Unholy Ghosts’ and ‘Unholy Magic’ are the first two books in the ‘Downside Ghosts’ series. For some reason I thought that it was a trilogy, however the third book wasn’t to my tastes so I didn’t purchase it.
Cesaria Putnam (aka Chess) is a Church Witch in a world where the dead have risen as ghosts and are angry enough to attack the living. The Church rose in power and influence as conventional governments crumbled, to the extent that they are now in total control and they use the witches to ensure that the dead are respected by the citizens and that the ghosts are kept under control.
Chess happens to be a rather talented ghost banisher and in theory should be slightly respected and feared, however Chess is junkie who owes a lot of money to her local drug dealer amusingly called Bump. In order to balance the books Bump ‘asks’ Chess to help him with a job that ends up spiralling into human sacrifice, dark magic, conspiracies and bad things generally, this job also has Bump’s right-hand man Terrible tagging along.
Terrible is a mid 20s male who is over 6 foot, has sideburns, some scars and beats people up for a living; naturally this means that Chess is very interested in him… however Chess also ends up shagging the son of a rival drug dealer – who gives her pills in return for favours. Chess has also had a rather public one night stand with one of her fellow Church Witches.
(Still from ‘Trainspotting’.)
All of this means that you could sum up Chess as a junkie slut with some magic, which isn’t exactly what I was looking for in a main character. This does mean that as much as I love the setting and background of the book I don’t really have time for Chess herself and her constantly stupid decisions.
There is also the matter of regional dialect peppering the book, some people like this sort of thing and some people don’t. Personally, if I wanted to read about druggies who use regional dialect I would read something by Irvine Welsh.
It turns out that there are now considerably more than three books and I can almost see why – the plot of the first two isn’t bad and it seems that Terrible has a strong female internet following. There is also a love triangle, which works for some people, and some supernatural stuff happens too. But Chess makes too many bad choices for me to like her enough to keep these books, that and once I applied the phrase “junkie slut” to her I am struggling to disassociate it.
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