Series: Downside Ghosts, #1
Published on May 25th 2010
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
THE DEPARTED HAVE ARRIVED.
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.
Great start to a series I know I am going to love!
Unholy Ghosts had a little bit of everything that I love in a good book. The writing was great, the mood was dark and intriguing, the characters were flawed, lovable, and complex. There’s action, suspense, romance, some steam, and a fabulously built world.
It is told by Chess, our heroine, in third person POV. She is a Debunker for the Church. The Church isn’t religious in this world; it’s like their form of government that is ruled through magic, Truth, and Fact. They took over after Haunted Week (which happened twenty something years prior)- the week when all ghosts surfaced and were actively attacking humans. So, Chess’s job as a Debunker is to investigate claims made by people about hauntings.
Before Haunted Week—before the Church showed the world what Truth was—they’d been a tiny group, devoted to the theory and study of magic. Now they ran the world. And she was part of it. It was the one thing in her life of which she was proud.
Chess is also a junkie. I knew this prior to starting this book and I have to say, it only made me want to read it more. Her addiction has put her in a tough spot. She owes her dealer, Bump A LOT of money. To settle her debt, he asks her to use her powers as a witch to do him a favor. This leads to her working closely with Bump’s right hand man, Terrible. As the story progresses, more characters enter the mix. Chess has to balance her job with the Church, paying Bump back, a rival gang member, Lex, offering her another out, and a potential conspiracy.
This book is pretty dark and it’s done so well. It’s set in Downside, which is a very rundown area, pretty much just a ghetto. There’s poverty, drugs, prostitution, you name it. The descriptive writing really allows you to imagine exactly what this area is like and feel the underlying malevolence. The characters of this area also have a certain dialect. I think it’s called “Bump speak?” but I think it should be called “Down speak.” It’s really hard to explain, but it’s very slang based and pretty much every grammar rule in English is thrown out the window. Lots of ayes, nays, ain’ts, missing words, and my favorite, “dig?” While it took some getting used to, I found it fascinating and thought it only helped me to picture this world and get into the setting more. Chess does not speak this way though; it’s mostly the men – Bump, Terrible, Lex.
What I loved most about this book was just the potential. I wasn’t immediately sucked in, but the latter half of the book really got my blood pumping. The whole book is actually quite intense because there is this dark, dangerous feel to everything. So many smaller things happen along the way then BOOM this huge LONG finale of sorts. And I think it has this HUGE potential to completely steal my heart and that’s because of Terrible.
This guy is no average hero. He’s a bad guy. He’s supposedly ugly. He’s the most feared guy in downside, doing all Bump’s dirty work. Killing, beating, doing whatever is needed.
Terrible was coming, his gait easy and steady, but the way his gaze fixed on (view spoiler) and the tire iron dangling loosely from his hand were more eloquent than anything else could have been.
Then he starts working with Chess and has to help her with her favor for Bump. The whole way through he is always there for her and protecting her. There is so much more to him, he’s not this big oaf that he appears to be and I love that he is so damaged and different from the perfect, model like guys in a lot of books. The fact that he’s described as ugly at times, and I still find myself falling for him and thinking he’s sexy is a testament to how awesome this guy is. The romance is very understated, it’s sexual tension at its finest. There are multiple “love interests” I guess you would call them, but they are all interesting in their own ways – good/bad qualities and beautifully flawed. You do even get a bit of sexy time.
“Terrible,” she managed. “You know how to use this thing?”
He pulled away to meet her gaze, and for a minute he was transformed. Still the same features, the lumpy nose and the jutting brow and the hard, dark eyes, but not ugly anymore. Full of character. Full of strength. She looked at his face but she didn’t see it, not the way she had before. The smile spreading across his features was intimate, sexy. The darkness of his eyes concealed so much more than she’d ever imagined.
“Oh, aye,” he said. “You gonna let me show you?”
I loved Chess as a character too, she’s a very unconventional heroine. I have such a soft spot for those; it just makes me love her more. She’s fucked up, but she knows it. She’s still a good person and she’s strong. Her rough past has made it so she’s never felt safe, she’s a bit paranoid but she’s kind of had to be.
If her life had taught her anything, it was that you never really knew what people had going on beneath the surface. People were shit. The only difference between them and animals was people felt the need to hide it.
I’m really looking forward to learning more about her and seeing her relationships grow. By only gripe is that it’s all told from Chess’s POV, but in third person. I wish this had been in first person, I think I would have connected even more to her. I did love her sarcastic, snarky attitude and the dashes of humor in this though. Can’t wait to dive into the next one! ♥
Things weren’t so terrible, after all.She was alive. Alive, and just high enough to feel good about it.