Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Unholy Ghosts: review and giveaway
Urban fantasy isn’t my cup of strong dark coffee, but I had to check out Stacia Kane’s new release, Unholy Ghosts. Know why? The heroine is a drug user.
And I don’t mean the kind who smokes a recreational joint occasionally, or who tries cocaine once, feels guilty and Just Says No from then on. No, Chess Putnam is hooked on some fairly hard stuff and owes a lot of money to her dealer. Oh, and she’s a witch working for the Church of Real Truth and Debunking ghosts when she’s not banishing them.
Yeah, I’m hooked too.
The first chapter sets the stage for the story, and it’s a great example of how to describe the magic system without obvious infodumps. Have the ritual go wrong, seriously wrong, with the summoned psychopomp unable to differentiate between the ghost’s dead soul and Chess’s living one. Just about the time she needs a fix, too.
Things get even worse for her from then on, since her dealer Bump claims she owes him four times more than she actually does. But he’s got a way for her to work off the debt. There’s a certain abandoned airport into which he’s hoping to fly supplies – except his planes keep crashing. Whether that’s due to ghosts or not, he wants her to find out.
Even if Chess can handle that, a rival gang gets involved as well – their leader does not want Bump expanding his business – and there’s a mysterious creature on the loose, a demonic manifestation that feeds off dreams. Her attraction to Bump’s enforcer isn’t helping either. I kept wondering what would happen when he found out he had a rival for her in the other gang leader.
A couple of caveats, though. The drug use in the book is constant, and Chess doesn’t give it up by the end. She’s had a brutal past, and if she needs chemicals to make her present better, chemicals she will take. I love protagonists this flawed, but it’s something readers might want to be aware of.
The other thing is that I guessed who was behind the demon summoning – the person first suspected seemed a plausible candidate, but there was someone else who came off as ineffectual and therefore passed over. But that’s pretty minor compared to everything else: the action, the characters and the dark gritty world of the Downside.
And if this review makes you want to read more, I’m giving away a copy of Unholy Ghosts to a lucky commenter! Just leave your email address and let me know what interests you the most about this novel. Open to anyone in the US or Canada, until midnight (yeah, that’s appropriate) June 8.