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Book Rec: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

So the past 6 weeks have been kind of insane at my day job and I’ve hardly had the time to read anything, much less sleep. But I’ve had marked on my calendar at work May 25th as the street date for Stacia Kane’s fantastic UNHOLY GHOSTS for months. I finished ¾ of it last night and the rest on my lunch break today.

For those who don’t know, Stacia Kane writes urban fantasy. She has a series that slants more toward paranormal romance (at least in my opinion) that’s been out for a while before UNHOLY GHOSTS hit the shelves. I’m not that into the romance genre, so I hardly ever read it, but unfortunately, UF has become labeled as the “sexy heroine in leather who has sex with vampires and werewolves, oh my.” That's a broad generalization, and more importantly, my generalization. Take it with a grain of salt or a salt shaker, depending on your reading habits.

To be fair, publishing is a business and that’s what readers wanted and still want. I’m not bashing what UF has morphed into, but for the most part, there are only a few UF series that I read when I have the time to read anything. And that’s my personal taste. This whole post is a book rec, not necessarily a review, because I'm not rating the book. I'm simply reccing an author I like and I’m biased in the fact that I loved this book.

For me, Stacia Kane brought UF back to its gritty, noir-ish roots where the city and the world is as much a character as the protagonist. Stacia Kane’s main character, Chess Putnam, is typical in that she's a witch, atypical in that she's a drug addict. The rest of my opinion will be under a cut, so here’s your warning for triggery issues.

So a ghost apocalypse killed a good chunk of the world’s population and the Church of Real Truth rose up to save everyone. Chess Putnam works for the Church and debunks hauntings. The world of Triumph City with its Downside Market where the story takes place are rendered really effectively through speech pattern in the book’s dialogue. You have your well-educated, more precisely speaking elite, but you also have your street gangs and the poor speaking in slang. I’ll admit, the slang totally threw me back to my high school years.

I firmly believe that the entire, creepy plot of the book could not exist without Chess being a drug addict. Stacia Kane does not, in any way, advocate or glorify drug use in the book. She has said so on her blog and in guest blogs elsewhere. She has even stated that if drugs or the idea of them turn you off, please don’t buy her book. She wants her readers happy, not uncomfortable. I really, really have to respect a person who warns people about triggery issues that selflessly.

Chess is an addict. Plain and simple. What’s more, she is a functioning addict. She is not tweaked out to high hell or meth mouthed up or hitting rock bottom in the sense that people envision an addict to be, or how TV portrays them as. She’s like your suburban soccer mom with three kids running around, high on prescription pills to meet the demands of fifteen million schedules. You get the idea.

But it’s Chess’ addiction that drives the plot forward. Like any addict, functioning or otherwise, she’s always thinking about the next hit, the next high. It’s that need which puts her in dangerous situations, a need which makes her poorer than her fellow witches, a need which encapsulates the atmosphere of the story. Why and how Chess became a drug addict is very believable. Why and how she remains one is also believable. All of that is integral to the book. I don’t think the story would or, really, could exist without Chess being an addict. It just wouldn’t be the same.

What I also loved is that city is as much a part of the story as Chess is. That the people who populate all areas of it are so distinct that you can see the divide. Even secondary and tertiary characters are fleshed out very well. But you really get a feel for the city in how Stacia Kane writes her descriptive passages. They aren’t pages and pages of minute detail. They are streaked throughout the book and through Chess’ life. You see the city through her eyes, both how it is dangerous and safe, like all cities are.

The story is dark and gritty and just so completely different from what’s out there in the market for UF right now that when I first started hearing about the series months ago, I wanted it to be May, 2010. Immediately.

In Stacia Kane’s new series, the world is broken and people are looking for an escape. Chess finds hers in pills. But like every addict, you’re going to hit rock bottom and then you’ve got a choice to make. There are two more books in this series. Something tells me Chess is going to reach that moment of truth, or at least a moment of truth, and I really want to see how Chess handles it.

In sum, UNHOLY GHOSTS is part creepy horror, part old-school urban fantasy, and completely awesome. I say go out and buy it if it sounds interesting to you, because it’s not like anything you’ve read in a while. Trust me.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 27th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
Aaaand, I've got a new book on my list of things-to-buy-when-i'm-all-graduated-and-stuff.

Is this a series or just the one book?

And gotta say, I agree with the summary of UF. Too much romance, not enough plot and character development.
May. 27th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
I highly suggest buying it asap, like, tomorrow even! Yup, her book is the first in a trilogy. The second one comes out in the beginning of July and the third one comes out at the end of July. Don't you LOVE not having to wait YEARS for a book?! Go! Buy!
May. 27th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
Awesome review!! It's so nice to see someone that gets the book !!
May. 27th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
Oh, man, it was totally worth the wait, but now I'm dying for the rest of the series. Now July can't come soon enough! I loved this book so hard.
May. 27th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
They get better and better and scarier!!
( I'm lucky enough to have read all 3)
just wait!! They are amazing!!!
May. 27th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
I seethe with jealousy. SEETHE!
May. 28th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
I'll have to look into this author. You've got me interested.
May. 30th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)
I highly reccomend her. She's a great writer and this book is very, very different from other UF books out on the market. Reading it is kind of like a breath of fresh air.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )