Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

(Downside Ghosts, Book #1)
Urban Fantasy


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 the first book in a fresh, exciting series that stands out as different from the rest in terms of its bizarre, intricately-built world, unusually tainted characters, and the scenarios/villains.

When people think of this series, several things come to mind, but the main recall is how different these characters are. Cesaria (Chess) as the protagonist is not the everyday type of heroine. She's a drug-addict with a past she tries to forget by numbing her brain constantly with pills, the "pipe", random and meaningless sexual encounters, and self-imposed isolation from her peers. She was a troubled child caught up in the system, who feels rescued by "the Church."

The Church has now taken over the world, but instead of being focused on any religion at all, they long ago disproved it. Ghosts are trapped underneath the city for punishment, while others are for "peace of sorts", and if anyone claims a haunting, a debunker is sent to do an investigation. All children are tested for magic ability, and if they make it - as Chess did - they receive a full education and career provided by the church. Chess is a debunker but instead of living at the church as the others do, she chooses to stay in "Downside", amongst the criminal element and her drug addiction.

The whole church/government angle is refreshingly original. The plots are dark, brutal, and leave a gritty, grim feeling. Violence is present but not detailed, more like the aftermath of it. Chess goes through the motions of meaningless sex, but it's not dominating in the plot or pornographically detailed. I would say it's short and sweet, but instead it's short, forgettable, and there mainly to illustrate emptiness rather than lust, romance, or emotion. Flashbacks hint to a grim, sad experience which helps explain the present.

Having a drug addicted heroine where most interaction is with criminals on her side is certainly a new bent. Despite some unlikeable attributes, still ended up (habits/jobs/actions) liking Chess for the most part. She's intelligent, sarcastic, and completely insecure. Terrible as another main character is  also quite different. The strange slang used as speech is hard to get used to at first but it grows easy once you get used to it. Terrible is described as unattractive and has the unpleasant job as being the main collector/thug of the local drug dealer, Bump. Bump is described as cheesy, completely disrespectful to women, and has his hands in a majority of crimes around the poor, run-down town.

This first novel didn't impress me all that much. It had a slow start and a lot of what's going on with the magic is confusing. Ghosts are not how we view them, and there's career related jargon made up by the author, such as "psychopomps." The characters don't really start growing on you until a bit later, so investment in their personal lives are a moot point when starting out. Once the book reaches around page 100, it becomes especially interesting and everything starts heating up big time.

Overall a book that, while not amazing, is unique enough to intrigue and want to read more. Survival type coping UF than heroine or happy ending type. Despite some unlikeable traits/jobs/actions of the characters, you end up liking them.

   Book Quotes:

“Bump stood in the middle of the room, wrapped in a heavy fur coat, with a black silk top hatcovering his fuzzy head and unnecessary sunglasses hiding his pale face. He looked like the Abominable Snowpimp.” 

“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.” 

   Book Itunes Playlist from Stacia Kane's Website:


  1. SKULLS by the Misfits
  2. ALTERNATIVE ULSTER by Stiff Little Fingers
  3. BLAST OFF by The Sonics
  4. 354 by the Devil Dogs
  5. I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU by Chuck Berry
  6. COME ON by Chuck Berry
  7. I WANNA BE YOUR DOG by The Stooges
  8. KILL THE POOR by the Dead Kennedys

Spotify Link - UNHOLY GHOSTS

Recipe for Beggar Soup from Unholy Ghosts 

   Reviews of the Series:

http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/city-of-ghosts-by-stacia-kane.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/chasing-magic-by-stacia-kane.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/sacrificial-magic-by-stacia-kane.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/unholy-ghosts-by-stacia-kane.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/unholy-magic-by-stacia-kane.html