21 September 2010

Review: An Urban Fantasy to sink your teeth in -> Stacia Kane - Unholy Ghosts

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Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Del Rey; Original edition (May 25, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345515579
ISBN-13: 978-0345515575
Book Origin; Personal Library
Cover Summary:

The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen and constantly attack the living. 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 Debunker and ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for nailing the human liars or banishing the wicked dead. But she’s keeping a dark secret from the Church: a little drug problem that’s landed her in hot and dangerous water.

Chess owes a murderous drug lord named Bump a lot of money. And Bump 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 lust with 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.

My Review: With the hype and enthusiasm surrounding UNHOLY GHOSTS I was triggered to meet these characters who were on everybody’s lips. I wanted to find out what this world was all about and if it could fascinate me, because it might appeal to a lot of other people that didn’t necessarily mean it would get my seal of approval. Well, let me tell you that Stacia Kane’s first book in her Chess Putnam series; UNHOLY GHOSTS, served me with a fair warning this is one series that will feed my love for the Urban Fantasy genre. From the moment I started reading I was absorbed by the apocalyptic events that changed the world and its new rules. The Church of Truth leads the people now, protects them from the dead, there is no more faith, just fact. There is no government anymore as we know it, just the Church and Chess Putnam is one of its employees as a debunker whom is in essence a cross between a witch and a ghost buster.

The first thing that I noticed was the seamless blending of information regarding this new world, the introduction of a cameo of characters and giving me a beginning of a plot to sink my teeth in. UNHOLY GHOSTS is a story that captured my attention from the get-go and steadily fed my curiosity to explore more. With each chapter I found a snippet from the Book of Truth providing me with essentials in how the world has changed. While Chess did her work the plot gained a solid pacing and simultaneously smoothly provided more info regarding the City of the Dead, the rituals of her work, what happened with the world as we knew it and what is happening in the present. There was a rich and multilayered storytelling; the darkness of this world, the addiction of Chess, the gritty vibe that pulled me in and took me from bad to worse in a mysterious plot. These were also the reason that accumulated to the fact I couldn’t read fast or easily but rather had to take my time with the story told to really understand the complete picture.

UNHOLY GHOSTS is told from a first person narrative and Chess Putnam is quite the character to be fascinated with! She is another reason why I’m so impressed with Stacia Kane. Chess is a skilled debunker with a past that would make anyone shiver in horror. What makes Chess stand out among the crowd of UF heroines is the fact she is dealing with an addiction. With the first person’s point of view the author has a powerful tool to really delve in to highs and lows of an addict without making Chess unlikable. I could feel the bliss when Chess hooked her body up with a few Cept pills but also her angst of the repercussions her addiction will present her. Chess needs to balance so many things in her life that if one thing slips from her, everything could unravel at warp speed. Without baring her soul I knew there was so much more going on with Chess then meets the eye and she is one of those characters I love to take a journey with from start to finish.

Now if there is one other character who grabbed the attention within the plethora of characters then it was Terrible. With his quiet demeanor his presence was unmistakable. I first thought him to be just a muscleman for drug lord Bump but he turns out to have a depth of character that pleasantly surprised me. He and Chess together have an incredible chemistry going on which I found one of the strong suits within this story and the development of this something to be looking forward to! There is no romance to be found though Chess does have some bump and grind moments that sparks and sizzles. Her connection to Lex, which differs in vibe from the one she has with Terrible, brings an interesting character to the game and ups the ante even more.

There are of course many more characters with some of the most unusual names like; drug lord Bump & Slobag, and there is young Brain too. Next to fellow debunkers, Church Elders and Goody’s Downside really came to life for me via Chess. It’s a dangerous place that houses the most interesting characters and while it is a bleak setting the people give it color with their unique personalities.

I really have to give kudos to Stacia Kane for bringing characters to life via her voice who are flawed and real. Along with a world that really sets the tone there’s also an eerie tension coming from the mystery. As I got comfortable with everything else the plot worked its mysterious magic when I received a bit of info here, some revelations there, and it was like gathering puzzle pieces before I finally got to see and understand the complete picture that answered all my questions. Assumptions are being made by Chess that lead her to a few suspects but all the while the author keeps me on my toes. The tension was ever present and the conclusion a surprising one I didn’t see coming for the better part of the story which is just the way I like it!

From start to finish UNHOLY GHOSTS is a full-bodied story with a unique concept. Powered by the writing voice of Stacia Kane I found every significant ingredient of characters, world building and plot blend in to a powerful read that turns out to be quite the calling card for this new Urban Fantasy series. I was impressed and very eager to find out where the author is taking Chess and Terrible next.

4 stars

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  1. Yay, I am so glad you liked it! It's always a thrill when someone loves a book as much as I do. Now would you say you have Terrible Fever???

  2. I'm so glad you liked this one. The reasons you listed were why I loved it so much. I can't wait for you to get Terrible Fever with the rest of us.

  3. YAY!!

    I'm so glad you liked it - just wait for Unholy Magic..even better ;)

  4. @Stacy - I'm definitely having an increase of temperature but not exactly a fever yet *grin* I'm keeping my eye on Terrible though!!

    @Buckeye Girl Reads - Like I said on twitter, book 2 and 3 are hopefully in my hands this weekend so I can continue this incredible journey with Chess and Terrible :)

    @Mandi - I love it when a series continues to deliver and many are saying it only gets better. I'm ready to experience it :)

  5. I've heard so many great things about this series and I love the whole concept of the book. It's different and I can't wait to get my copy.

    Stephanie G
    Paranormal Haven

  6. Great review! I'm glad it held up to the hype for you. Thats what I'm always worried about when I read books that have been praised by so many readers.

  7. Love love love this series. City of Ghosts my fave *cough bathroom scene cough*

  8. I've seen so much about these books on twitter. Everyone loves this series. I won the first two books and look forward to reading them.
    I think I might have to read them sooner than later
    Great review Leontine.

  9. I agree with you I though the world building was fantastic and I never had the sense I was being fed information, it just happened. I love Terrible and he only gets better with the series. Keep reading L, you're going to love UM an COG!!

  10. @Paranormal Haven - Be sure to have lots of reading time. I was engrossed from first chapter and read the first hundred and eighty five pages in one sitting ;)

    @Danielle - That is a fear that sometimes niggles me too but I reading various reviews it really triggered a few personal strings with me I love in a story. So I took my chances and so glad I did!!

    @Smokinhotbooks - bath room scene? I so need to know what that is all about *grin*

    @Elaing8 - You're so lucky that you've won the!! The books will hopefully hold many pleasurable reading hours for you too :)

    @Fiction Vixen - I have a ROOB b-day party coming this saturday and I'm so keeping my fingers crossed bk 2 and 3 are among the pressies!! Because reading them is something I NEED to to ASAP :)

  11. Must have! No, I have too many books to read....*eyes xmas wishlist* ;)

  12. Ack hope you are feeling better hon! Sounds like a very different world in this one I might have to check it out. :) BIG HUGS and sorry for being MIA again been crazy busy which is good for the wallet but bad for my social and blog hopping lol.

  13. I didn't think I would like this series as much as I did. It took me awhile to get into at first and I didn't get Terrible fever in the first book and figured "oh,well" but after book 2 and 3 - I'm hooked!

  14. So glad I bought these books and I'm even more excited now to read them after your review. I've always thought we had similar reading tastes and with your seal of approval, I know I'm in for a good ride.

    Great review!!

  15. @Blodeuedd - This would make a fine Xmas pressie *grin*

    @JennJ - A happy wallet isn't bad either these days :)

    @Patti - From the start I was drawn to the gritty themes and setting. I just had to discover it all for myself :)

    @VFG - I look forward to talking Chess Putnam stories with you!

  16. I absolutely love this series and I'm so pleased to read that you enjoyed the first book! But take note, this series gets even better *and so does Terrible* ;)

  17. This book is on my shelves ever since I heard KC raving about the series. After reading your fabulous review I'm eager to start reading it. I love characters that are flawed and real and I'm really looking forward to the seamless introduced world building.


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