Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane | Audio Review

January 8, 2014 Reviews 12

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane | Audio ReviewUnholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Series: Downside Ghosts #1
Published by Blackstone Audio, Del Rey on May 25, 2010
Genres: Dystopia, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 339
Length: 11 hours 10 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased


The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and 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.

My Initial Reaction…

After all the hype about this series, I was a little let down at first. But by the end, I totally understood why everyone loves not only this series, but Terrible.

The Narration…

Bahni Turpin is a first rate narrator. In fact, I can’t imagine trying to read this series without her. There’s a lot of slang that I think would probably be hard to read for the first time, but she translates it so well. Bahni also brings the characters to life – each one has a unique voice and it fits them. I could even hear distinctions in what part of town a person was from, let alone age or gender. I would listen to anything Bahni narrates after this.

The Characters…

I have a love-hate relationship with the main character, Chess Putnam. There’s no denying that she’s a very well-written and thoroughly complex individual. I just can’t relate to her very well at all. As I’m sure I’ll come to understand better in later books, Chess has had a rough life. Exactly what that entails has only been hinted at thus far, but I’m sure it’s bad. It’d have to be to push her to the life she lives. She’s a drug addict. Not just a minor addict, but hard core. This really bothered me, because there were many moments where I could tell she was a smart, skilled – and frankly – potentially kick ass chick. But she let the drugs get in the way and cloud her judgment. One tragedy in particular hit me hard and I can’t help but blame her a little bit.

And then there’s Terrible. Oh, Terrible. It’s official – like so many out there, I have Terrible fever. When I first met him, I didn’t get it. He seemed like a thug – and not even a particularly good looking one. In fact, Kane makes it quite clear that he’s a bit gruesome to behold. But then you get to know him and there’s no doubt that this is a man of many layers. I won’t say more, because getting to know Terrible is something everyone should experience for themselves, but he’s really something.

Kane does a really great job of weaving in secondary characters that you love – or love to hate – and developing them just the right amount. Bahni Turpin probably had a lot to do with how fully I got to know those characters and I can’t stress enough how much I think her reading influenced my enjoyment of this Unhly Ghosts

The Story…

Unholy Ghosts takes place in an alternate reality where things are quite bleak. The Church – which is not at all what you might think – has taken over because one day, in the not too distant past, ghosts rose and massacred humans. The “traditional’ churches stood powerless against the ghosts and The Church saved the day. The Church has a complex structure that runs the world now and witches, like Chess, are an integral part of that.

Again, Kane has done a great job creating a complex world. Sometimes it was a bit too complex and I got a little lost. I think this is a series that it’s going to take a couple of books for me to feel fully comfortable in. I do love the concept though. Chess is a church witch and her job is to uncover fake hauntings, or to take care of real ghosts.  In Unholy Ghosts, Chess is in the middle of an investigation as part of official Church business. She also has been forced into an unofficial job by her drug dealer. The two jobs are both taking some unexpected twists and I found both mysteries fascinating. The magic Chess uses is equally complex, which I loved. When Chess was practicing magic, and putting her skills to her full use, I loved her and the book was at it’s strongest.

Concluding Sentiments…

I got lost at times – probably because of the intense complexity of the world and the jargon – but I’m glad I weathered through it. By the end of the book, I was committed to the mystery (which wasn’t too obvious), the characters (even if I don’t love Chess) and had at least one emotional breakdown (complete with ugly crying, on the bus). Even though I’m only giving it 3.5 stars, I’d say it’s a good start to a series and look forward to the next book.

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About Stacia Kane

Stacia Kane is the author of the light-hearted romantic urban fantasy “Megan Chase” series starting with PERSONAL DEMONS.

She currently writes the gritty dystopian urban fantasy “Downside” series starring Chess Putnam and featuring ghosts, human sacrifice, drugs, witchcraft, punk rock, and a badass ’69 Chevelle. She bleaches her hair and wears a lot of black.


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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

12 Responses to “Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane | Audio Review”

    • Berls

      I so agree! This series is particularly great for that, because there’s so much slang. I’d be lost without Bahni!

    • Berls

      Thanks!! It really is great Naomi. I was a little lost at times, but I really think that’s just because Kane created this amazingly complex world and I just wasn’t up to speed. It’s one of those series where the complexity loses you at first, but its worth it because the pay off later is incredible (I’m through book 2 now, so I’ve already seen it get way better).

  1. Stephanie H.

    I think you’re reaction to book one is normal. This series has such a complex but fantastic world that it definitely takes a couple of books to sink in. I fell more in love with this series with each book I read.

    When I think of books and narrator combinations, the Downside books and Bahni Turpin is definitely at the top of my list. I listened to the first book on audio, then read physical books for the remaining books in the series (the first time through). By book 5 I was still doing her voices in my head for each of the characters, especially Bump!

    • Berls

      I’ve moved on to book two and I have to agree with you completely. It’s just such a complex world that you need time to get used to it. It’s worth it though – the complexity pays off for one incredible experience. and Bahni Turpin is awesome – a perfect fit for the series!

  2. Julie

    You felt the exact same way I did while reading this book. Yes, I think getting lost and a bit confused is normal lol. But yes, great characters and interesting story. And the books get better! Nice review 🙂

    • Berls

      Thanks Julie! And I’ve moved on to book 2 now, so I have to agree completely – this gets incredibly better with just one book. I can’t wait to get to three!

    • Berls

      Thanks Brandee! I’m through #2 now and yeah, I can see this being a series to adore! Terrible is something else – what a great character.

    • Berls

      I definitely recommend it! I’m through book 2 now and it definitely gets better. Though I do highly suggest listening as I think Bahni Turpin makes it much less confusing.

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