Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane - 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. From Amazon UK
I've wanted to try a novel by Stacia Kane ever since I followed the Fangs, Fur and Fey group over on Livejournal years back. I found her posts on there just so fascinating, so my interest in her books was her rather than because they sounded like something I would enjoy (fortunately, they did sound my like my cup of tea as well). So I pulled Unholy Ghosts out of my TBR pile and got cracking. And it was brilliant!
I have to say, from the very beginning, I thought this would be a book I didn't like. Chess is a drug addict. For reasons I won't go into, I am so strongly opposed to drugs that there aren't even words. She was constantly taking various drugs, and enjoy the effect they had on her, and it made me angry. It made it very hard for me to warm to Chess, and made it very hard to read. It took me a lot longer to read than it normally takes me to read an adult urban fantasy simply for the drug taking. I just kept putting it down.
However, Chess' job and the situation she got herself into intrigued me, so I persevered with it and kept reading, and it was really good! A much darker read than I expected, taking part mostly in the dark gang ruled underworld of a world where ghosts can kill. The ghosts are only kept at bay by the Church, a dictatorial establishment that took over after people lost their belief in the government when the ghosts rose. When her drug dealer wants payment for the huge debt she's run up, he decides she can clear it by helping Banishing the ghosts from an old, unused airport he wants to reopen for his own uses. But when she stumbles on a black magic ritual and a human sacrifice on the airport grounds, she finds there's more than a Banishment on her hands.
The book almost works as a mystery as Chess tries to work out whats going on. Who did this ritual? Why? And who is the malevolent, creepy, hooded ghostly figure that seems to be following her around? It's seriously creepy, and there's so much going on! The action in the book has some physical action, but it's mostly magical, which makes it so much more suspenceful; how long does it take from deciding to swing a punch to actually make fist-to-face contact? Seconds. But to cast spells? This isn't Harry Potter, it's not simply waving a wand and uttering incantations, there's making the alter, the protection circle, the burning of the incrediants needed, things done in a precise order, and incantations said at the right time. It can take a fair few minutes, which isn't too good when some terrifying ghostie with outstretched hands and sharp pointed teeth is coming for you. It's seriously scary! Gave me the jitters!
All in all, an awesome book, and I can't wait to read the next in the series, Unholy Magic! I just know it's going to be awesome!
Published: 27 May 2010
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Buy on Amazon US
Stacia Kane's Website