Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

ISBN: 978-0345515575
I was given this book as a gift.

Downside book #1

With this book Kane has brought Urban fantasy back to its roots, not a place where a girl detective has to choose between the unbelievably sexy vampire that might someday weaken and kill her, or the blindingly gorgeous werewolf who might get her mixed up in a fight too big for her and end up just as dead. Here Kane takes strong element of the world we all know and forges them into something new, familiar, yet utterly different.

In the Downside books the Church and the government are one and the same, but this isn’t the modern Church running things. Instead the supernatural is fact, and veined with magic, ghosts and witches, and the Church as controller of it, also must protect the citizens from the supernatural (mostly so it can maintain it’s steel-locked control of the world). Chess is a witch working for Church, a Debunker, who either debunks faked hauntings, or clears up real ones for her employers. She’s also a drug addict who owes someone terrible a lot of money. So in one book readers will find a fantasy-skewed religious conspiracy thriller and a paranormal, hard core (in the dark and harsh sense and in the Oi punk! sense) noir mystery story.

Bump, Chess’ dealer, demands that she debunk the haunting of an old, abandoned air field so he can use it to funnel in more drugs. Meanwhile a rival dealer makes her an offer, enticing her with free drugs, if only she’ll make sure Bump can’t use the airfield. Both tasks turn out to be more complicated than expected since Terrible, Bump’s right hand enforcer, becomes Chess’ assistant and guard as she works, and as Chess tries to fight her attractions to Lex, a dealer for the rival drug lord. In the end the airfield isn’t just haunted, something much, much worse is going on, and Chess can’t even go to the Church for back up because of her own dark dealings and her suspicion that someone in the church is behind the dark magic at the airfield.

Unholy Ghosts is a thrilling ride, textured and vivid, a powerhouse of fantasy. Brimming with characters that aren’t quite heroes but aren’t quite bad guys either, it shows the hard core, broke down parts of the world other stories skip over, the dark side of reality that comes not from magic, but from the poor, desperate and disillusioned trying to make it through a hard life.

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