’t in the mood for it or it was the slang that got me.
"You won't talk to me, you don't talk to anyone else, you just hang around here in your precious ghetto with all these f-ing crazy people who talk like they've never heard a proper word spoken in their lives...."
But some blogger friends keep raving about the series. So I decided to give it another try but this time around I did it in audio book format, thinking it would help me get into the slang that is used by so many of the characters. BINGO.
I’ve read other reviews where people had a hard time liking or connecting with Chess because she is an addict. But I love the fact that Chess is not your typical heroine. Her world is dark and gritty and she’s had a crappy life growing up. She talks about bouncing around from foster homes. How the dads or even the moms would sexually abuse her. And since she has no support group to help her out; it kind of makes sense that she would turn to prescription meds to numb the things done to her.
Even though I personally can’t related to someone with an addiction, I believe reading it through Chess’s eyes gives me a little bit of understanding why someone in her position would live the way she does. But with as much as she takes I don’t see how she has not overdose by now.
Her addiction is what brings Terrible into her life. He is the muscle for Chess’s drug dealer, Bump. (I just love the names that Kane has come up with her for characters.) Bump informs Chess that her debt to him has doubled because of interest which is BS and she calls him on it. Bump tells her if she helps him with his problem with ghosts at an airport that he plans to use to bring in drugs that he will clear her debt with him.
After Chess reluctantly agrees to the deal she is teamed up with Terrible to complete the job. We first see Terrible the way Chess does, big guy with little thoughts. But has the two work together Chess’s view (and mine) of Terrible changes when see she how he truly is. He is self taught, the helps out weaker people in the city like kids. And he becomes someone that she can trust, which is a first for her. You can see a romance building between the two which is something that Chess doesn’t do. She is more into one night stands so that she doesn’t get hurt.
Over all Unholy Ghosts is a great start to a very dark Urban Fantasy series. But it’s not all dark there is some humor mixed in with Chess’s sassy attitude.
“If Mrs. Morton would stop verbally jacking off her husband and son, this would all be done so much more quickly, but then Chess figured it was just about the only sex the woman got.”
Unholy Ghosts is a MUST READ for Urban Fantasy fans! After hearing that each book is better than the last, I can’t wait to jump into Unholy Magic.
To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
Yes I loved this story. Chess owes a lot of money to a dangerous drug lord who wants immediate payback. All Chess has to do is dispatch a very nasty species of undead from an old airport. However Chess has several problems one of which is a nasty drug addiction.
She has to do all of this without her employer knowing she is involved with such seedy characters. To complicate matters she starts to have feelings for her druglords enforcer, a dangerous, uneducated, street smart thug. To further complicate things she starts a relationship with a rival druglord son. Convoluted, gritty, dark.....yes all this and more.
Now for the Narrator. Bahni Turpin has to be one of the most talented narrators in the business. Her command of various voices, inflection, deflection, male voices,and street talk(slang) were simply outstanding.
Yes, yes get this book. I know this type of book isn't for everyone but this one was so very good. Not for the weak or fluffly brained.
QUESTION : DOES LISTENING TO AUDIO BOOKS MAKE YOU SMARTER? If so, I'm. Freakin Genius!
I have read all three books in this series. (I think there will be six in all). What can I say, they just keep getting better and better.
The narrator, Bahni Turpin, is so good, that I have bought books just because she is the narrator. Ever heard of a little book called "The Help"?! SMILE, she is just that good.
Stacia Kane is one of my favorite authors. I love her characters, Terrible being my favoriite.
I have to recommend this to anyone that likes Urban Fantasy.
suspensful, shivery. I like Chess. She is a fighter, she gets her job done and seems to stick to her word even when she would rather not. And who doesn't love a muscle car.( the guy driving it is pretty exciting, too) We need more of Chess and the people that inhabit that dark, gritty, interesting world.
Takes awhile to get into these books, but by the the end of the second one I was hooked. Bahni Turpin is the best choice of narrator for this series. Gritty and not a pretty story, but fascinating at the same time.
Speculative Fiction Book Review Blogger
Stepping into Stacia Kane’s Downside world was like walking into an alternate universe where the Church reigns supreme, ghosts have wiped out two thirds of the population and the residents speak a language that’s entirely their own. The magical rules are numerous and complex, the world-building is extremely heavy and the influx of new terminology is beyond confounding. To sum it up in one word I felt lost. Thank goodness for my GoodReads support group because otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to make it through this audiobook in its entirety. Then again, I felt similarly when I first started reading Karen Marie Moning’s Fever novels which now rank among my favourite Urban Fantasy series’ of all time so understandably, I’m going to stick this one out a bit longer. At least until I discover what all of the fuss over Terrible is about!
I really struggled to connect with the main heroine, Chess. Her drug addiction frustrated me to no end; although I can understand the whys behind it, I still had a difficult time comprehending her need to dull her senses, especially given how dangerous Downside really is. You’d think she’d want to have her wits about her in case a murderous ghost decides to cross her path. Chess is a debunker for the Church of Real Truth which means that she’s supposedly one of their most highly trained employees. I found this hard to believe considering she does her job high on most days. A large portion of the mistakes she makes and her delayed light bulb moments during an investigation are caused by her drug use. There were times when I just wanted to yell “if you’d stop doing lines for one freaking minute you might be able figure this sh*t out!” I liked that she’s a flawed heroine but I also would have liked to see her sober for at least one chapter.
The world-building and terminology are definitely going to take some getting used to. I can’t help but wonder if I’m being penalized once again for choosing to listen to this book over reading it because I’m thinking that the physical copy probably comes with a glossary. On the flip side, I think listening to the audiobook does have a few advantages, namely being able to better grasp the Downside lingo. I like that Kane invented her own language for this series; it helps to set it apart from the crowd. I’m not going to comment too much on Bahni Turpin’s narration in this review because I was more focused on grasping the world than on her overall performance so I’ll save my feedback on that for my second kick at the can when I check out Unholy Magic.
After feeling immense pressure from my fellow reviewers to LOVE this book I can’t help but be a little disappointed that I wasn’t immediately swept off my feet by Stacia Kane’s first Downside installment. The plot’s entertaining, the dialogue’s memorable and the world-building left me in awe but the drug addicted protagonist was difficult to swallow (pun intended). Heroine and druggie do not belong in the same sentence in my opinion. Here’s hoping that my second trip into Downside will be better than my first.
This series has been a real find and a total surprise. I purchased the first one after reading some amazing reviews but was unsure what to expect. The heroine is a drug addict?? However, Chess is such a vulnerable and complex character that the listener can't help but love her. She is insecure, brave, clever, and full of contradictions. She is a fascinating protagonist and gets more interesting with each installment. Stacia Kane's world is edgy and unique. At times it is genuinely scary and at others it is grim, yet there is still love and hope to be found. Terrible and Lex add to a wonderful cast of rich characters. The other great thing about this series is the magnificent performances by Bahni Turpin. I honestly think the best way to experience these books is to hear her read them. She is superb - probably the best narrator I have heard. The books come to life and the characters are voiced so well its impossible to think of them sounding any other way. If you're a fan of urban fantasy with an edge this series is one of the best. I bought the first one and was so captivated I purchased all the others and had them finished in a week. Then I started again!
Wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy the audio of this series, but the reader is awesome! After purchasing the first book in the series and listening, I promptly bought the remaining audiobooks. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE this series and the audio version is fantastic!
This starts out kind of confusing, leaving you wondering if you skipped through a part, but it does come together if you hang there. Lots of drug use but it gets hard to put down. I found myself finding things to do so I could keep listening. This will appeal to fans of LK Hamilton and Kim Harrison. Undead in the context it's used in the publisher's blurb doesn't mean zombies, more along the lines of ghosts.
Ches is not a charchter you expect to like, a flawed heroine. She has her problems which make you want to dislike her, but the more you read the more you come to understand her lifestyle choices. I found the world and the other charachters helped build this unusual paranormal mystery.
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