Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #1) – Stacia Kane

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Summary:

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.

Review:

So I decided to join up this cool (not-so-little) cheer/secret santa exchange called #otspsecretsister. Seeing that I’m a fan of Urban Fantasy, my sister included this book as part of her first package to me. She wanted to share it because it is a series she  loves, and she even went so far as to annotate the book with notes, a genuinely thoughtful touch! So what was my reaction?

I wish I liked it more.

To be sure, the premise is cool: the dead rose, and when the government and conventional faith could not resolve the crisis, the Church of Real Truth stepped in and took over. The Church is basically an atheistic organization that can weild magic and encourages its use while tamping down on various religions. While I do wish it had been more fleshed out, we got plenty to give the world a unique setting of its own. I also like that the creatures du jour are ghosts. As I’ve said before, I love me some vampires, but it is fun to mix it up.

But that’s about all I liked.

Meet Chess: She’s a drug addict and that’s about it. She has no other defining characteristics and we learn little else about her during our stay in her world, other than she was an orphan. Honestly, her drug use seems quirky more than anything and that bothers me. Drug use isn’t quirky. It’s debilitating. For as little as it impacts her, she might as well be smoking weed but she’s clearly doing some really duty stuff. And these drugs seem to have zero impact on her on. She’s not eating, she’s barely sleeping and no one notices that anything wrong? Like at all? She’s so high-functioning she might as well be sober. It ultimately adds nothing to the story – seriously, you could replace her drug addiction with a gambling one and it would have the same impact on her and on the story. That’s not a good thing. What’s worse, is that if you take away that part of her, there’s nothing left to define her. Addiction isn’t a quirk nor is it a character trait. Ultimately Kane just seems to use it as a lazy way to develop character and it did not work for me.

Beyond that, this book is unquestionably story (and not character) driven. I need the emotional investment to hold my interest, so the story just didn’t work for me. It was there. It was adequate, but it wasn’t anything particularly memorable or unique.

While I can see why a series like this would make it to series and why it has lasted as long (#6 is going to be released next year after a few year hiatus) it’s just not a series for me. Maybe if you like ghosts and don’t mind more plot driven stories it’d still be worth a look. I just personally think there are better Urban Fantasy series out there to recommend it.

Verdict: Skip It

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