In a future world where the dead have risen and are attacking the living, the Church of Real Truth has replaced the government, and has sworn to reimburse those citizens who have been attacked by the undead. Chess Putnam, a fully-tattooed witch, freewheeling Debunker, and ghost hunter, works for the Church of Real Truth investigating claims of hauntings. But meanwhile her drug habit has left her owing a dangerous drug lord who insists that she settle the score by dispatching 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 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.
Unholy Ghosts, the first of Stacia Kane's new Chess Putnam series, is a cross between 'Ghostbusters' and 'Escape from New York', featuring punk rock, black magic, greasers, drugs, human sacrifices, and a black 1969 Chevelle.
I've chatted with a few people about this series, receiving a general consensus that readers couldn't believe how much they liked the books considering the main characters, um, flaws. Of course, hearing the rave reviews made me curious to see what all the fuss was about.
What I wasn't prepared for was the type of world that Stacia Kane has created here in Unholy Ghosts. Kane's imagery of a post-apocalyptic world that has lost all of the "old" religions, having been replaced by one new and all-encompassing church, is vivid and gritty. The new church's main responsibility is keeping the ghosts underground and at bay. The main character here, Chess Putnam, is a debunker, an employee out to prove that reported 'hauntings' are fake...if they aren't the church must pay up, if they are then Chess gets a big bonus.
All of these ideas, tied in with Chess' involvement with a local drug lord, and eventually his rival, add layers of interest to the story. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I can be a big chicken when it comes to the paranormal. In this sense, I find it even more interesting that I, myself, was able to continue with this story, even though it scared the bejeezus out of me a few times. Tyson? Eeek! Just the thought of that character makes me squirm.
More than this, it's the completeness of the world that is fascinating, from the blurbs at the beginning of each chapter that explain the ideology to the separations of Downside and Crosstown, and the different manner of life in these areas that captived me. Mostly, though, it was the characters that I fell in love with. Chess is constantly struggling with herself; Terrible, the drug lords enforcer, is slowly exposed to the reader as this lovable guy, despite his job (at least I loved him!)
Unholy Ghosts is a deep, dark, gritty tale with a some elements of humour sewn in and no small amount of magic too. Without being able to pinpoint exactly why, though I think it's just the cumulative effect of all the parts, I loved this story! Bring on Unholy Magic...