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Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #1)

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  12,509 Ratings  ·  1,517 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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Glen Does a "lust quadrangle" count? Love is too dangerous for Chess. It means looking at feelings she spends the entire book running from, with help from…moreDoes a "lust quadrangle" count? Love is too dangerous for Chess. It means looking at feelings she spends the entire book running from, with help from a wide array of drugs, sex, danger, and bad choices.

Still, romance is a major theme. And I don't mean that as a euphemism for "porn." I mean relationship building, destroying, and questioning that intensifies in the second book. Like Kate Daniels, it's not that clear who "the one" is until at least the second book.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan 07, 2015 Tatiana rated it really liked it
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)
Sep 15, 2015 ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) by: Catherine
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
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
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
Emily May
Mar 30, 2012 Emily May rated it really liked it  ·  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
Sh3lly ✨ Bring on the Weird ✨
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...
Erica Ravenclaw
Feb 05, 2015 Erica Ravenclaw rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Feb 06, 2015 Danae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 01, 2011 Penny rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of urban fantasy
Recommended to Penny by: Wicked Incognito Now
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
May 24, 2012 Tom rated it it was amazing
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 really liked it
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
David "proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party"
This book benefits from a compelling story, as well as a unique and fascinating's just too bad that the Unholy Ghosts that haunt the city of Downside are far more interesting than the people who are trying to stop them!

Chess Putnam is an ordained Debunker for the all-powerful Church of Real Truth. On a good day, she receives a generous bonus for proving someone is faking a haunting in order to extort money from the Church. On a bad day, the haunting turns out to be real, and Ches
Dec 27, 2010 Felicia rated it really liked it
GUYS...I dunno. I liked this book despite myself. It's super gritty, has an interesting worldbuilding, and I gave it 4 stars just for avoiding a lot of cliches I'm really tired of lately. But I gotta say, I am really on the fence about the lead character.

Basically she is a drug addict, and all the trouble in the book stems from that fact. I think it's REALLY cool and bold choice to have a character like this, (and have two kinda low-class, nebulously shaded love interests), and I enjoyed
Laurie Garrison
Jun 06, 2010 Laurie Garrison rated it it was ok
Shelves: urban-fantasy

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
Feb 02, 2012 SubterraneanCatalyst rated it really liked it  ·  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

LethalLovely~Maybe I've Always Been More Comfortable in Chaos
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
"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.

Jan 14, 2012 Vered rated it it was amazing
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
Liz* Fashionably Late
Jul 25, 2015 Liz* Fashionably Late marked it as on-pause
Recommended to Liz* Fashionably Late by: Marina
GR Blurb:

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

Katie Michaels
Jan 18, 2012 Katie Michaels rated it really liked it
Recommended to Katie 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
Carolyn  Storer
4.5 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 page - I didn't want to put this book down!

The characters ar
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
Mimi Smith
Jul 16, 2014 Mimi Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: uf-r
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
Jul 27, 2010 Steph rated it really liked it
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
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
Jun 13, 2011 Galla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
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
Edward's Ghost Engine (also known as.......... Jinky Spring)
2.5 stars
This was quite a complex mystery novel and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of those types of books. For me this was a kind of love-hate book that had me on the edge of my seat one minute and bored out of my mind the next. There is action and an interesting sense of pace but I'm not going to rate it higher because I took too long to finish it and it didn't compel me enough.

This book took place years after Haunted Week which resulted in a lot of spirits of the dead roami
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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 (6 books)
  • Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts, #2)
  • City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #3)
  • Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts, #4)
  • Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts, #5)
  • Unholy Luck (Downside Ghosts, #6)

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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.” 73 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.” 51 likes
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