Review: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #1) by Stacia Kane

How did I get it: The library, but I will be buying myself a copy soon. And adding it to my list of books to get people for birthdays/other holidays, natch.

Why did I get it: I kept hearing about this series. I was a little wary owing solely to the fact that I have been in some kind of Urban Fantasy slump but… Who could resist reading a book that features a character whose nickname is Chess and another character who is named Terrible? Not me.

How I would rate it: 5 out of 5 stars.


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.

Review: I am absolutely sans complaints and completely unsure of what to say because I just feel like flapping my arms and dancing about like Kermit the Frog because this book was basically the cure to my copious amount of Urban Fantasy-related woes. But I’ll try to give a coherant review because this book deserves one.

Similar to a lot of other 5 star books I’ve read in the past few months, Unholy Ghosts just makes me that much more convinced that there’s nothing wrong with holding books to high standards or expecting the world to occasionally give me some books written with people like me in mind. And I realize this book wasn’t written exclusively for me, but it was definitely a book for me and readers like me.

This book is what every Urban Fantasy series opener should strive to be, basically. The world is captured so perfectly and possesses both a gritty realness and a creepy magic involving the restless ghosts that haunt various locations. I loved the idea of the Church of Real Truth, of druglords dealing with paranormal problems, of a ghosthunting witch combatting unhappiness with addiction, and really everything that contributed to the awesome that was this book. The slang everyone speaks is unique yet believable and I totally loved it. The book even has a dysfunctional not exactly love triangle that makes sense. I also find it awesome that Unholy Ghosts was in limited third person, which is probably my favorite type of narrative ever. And although I was loathe to see this book end, I actually loved the ending and cannot wait to read the next book.

Cesaria aka Chess was a wonderful and flawed female protagonist. Her issues with herself, drugs, and the people she interacted with were really well-written and flawlessly executed. She was easy to care about and even when she made poor decisions that I disliked, I understood why she was choosing to make them. Words cannot express how refreshing that was to me as a reader. I don’t really need character to be pillars of morality or mental health, but I need them not to be too stupid to live and for their decisions to have an actual purpose. Chess was not stupid and what she did made total sense for her. Besides, she was awesome and I just loved her to pieces. I can’t wait to watch her grow through making mistakes and eventually learn to make better choices.

Terrible was anything but terrible, and if Chess doesn’t want him, I will happily take him off her hands only not because I want him and Chess to get together badly. In fact, if Terrible doesn’t hook up with Chess someday, I will die inside. I loved that he was scary, dangerous, surprisingly sweet, and totally messed-up in a completely different way than she was and yet in a compatible one. I loved them working together and reading about how they’re both much better at hurting or being hurt than they are at being vulnerable or open. I also could not be happier that they are actually becoming friends albeit very dysfunctional ones first, which so rarely happens in fiction.

Lex might grow on me, but somehow I think he will continue to irk me because he’s not Terrible. Which isn’t his fault but it is a problem. He was, however, necessary and I think his role in later books will be important too. Like I said, earlier, I didn’t have to like everything that happened in this book to get why it happened.

In conclusion, this book rocked! If you’re reading an Urban Fantasy book that you feel sort of meh about, please do yourself a favor. Put the book down and pick up Unholy Ghosts instead.


About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
This entry was posted in 2011 Reading Challenge, Library Perks, Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Review: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

  1. Missie says:

    My birthday is May 18th!

    Just so you know. LOL

    Though I haven’t read this book yet, I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the slang Kane uses in the story. I’m definitely curious to check out what that is all about.

    I, like you, have experienced many woes that have turned me off of the UF genre, so it is really good to read praise for books that hit the mark. And I think I’d have to live in another universe to not have heard of Terrible. Another reason I must check out this book.

    • LOL well then. I’ll keep that in mind. 😛

      Definitely. I am always relieved when I find an actual good example of how a genre can continue to grow and that the books in it can be awesome while still having some substance. Especially when I’m having a week or month where I just feel like I’m reading a whole genre wrong. 😉

  2. PABookChick says:

    “In fact, if Terrible doesn’t hook up with Chess someday, I will die inside. I loved that he was scary, dangerous, surprisingly sweet, and totally messed-up in a completely different way than she was and yet in a compatible one.” **** Brilliant description 🙂

    I hope you like the next two as much as I did. Honestly, each one is better than the last. There are so many layers to the characters in this series. I can’t wait until Book 4 is released! For me, it will be the biggest release of the year!

  3. lol. I think you might have a fight on your hands for Terrible. ;D There are many a women out there that want him too.

    Oh this is a wonderful read. I read the first two books and really loved them. I have the third one here but NEEEED to get the time to read it. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Reader’s Progress #11 | CSI: Librarian

  5. Pingback: Review: Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane | CSI: Librarian

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