Chess Putnam is a ghost hunter, a member of the Church of Real Truth aiming to save humanity from the risen dead. Her job is to investigate hauntings and banish the ghosts that arise, reimbursing citizens for their genuinely reported spooks. But Chess isn’t all good; she’s seriously addicted to drugs and in debt to a dangerous drug lord, Bump. When Bump needs her help with a very dangerous job, Chess has no choice and must oblige him, but with corruption in the church and an alarming attraction to Bump’s lead enforcer and a rival gang leader, she’s in for trouble.
I’ve never managed to say no to more urban fantasy, and when I stumbled upon this book half price at the Strand in New York City back in April, I really couldn’t resist buying it. At first I found it more difficult to get on with, but the origins of a new fantasy world are always daunting. There are new rules of magic to learn, characters to get acquainted with, and bad guys to worry about. Once I was 100 or so pages in, I started to get invested in the story and, as usual, really enjoyed my latest foray into a more city-focused world of magic.
This book is definitely set in the underworld, despite Chess’s job as an ostensible protector of the public. I was really surprised by the fact that she has a drug addiction and that she is severely torn between two different men. Love triangles are fairly typical in books like this, but the fact that she’s attracted to and goes relatively far with both men was a surprise for me. I’m used to the tamer conflict in the October Daye series as an example, where there are competing love interests but the feelings are somehow subtler. With Chess’s drug addiction on top of this, I was surprised I liked her at all, since she’s a person so completely different from me; but I really, seriously did, and I wanted the best for her. I also managed to have a favorite of her two love interests, of course, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out in subsequent books.
I also liked the historical component of the ghosts and the reason behind the haunting that she investigates for Bump; there is a lot of mystery going on here, although I did manage to guess the culprit of one of the mysteries well before Chess managed to figure it out. By the end of the book, I became very swept up in her story and completely sympathetic to her, and I immediately wanted book 2 (and 3, and 4) of the series so I could continue. I’ve read reviews and I know it gets even better, so I’m definitely looking forward to delving even deeper into this world.
Recommended for urban fantasy enthusiasts, Unholy Ghosts is a dark yet enthralling read that will immediately leave you craving more.
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