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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 23 May 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This was an utterly compelling read. The story is totally original and in the crowded urban fantasy/horror market, Stacia Kane has produced something that stands out as wonderful. Some of the cover quotes mention 'ideal for fans of Charlaine Harris' and on this I would exert caution. If Charlaine Harris is at the softer end of your reading pleasure (as she is for me, a die hard horror fan) you will love this. If however, Charlaine is as dark as you want to go then Unholy Ghosts is not for you. because this is dark, sticky, violent stuff.

The basic story revolves around a not so distant future or alternative now where there has been a horrific surge in ghost activity. No moaning, chain rattling, making you jump type ghosts these. These are killing people indescriminately, violently, horribly and are not interested in communing with their ancestors. And so an offshoot of mystical belief that has the power to banish and subdue these murderous entities has replaced governments and religeons globally as the seat of power. This is the Church- but nothing remotely christian about it and this is not a religeous book in the slightest.

Chess is our notional heroine, a drug addicted adult orphan, been through the care system, been abused and hurt countless times and seeks refuge in the safety of Church power and her beloved drugs. As a largely functional addict, she bumbles through her life until she suddenly finds she has racked up more drug debt than she can pay back. Politely declining the offer of working the debt off on her back, she takes the alternative offer of clearing an abandoned airfield of a ghost so the local drug lord can start shipping in new product more cheaply. How hard can it be right? This is, afterall what she does for a living.And there the pedal firmly hits the metal- plot spirals into counter plot, threats mount and soon Chess is up to her eyeballs in trouble and sinking fast.

With a clear, detailed and well written style, moments of chilling fear, gruesome, horrific violence, gore and sweaty action, this is a truly exciting read. Be warned, there is quite a bit of drug discussion in this novel and addiction is never really discussed as a bad or problem ridden thing, just as the norm, so avoid giving this novel to an impressionablle or teen reader.

Just to really spice things up, Ms Kane has given us a bevvy of truly hot, hard and violent men that pepper the story. This includes the hottest, meanest, most intriguing and perplexing guy to stalk the pages of fiction for a while- Terrible. Wow what a character. If he was real i'd have to go find him, so hot under the collar did he get me! Unlike other urban horror though, this isn't a bonk fest like Laurell hamilton nor a twee romance like Ms Harris. This smacks of real life and the confusing, bewildering attraction we can all feel for someone who may do us no good whatsoever- or be just what we need.

I can't wait for the next installment of this series. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2010
I thought this book was one of the best urban fantasy books i have had the pleasure of in a while. Chess putnum is a class A heroin (LOL)She is kick ass but is not super together. The book has an aura of social commentary but not in a bad way. Chess is vulnerable, she doesn't live 'on campus' with the other churchwitches, she has had a hard life and lives in an area of town policed by two warring druglords. Chess gets involved with both but she has loyalties. The world building is beleivable, the side charachters are so intersting. Chess had dealings with both enforcers, Terrible who is Bump's underling, and Lee who is Slobag's. Be prepared to stay up with this one its fantastic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2011
I read a lot of fantasy, not much of it urban. This is the first of Stacia Kane's books I've read and, although not particularly a fan of the urban fantasy sub-genre, I am now firmly hooked on her writing.

Unholy Ghosts is richly imaginative with a cracking pace that left me breathless. The heroine, Chess, has the knack for self-sabotage typical of the emotionally damaged addict, and my heart ached for her as she made one bad decision after another. I couldn't help hoping that she would get her act together, which was one of the aspects of this book that kept me reading. Now and again she does manage to save a situation, but only just, and more by luck than judgement. Stacia Kane manages to make her main characters quite unlikeable and highly sympathetic at the same time, which is a clever balancing act. I fell in love with Terrible partway through the book and couldn't believe how stupid Chess was... only I could...

The compelling central characters and their relationships are well matched by the complexity and coherence of the world Stacia Kane has created. Overall, Unholy Ghosts reminds me of some of the work of Philip K Dick and William Gibson, addressing similar questions about the nature of society and the essence of humanity. Which is not to say that this is in any sense a heavy read. Some passages are quite scary, and at times I found myself reading through my fingers. But for me, neither the drugs nor the sex nor the horror are gratuitous, they all fit with the crowded gritty urban environment and its supernatural element.

I loved the characters' names. In fact I loved the whole thing. Not everyone will, but I did - so much so that I'm now going to download the next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I wonder if the concept for this book came from a need to drop something different in the expansive depths of urban fantasy or whether the reader is being treated to a glimpse of Kanes subconscious darker side. Regardless of which and why this is an extraordinary example of its type of genre.
The main character is an anti heroine par excellence and like marmite, the reader will either love her despite her failings or hate her with the passion born of hatred.
Me, myself and I are on board the love boat.
I enjoyed the darkness of her character and the way she makes no excuse for being who she is. She lives as she feels, which is in the moment. However behind all that carelessness and silmultaneously free as a bird attitude hides the hurt and scared child, as often is the case with addicts. Hidden behind the addiction is the pain of past horrors and present indifference.
The world surrounding the characters is dystopian in its nature with strong elements of paranormal and occultism. The church leads and guides as a dictatorship with cult like presence. I found it extremely interesting how Kane took the outside population, who are living in ghetto like habitats, and has had them regress in their language skills. So rather than use the future as a scenario, in which we find the population more advanced, we in fact find them going backwards. This is demonstrated in the way they communicate.
I found the concept fascinating, daring and I look forward to reading more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2011
I am so glad i gave this book a try. The first few pages didn't do it for me at start, then i started getting into the dark twisted dystopian world of Chess, the addicted witch in a post-apocalyptic world where ghosts can kill. The ghetto where Chess lives, Downtown, is as grim and dark as some places in London i ve lived, the drug lords and enforcers ring so true in the way they speak and relate to each other, its surreal. I have never read a more honest, less embellished dark urban fantasy series that gripped me like that due to its suspense-full plot, the relentless speed of action, the unorthodox and amazing characters (like Terrible and Chess and the way they relate to each other), the world-building, the grim dystopian atmosphere...
I 've immediately downloaded the other 2 in the series and will read till the wee hours!! Absolutely recommended to fans of the darkest urban fantasy suspense lovers with a romantic twist.
The addiction bits didn't bother me as much as other readers, its so honest and real, i was fed up with the prissy heroines that drink only water, don't cuss and have golden morals all the time, and found that Chess was so freshly different, even in her own tortured, twisted way...and i think her drug addiction is explained more in the second book. Read it if you dare!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Having heard of Stacia a good while ago from friends at the Reluctant Adult's book blog (if you haven't checked it out you should do as there's a lot of Urban Fantasy talent over there) I really couldn't wait to get the details as the book blurb really was nifty.

Within was a protagonista with a drug habit, who was also struggling to deal with her psychic abilities alongside a changing world and one that has the majority of people in poverty. This not only allowed the reader to not only form a strong bond with her but also aided the reader to sympathise with a world that's literally gone to hell. Not only is this a brave move on the authors part but will be something that will either have readers raving or ranting at her creativity.

Don't get me wrong, I love the authors writing, the characters are rich, the story arc will keep you gripped and the dialogue is not only sharp but witty to help lighten the sombre setting. It's brave, it's a great read but above all else it's the depth and complexities of the characters that makes this a wonderful read for me. Stacia is definitely a name to watch and with the other two titles to be released shortly will definitely keep a readers glued to see what else shall unfurl.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2010
Having just started reading books in the supernatural genre, and vearing off from my usual vampire novels I was delighted to read Book 1, book 2 and 3 within a week! I described to my friends the Sookie Stackhouse novels as being like 'Twilight' for open minded grown ups and this series is like 'Supernatural' for the same.

Chess is a drug addicted witch who has some real self esteem issues relating to her violent and abusive childhood. However, she is one tough cookie because of it and I loved her character. The action is pretty non-stop, and there is some strong violence in these books making them unsuitable for teens/younger readers. The language of some of the main characters is sort of gang/street and whilst strange at first I soon got used to it'

You MUST read all three books, Chess's realtionships are complicated and can seem abusive in their own right but it is essential that you read them through to their very satisfactory conclusion. I adored Terrible's character.

I will not be getting rid of this series of books, they have earned their way onto my bookcase full of novels with characters that I have grown to love and will quite happily read again like Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh and J R Ward.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 June 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This story is rather different to a lot of what I've read before. It's set in a near-future where the dead have risen up to kill the living, with a Church existing as the shield between the two (that's one thing I liked - for once, the Church organisation wasn't some shadowy insidious organisation; it represents an important home and refuge for the main character). The main character struggles with a drug addiction. The premise is intriguing, and one that coaxes you into the story. It's a richly imagined world, with complex rules of witchcraft - although this becomes a bit of an issue sometimes, because all the complexity means that it can get difficult to wade through, as if the author's so deep in her world that she doesn't realise how confusing it can be to a reader. When so many things in the plot hinge on the nature of magic, it would've been helpful to have had more of a crash course in it before the action kicks in.

Nevertheless, it's fairly gripping. Definitely not young readers' fare, with the drugs, sex and swearing, but it makes for a dark, exciting read. I'll probably be buying the next in the series (who knows, maybe we'll even get to learn a little bit about how the magic in this world works...)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 29 June 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Unholy Ghosts is a dark, gritty, urban fantasy which follows the story of Chess, a young witch who works for the 'church' an organisation which works to protect people from the dead spirits still present among them. Chess also happens to be a drug addict and when she finds herself in trouble with her dealer the only way out is to delve into a terrifying and deadly mystery.

Unholy Ghosts is the first urban fantasy book I've read and I mostly certainly wasn't disappointed. Stacia Kane's world instantly draws you in, its dark, supernatural setting completely absorbing. The story hurtles along at a fast, action packed pace so there is never a dull moment. Chess is an interesting and complex heroine and she is excellently supported by the other main characters, particularly Terrible and Lee, the ruggard, bad boy love interests.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first in the downside ghosts trilogy and already have the next books in the series on my wishlist!

Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 29 August 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It would be easy to dismiss this novel amongst the thousand's (admittedly an exaggeration, but just walk into any branch of WH Smiths to see how half their stores are packed wit this kind of novel) of similar one that seem to be knocking around at the moment.

But that would be to do this a disservice.

Whilst it didn't capture me QUITE as much as Charlaine Harris' True Blood series this could be pretty much the next best thing, with perhaps an added layer of pure horror.

What makes it really stand out is that it's heroine isn't perfect, isn't always right and isn't always likeable. Which makes for a pleasing touch of realism in what is, after all, a fantasy world.

I look forward to the rest of the series.
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