Audio Review: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Posted September 6, 2013 by Carmel in Audiobook Reviews, Carmel, Urban Fantasy / 24 Comments

Audio Review: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane
Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Series: Downside Ghosts #1
Published by Blackstone Audio
Published on: May 25, 2010
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 11hrs & 10 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Gifted
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The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack.

In a future world under attack from the undead, the powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Consequently, there are many false claims of hauntings from those hoping to profit. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully-tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She's got a real talent for nailing human liars and banishing the wicked dead. But she's keeping a dark secret from the Church: a little drug problem that's landed her in hot water.

Chess owes a lot of money to a dangerous drug lord who wants immediate payback. All Chess has to do is dispatch a very nasty species of undead from an old airport. But the job involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and crossing swords with enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in a dangerous attraction to the drug lord's ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

Stepping into Stacia Kane’s Downside world was like walking into an alternate universe where the Church reigns supreme, ghosts have wiped out two thirds of the population and the residents speak a language that’s entirely their own. The magical rules are numerous and complex, the world-building is extremely heavy and the influx of new terminology is beyond confounding. To sum it up in one word I felt lost. Thank goodness for my GoodReads support group because otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to make it through this audiobook in its entirety. Then again, I felt similarly when I first started reading Karen Marie Moning’s Fever novels which now rank among my favourite Urban Fantasy series’ of all time so understandably, I’m going to stick this one out a bit longer. At least until I discover what all of the fuss over Terrible is about!

I really struggled to connect with the main heroine, Chess. Her drug addiction frustrated me to no end; although I can understand the whys behind it, I still had a difficult time comprehending her need to dull her senses, especially given how dangerous Downside really is. You’d think she’d want to have her wits about her in case a murderous ghost decides to cross her path. Chess is a debunker for the Church of Real Truth which means that she’s supposedly one of their most highly trained employees. I found this hard to believe considering she does her job high on most days. A large portion of the mistakes she makes and her delayed light bulb moments during an investigation are caused by her drug use. There were times when I just wanted to yell “if you’d stop doing lines for one freaking minute you might be able figure this sh*t out!” I liked that she’s a flawed heroine but I also would have liked to see her sober for at least one chapter.

The world-building and terminology are definitely going to take some getting used to. I can’t help but wonder if I’m being penalized once again for choosing to listen to this book over reading it because I’m thinking that the physical copy probably comes with a glossary. On the flip side, I think listening to the audiobook does have a few advantages, namely being able to better grasp the Downside lingo. I like that Kane invented her own language for this series; it helps to set it apart from the crowd. I’m not going to comment too much on Bahni Turpin’s narration in this review because I was more focused on grasping the world than on her overall performance so I’ll save my feedback on that for my second kick at the can when I check out Unholy Magic.

After feeling immense pressure from my fellow reviewers to LOVE this book I can’t help but be a little disappointed that I wasn’t immediately swept off my feet by Stacia Kane’s first Downside installment. The plot’s entertaining, the dialogue’s memorable and the world-building left me in awe but the drug addicted protagonist was difficult to swallow (pun intended). Heroine and druggie do not belong in the same sentence in my opinion. Here’s hoping that my second trip into Downside will be better than my first.

*** Thank you to Jennifer a.k.a The Book Nympho for both recommending and gifting this book to me. ***

Downside Ghosts Series

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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24 responses to “Audio Review: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

  1. I love this series. The talk does take some getting use to but you will get really invested in these characters. I had moments of literally throwing my kindle across the room.

  2. I know! I know! I felt the same way about Chess in this book, one thing is for sure tho, the narrator made me enjoy the book a lit bit more then when I tried to read it. All I can say is that I had a big change of heart about the characters by the second book, I do have to admit, Chess does need a lot understanding and forgiveness.

  3. I love the series, but will admit to being taken aback at first. It’s really not what you would normally expect from our main characters. They draw you to them as you keep reading the series. I’ve screamed at Chess a few times while reading them all.

    And the physical copy…no glossary. You just have to get into the Downside speak, dig?

  4. Denise Matthews

    This is a great example of why I love the Whispersync Immersion reading from Audible and Amazon. When I read along, as I listen, I seem to get more out of these alternate fantasy stories. I tend to get REALLY into a book when reading like this, and I get, well…totally immersed. If you haven’t already tried it, please do. It may make a big difference, imho.

  5. Krista

    I definitely had the same feelings with the first book or two. I was really interested by book 3 and at the end of book 4 I was an emotional mess with my love for Chess and Terrible. This series really taught me the importance of sticking with a UF series for more than one book.

    Chess does have some very sympathetic reasons for her drug use and I do wish SK had included them in book one. I feel like more people would give the series a chance if she had.

  6. Stephanie H.

    I agree with others, the first book, while introducing us to this amazing new world, is a bit overwhelming and Chess drug addiction can be a little shocking. The novella Finding Magic takes place in her early days with the church and gives a lot of her back story to her addiction. I didn’t read it until I was 4 or 5 books in, but just so you know! I am currently doing a re-read of the series on audio. I love the narrator and even when I have read the physical books I end up doing her voice in my head, especially for characters like Bump!

  7. I’ve just started reading this series. I’ve had it on my tbr for so long and I keep being told that I just have to read it, so I decide to jump in. I’m also listening to it, I’m glad that the audio helped with the lingo. Your review has me even more curious about how I’ll feel about it. Great review 🙂

  8. This is probably my favorite urban fantasy series ever but I can see where Chess’ addiction can be a bit off-putting for some. I like that she is almost an “anti-heroine” in some ways, yet there’s something about her that’s compelling despite her awful choices. I thought the “Downspeak” was brilliant too and so well done by the narrator. I don’t know that I would have enjoyed it as much (or understood it) reading it in print. I hope you enjoy the second book more, I’m glad you’re continuing the series. For me, it’s the world itself and the church that is so fascinating about these books, but I know that most people really love Terrible. Great review!

  9. I tried reading this one and couldn’t get into it. Then I tried a few weeks later with the audio and I feel in love.

    I think the drug use it was most people don’t like about the books but after a while it just becomes the norm for Chess.

    I’m glad you stuck with the series. (I was the same about Fever too and now I love it.)