Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review "Unholy Ghosts"

Title: Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1)
Author: Stacia Kane
Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy
Published: May 25th 2010 by Del Rey


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 have to admit I was a bit reserved when I started reading this book, because I heard that the main character was a drug addict. I once had to read a book featuring a drug addict for a class and I still shudder when I think about it. However, I decided to give it a chance.

Unholy ghosts is a indeed Dark Urban Fantasy. In 1997, the world as we know it changed. Ghosts attaced and killed enormous amouts of people until they were driven back and banished by an organization called the Church. After those events, all the old religions were obsolete and the Church gained power and now rules totalitarian.
Chess lives in a world where only Fact and Truth count, in a world without belief and without hope. She works for the Church as witch and Debunker. She casts out ghousts that haunt houses using legalized magic (or engery).
Chess lives in Downside, a ghetto of the worst kind where drog lords and pimps rule. Life has been hard on her, she doesn´t know her parents and has lived in numerous foster families. Knowing her story, her drug addiction even kond of makes sense. She is jaded, unable to tolerate any kind of close relationship, flawed and sometimes desperate. But even though throughout the book she is often on the brink of giving up, she never admits defeat. That´s what made her in my opinion a very strong and likeable character. I couldn´t really believe it at frist, but in the end I cared for her and her well-being.
Just like for the well-being of an other character which I thought to be "unlikeable". I mean, how can you possibly like the enforcer of a drug lord whose job it is to rough up people? Who is, unlike other male lead characters, not your typical tortured and misunderstood yet still gorgoeus and drop dead sexy hero? But somehow, the man with the telling name Terrible kind if sneaked his way into my heart. He starts out as cold enforcer for the drug lord Chess owes money to, but then, a relationship forms between him and Chess in a very subtle way. Those two do have chemistry together, I can tell you. More the Chess and Lex, the other potential love intrest for her in my opinion. Terrible is not a man of many words and he had, just like Chess a rough past which left him without any options in his life. Which is actually kind of sad, I think there could be more to him and that he might be more intelligent that he lets on (which he proves by his knowlege about the Wars). Terrible is a very good example for a character whose life has been determined in the worst kind of way not by him but by the circumstances he has grown up in.
As far as the story is concerned, the book has a good sense of pace. It is never boring nor predictable. I don´t want to give too much away for all of you who haven´t read the book yet, but I liked that fact that we see a heroine who makes mistakes and false judgements every once in a while which make for nice turning points in the book.
The world Stacia Kane has built is, like I already mentioned, very dark and desperate (I shudder at the image of the flesh eating maggots), but it is the perfect world for the story she writes (does that make sense?). Even the addiction to drugs did not bother me as I assumed. Chess does use heavily and her use infuences her actions and decisons, but it still fits in the story and is not too much in the center of attention.
There was however one thing I had slight problems with. These problems might of course result form the fact that English is not my native language. At the very beginning I had quite a hard time getting used to the slag that the inhabitants of the downside speak. I understood what was said and meant but it took me a while to get accustomed to it.
This does nothing to change the fact that UNHOLY GHOSTS is a capitivting debut and most definetly deserves the praise it got.
It is a bold choice to be made by an author to choose a drug addict as main character and write a story that revolves about the supposedly shady characters and I think not many authors could make such a book a good one.
Stacia Kane has definetly succeded. Her book stands out in the mass of Urban Fantasy books. Once you´ve started, you will not want to put this intriguing and wonderfully original book down until you´ve read the last page. And even then you will still want more.

4.5 of 5 points.

If you want to learn more about the author, visit her website where you can find a sneak peak from her upcoming book Unholy Magic, which will thankfully released very soon (July 6). I have it already pre-ordered! :)


Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I am so glad you enjoyed this book so much. :) I really enjoyed it too, to my surprise. This was the first book of Stacia's I have read and really enjoyed it. I will definitely be getting the next two and adding Stacia to the list to look into other books. :)