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Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #1)

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  10,549 ratings  ·  1,373 reviews

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 dea
Mass Market Paperback, 339 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Del Rey (first published 2010)
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Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene FrostDarkfever by Karen Marie MoningDark Lover by J.R. WardMoon Called by Patricia BriggsMagic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Best ADULT Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
66th out of 2,426 books — 5,281 voters
Dark Lover by J.R. WardTwilight by Stephenie MeyerHalfway to the Grave by Jeaniene FrostDead Until Dark by Charlaine HarrisDarkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Best Paranormal Romance Series
85th out of 972 books — 10,418 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 07, 2015 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tatiana by: Catie
Updated 1/7/2015

Love how Chess/Terrible relationship is written. I might bump up this series into my faves. It surely stands the test of time.

As seen on The Readventurer

How do you decide which urban fantasy series you should read?

Let's be honest, there is like million and a half books in this genre, all with the same basic premise, assemblage of characters, mythology structure and story arcs. I, personally, do not even bother to read synopses of UF books any more, because, well, they are all th
Kat Kennedy
If you've ever been one of those people lucky enough to be gifted without any specific fondness for chocolate or ice cream or sweets then you'll know what it's like to have someone look at you, horrified, and exclaim, "How? Chocolate/ice cream/lollies are so good!"

I would like to start off by saying that I'm prefectly aware that they're apparently very good. I don't mind lollies - as long as they're gummy bears I'll even eat them! I'll have chocolate occassionally but I generally avoid ice cream
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
BR with my MacHalo Freaks starting Feb 3, 2015.

DNF at 60%

I'm in a pretty foul mood these days so I'm afraid this is not going to go well. Actually I don't even feel like reviewing this, I've wasted enough time with this book as it is. BUT I need to get it all out of my system so here goes.

If you love this book you might want to either take a few steps back or not read this review at all. If you do read it, don't even think of giving me hell about it afterwards, I've had it with trolls.

What this
Jo ★The Book Sloth★
4.5 Totally Surprised Stars

BR with my awesome MacHalo girls.

10 things I hate about Unholy Ghosts...

1) Lex. I don't like this guy. There is something really off about him. I don't trust him at all.
2) The drugs. Huge pet-pieve of mine. I think that doing drugs shows weakness which the heroine proved right since everyone was using her drug addiction to push her around.
3) The Church. They are fanatical and tyrannical.
4) The slang. Too much... Too freakin much.
5) The love triangle. No need for elabor
Anzu The Great Destroyer
The most relevant things you need to know about Unholy Ghosts

A bunch of self-loathing funny talking drug addicts being chased by evil red eyed ghosts in a dirty religionless futuristic city. Nicotine, drugs, ghosts and a freakin’ love triangle. Hip hip hurrah!

This book was very difficult for me to read because of my lack of interest in all of these things. It’s just weird. I actually like weird things, there’s nothing more entertaining than watching a bunch of crazy people wearing their underwe
Sh3lly ♛ Queen of Dragons and Wandering Crustaceans ♛
for story + for a guy named Terrible = stars

I'd heard about this series before, but just now finally got around to starting it with my MacHalo girls in a buddy read.

Chess is a witch.

Not a witch like this:

A little more like this:

But she's more or less a good witch who works for the Church. It's present day, but in an alternate reality where ghosts got really pissed one day and decided to try and take over the planet, killing as many humans as they could. The Church got things under control...
Emily May
Mar 30, 2012 Emily May rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily May by: Tatiana
Shelves: paranormal-uf, 2012

I don't seem capable of finding a healthy medium when it comes to urban fantasy books - they either do nothing for me, or I develop a slight addiction. I can feel my love for this series forming already, this book was just so gory, nasty, fun and very very readable. It's been a long while since I've finished a book in just one day but I've been unable to put Unholy Ghosts down.

Once more, I owe thanks to Tatiana for bringing this book to my attention, I've been struggling with the urban fantasy
Aug 02, 2010 Regina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Regina by: Erika (Nurslings)
4-4.5 stars. Oh My Goodness! This book blew me away. First, I have to say I really steer clear of movies and books that paint drug use as fun (not talking about pot/marijuana). For some reason it just really turns my stomach. I don't judge the users morally but I just can't watch the downward spiral, the descent. So I really was reluctant to pick up this book. But I am so glad that I did. The lead character Cesaria a/k/a "Chess" is a difficult person to focus on for over 300 pages. But Stacia Ka ...more
Buddy read with my wonderful MacHalo girls!

What you need to know about me is that I love Urban Fantasy. I could read it all day, every day. To have a Fantasy setting based in our own world? It's so cool! However, I've found how rare it is to find a great UF series, and sadly, Unholy Ghosts wasn't one of them for me.

While reading this I thought it was okay, but now sitting down to write my review I realize I don't remember any of the plot. I wouldn't be able to answer if someone asked me what the

I never expected to like this book.

I had read all sorts of reviews and most of them were fairly positive but to read a story about a heroine with a drug addiction problem (no pun intended) – I wasn’t sure if this book would be for me.

Unholy Ghosts is a dark, dirty, gritty, read. The world building is imaginative. Set in a world where ghosts need to be controlled by debunkers, drug lords roam freely, and magic exists, Unholy Ghosts is a compelling read.

The main character Chess (Cesaria) Putman is
Erica Ravenclaw
Feb 05, 2015 Erica Ravenclaw rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erica Ravenclaw by: JennyJen
Shelves: favorites

Feb 2015 Reread with MacHalo Girls: ABSOLUTELY FUCKING LOVED IT. Everything I said below still stands. I think I loved it more the second time around because perspective.

No Spoilers! Definitely colorful language abound!


I didn't read the reviews on this until I finished, and truthfully it's really a difficult book to review. It's not what you think it's going to be. It's not what you want it to be. It's not familiar. It's not unfamiliar. So what is it then? I
I'm going to start this review off on a tangent--when do I not? As far as I'm concerned 2011 has been the Year of Meh. Television has been practically unwatchable. Movies released this year: heinous. The books were, at best, mediocre. Admittedly, there were a few notable exceptions but, for the most part, I'm disappointed.

Over the past six months I've grown weary; struggled to finish most of what I've started, and, by the way, failing more often then not--you should see my pile of abandoned boo
I’m going 4.5 and if I had to pay for stars it would probably be 4 but this book was just perfect timing for me and the ending put it over the top. The only thing stopping me from a straight 5 is that the character and world development really took a long time.

The writing was incredible to me. It is the kind of stuff I look for in a book. I'm not talking about the unique language either(I could have done with or without it) although the language really spoke to how true she was to the world she
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
A good narrator can always make or break a book for me. In this case, I think my eventual affection for this story was due in a large part to Bahni Turpin, who managed to flawlessly execute both the male and female voices. She made these characters come alive, and I went from not feeling the book to really loving it. This book has some difficult speech patterns in it, and I think hearing a narrator read it aloud made it feel urban and authentic.

I tend to like my urban fantasy books to be just t
Nov 19, 2013 Brenna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Brenna by: AJ
4.5 stars. Great start to a series I know I am going to love!

Unholy Ghosts had a little bit of everything that I love in a good book. The writing was great, the mood was dark and intriguing, the characters were flawed, lovable, and complex. There’s action, suspense, romance, some steam, and a fabulously built world.

It is told by Chess, our heroine, in third person POV. She is a Debunker for the Church. The Church isn’t religious in this world; it’s like their form of government that is ruled th
Laurie Garrison

For a Urban Fantasy this book was OK for me. The New world is ruled by a church called Church of Real Truth, Stacia explains the world really good and it doesn’t take up the whole storyline. There is lots of hard core action and one somewhat hot scene between Chess and Lex.

Chess has to have her drugs, if not she ends up with the itch. Bump is her supplier. She is in head over heals in debt with him. Bump gives her a ghost hunting job to help pay for what she owes him. From what I read I didn’t
LethalLovely~I'm Waiting & Fading & Floating Away
My Thoughts:

I received a ARC copy of this novel from GR a few months ago but just recently found the time to read it. Ok, I lied. I was too chickenshit until now to read it after I found out the heroine is a drug addict. You already know the synopsis but I'll give a short recap: Chess is a witch working for the Church helping to banish ghosts. When she racks up a huge debt with her drug dealer, he gives her a job to complete & her debt will be erased & so the story begins.

I enjoyed the w
Feb 02, 2012 SubterraneanCatalyst rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: UF fans looking for something other than vampires
I hate to do this but I'm not skilled enough yet to write a review that doesn't have mild spoilers, or even unforgivable spoilers, so forgive me my crutch:


On to business::

...Chessie is (in my mind) a luscious tattooed Churc

Jan 14, 2012 Vered rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People I love
Recommended to Vered by: Laura, April
Shelves: uf, favorites, ab-to-c
I loved it! Loved it!! I haven't loved as much as I loved this one for so long. Since Kate I think.
Excellent writing, characters I fell in love with and one unbelievable, heartbreaking, soul gripping Terrible.
I was so afraid of the whole drag adiction issue, but I fell in love with Chess. Yes, she's a drug addict and no, it was never glorified in any way. It was just what it was. Chess was so fucked up yet smart and courageous and strong and vulnerable and at times i just wanted to hold her an
Jen (Red Hot Books)
Jan 18, 2012 Jen (Red Hot Books) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jen by: MISS VAIN
As I try to put my thoughts together about this book, I find myself at a little bit of a loss. It's... strange and disturbing at times. But it's also kind of compelling.

The story takes place in an alternate universe where the existence of magic and ghosts are known fact. Society is run by the church. Not any church of God, but one that rejects faith altogether. Its members keep a tight leash on the ghost world. Chess works for the Church as a "debunker." Essentially, she investigates claims of h
"Debunking often looks like the most appealing of church positions, but very few possess the skill, intelligence and above all, integrity required."
--Careers In The Church: A Guide For Teens, by Praxis Turpin.

My only regret with this book is that I waited so long to read this series. I absolutely LOVE this unique world that even when I'm not reading the book Chess and the Downside World is still on my mind! Fans of the Fever world will fall in live with this world Stacia Kane has created.

I found this slower than I remember from my first read, but still engaging. Looking forward to book 2!

Re-read for me, newbie for many others in our little MacHalo group! I hope I like this as much as I did the first time around!
Feb 03, 2015 Liz* is currently reading it
Recommended to Liz* by: Marina
GR Blurb:

"If you liked the compelling characters in 50 Shades of Grey, you’ll love the Downside Ghosts series."

Mimi Smith
4.25 stars

“And the sun set so nothing but darkness existed, and the dead rose with a violent hunger.”
—The Book of Truth, Origins, Article 2

Downside World 101 by Mimi

And all the facts I collected...

The world is not a nice place. Hasn't been since the Week of Terror (hasn't been explained) when the ghosts rose and started killing the living. The Church of Truth rose at that time and became absolute, since they were the only ones who knew how to banish the ghosts by magic. All other religions
I put off reading this one for a while, but I'm glad I finally got around to it. I knew the main character, Chess, was a drug addict and that her addiction would play a strong role in the novel. That's just not a big selling point for me, not so much because I object to drug addiction as fictional content, but because it frankly can be just tedious to read about (Phury, I'm looking at you. You and your Wizard).

It's not tedious here, largely because while it's a big part of Chess's characterizat
Jeann (Happy Indulgence)
While reading Unholy Ghosts, what struck me was how strange and unusual it was in some parts of it's storytelling.

Chess is a witch who hunts ghosts for a living, but she is also addicted to drugs and uses them to deal with her life. In order to use magic, she is an employee of the Church of Real Truth, yet she also hangs out in all the wrong places. This juxta-positioning was a little strange, especially when she snorts drugs, listens to sermons, and hangs around rough-talking males. She certai
I am SO grateful to have found this series.
Completely original and addictive storytelling. Deeply flawed characters that I still managed to care about.

This book also features several characters who speak with what can only be described as a kind of intensely grammatically incorrect dialect that would normally be a deal breaker for me when it comes to reading and enjoying a book. I'm not sure if it was just the fact that the dialect made sense in the scope of the story, or if I have gotten more
Arie ☂
Feburary 2015 buddy read with the awesome MacHalo BR group.

I'm ready! Unofficial Downside fangirl polish in the shade 'Ladybird' ;D Thanks, Maggie!


First read: August 2013

4 stars

One word. TERRIBLE.

Read this for him.
Carolyn (Book Chick City)
I actually give this 9/10, but Goodreads doesn't offer half stars!

I'm so excited about this book - I LOVED it! I haven't read an Urban Fantasy this good in quite a while. I've read the first in Kane's 'Megan Chase' series, but she's come on leaps and bounds since then, Unholy Ghosts is just so much better in every respect.

The writing is perfectly paced, I didn't get bored once and everything slots together at the right time. The plot is just brilliant and had me engrossed until the very last pag
Jul 27, 2010 Steph rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Steph by: Kindlelicious
Unholy Ghosts is our first look into the world of Downside. And, yes, at first glance, you might only see dirt, drugs and hoodlums. But, thankfully Kane gives us a deeper insight into a world post-haunting.

Almost 23 years ago, in 1997, during Haunting Week "people huddled together in churches and homes and schools, praying and crying, while silent ghosts, risen from their graves, moved through the walls in search of them. Stealing their lives."

Since then, the Church is law, it is the only gove
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Urban Fantasy Afi...: April Group Read 11 20 Apr 05, 2015 07:23PM  
Steampunk, New We...: Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane 6 13 Sep 27, 2014 06:34PM  
The Urban Fixation: Unholy Ghosts 2 13 Nov 08, 2013 06:22PM  
Paranormal Romanc...: Books like the Downside Ghosts series? 1 25 Aug 18, 2013 05:29PM  
  • Head Rush (The Disillusionists Trilogy, #3)
  • Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell, #1)
  • The Renfield Syndrome (Rhiannon's Law, #2)
  • Blood on the Bayou (Annabelle Lee, #2)
  • Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, #3)
  • The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan, #1)
  • Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian, #1)
  • Bitter Night (Horngate Witches, #1)
  • A Brush of Darkness (Abby Sinclair, #1)
  • Queen of Shadows (Shadow World, #1)
  • The Shadow Reader (Shadow Reader, #1)
  • Grave Witch (Alex Craft, #1)
  • Three Days to Dead (Dreg City, #1)
  • Black Wings (Black Wings, #1)
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.
More about Stacia Kane...

Other Books in the Series

Downside Ghosts (7 books)
  • Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts, #2)
  • City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #3)
  • Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts, #4)
  • Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts, #5)
  • Untitled (Downside Ghosts, #6)
  • Five Down
Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts, #2) City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #3) Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts, #4) Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts, #5) Personal Demons (Megan Chase, #1)

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“IF her life had taught her anything, it was that you never really knew what people had going on beneath the surface. People were shit. The only difference between them and animals was people felt the need to hide it.” 70 likes
“Terrible thought she was brave. She remembered it now, heard his voice in her head as if he stood next to her. "They scared. Not you, though." Terrible thought she was brave, and if he - a man whose name was Terrible, a man whose path people scrambled to get out of - thought so, it must be true. She could do this, she would do this.” 49 likes
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