Ed. note: You knew we liked this, but we thought a fuller review was in order. Also, we’ve read the sequel. It gets even better.
Rating (out of 5): 5 stars
In the Orwellian future of Stacia Kane’s Unholy Ghosts, the Church of Truth runs both the moral and legal elements of society, the afterlife is known and outside the City of Eternity ghosts are evil and bloodthirsty.
The Church, and its staff with magic ability, manages the ghosts. If you are haunted a church employee will come to your home, send the ghost back underground and write you a check for $50,000. These employees are called debunkers for a reason: most people fake it.
Chess Putnam is a debunker. (Though, those in Downside just call her Churchwitch.) She investigates reported hauntings, busts the fakers or uses her powerful magic to remove the ghosts. Stacia Kane presents Chess to us in such a way that we can’t help but fall for her. She’s created a hero with more obvious flaws than another other protagonist we can remember.
Her biggest flaw? Chess is an addict. She manages, using her Church bonuses to pay her dealer. Popping uppers and downers, Chess tries to keep herself focused while numbing memories so she can function.
Until now she’s kept the two worlds apart, but her dealer has need for her skills. He thinks he has a ghost problem and expects Chess to solve it or she can owe him triple her current tab. Performing this kind of magic and using Church supplies to investigate, without official sanction could get Chess locked away, executed. But her need for pills and speed is greater than the possible consequences.
The results of her acceptance: banishing real ghosts, dealing with fake hauntings, murder by oil injection, near-death, encountering wraith military battalions and getting put between rival drug dealers.
All the while we’re reminded of the overwhelming presence of The Church of Truth by the excerpts from Church documents that open each chapter.
Unholy Ghosts wraps its bony fingers around readers from the first chapter and pulls us along with an ever quickening pace. It’s gritty, it’s intense and it’s utterly amazing.
Honestly, we’ve never read anything like this – urban fantasy or otherwise.
The second book in the Chess Putnam/Downside Ghosts series is the recently-released Unholy Magic (it’s even better than Unholy Ghosts) and the third book, City of Ghosts, will be released in the U.S. on July 27.