The genre is not listed on the spine of the book, but Unholy Ghosts is a great dark futuristic urban fantasy. This was one of those books that kept me interested the whole way through - from the first page, to the last.
The Church seems to be the ruling entity in this futuristic world, and they also seem to have some vaguely sinister undertones. The Church has admitted to the general public that there is no real god, only The Truth....and ghosts. Deadly, hungry, mean spirited ghosts. Of course The Church keeps them contained in an underground city - except for the annual one week festival. When you read the book, you can find out more about this. It's sinister in a kind of "we're taking care of you" way.
Chess Putnam is one of the employees of The Church. She is a debunker, a witch (tattooed with magic infused tattoos) who checks out complaints of hauntings. If a family has been haunted by a real ghost, they are entitled to a payment from The Church and the ghost is escorted to "The City", courtesy of debunkers and The Church. If the debunker is able to disprove the presence of real ghosts, then they are entitled to bonuses - after a set amount of debunking. (I kind of like that verb.)
One of the main characters is Chess, and there is a side character of Chess' addiction to drugs - any drugs she can get her hands on. Of course this addiction colors and affects everything she does, because this is a daily - at times hourly - need. Chess' addiction leads her to a job that at first seems simple enough, but is not.
The job Chess has to perform for the dealer that she owes a lot of money to, leads her into quite a bit of danger, and also leads to very sinister plot. Chess also is forced to work closesly on this job with the dealer's main enforcer, a man named Trouble. A rival gang leader/dealer has plans of his own affecting Chess and the job she's working on and brings some complications.
Unholy Ghosts is a very gritty novel. There is no sugarcoating Chess' addiction, the men she deals with are definitely NOT angels - in fact there probably isn't very many truly good people in this novel. Unholy Ghosts is about damaged people living in damaged times and making the best of their situations, even though they are incapable, at times, of making good decisions because of choices they've been making.
I found it refreshing, in a twisted way, to read about people who are not pillars of society, who aren't just one step away from redemption and changing their lives for the better. No, Chess does not have any epiphanies about her drug use, and at the end of the book is still using. There is no sense of that changing. Chess is still a kind of functioning addict, even though she herself will admit that her drug use is affecting her senses, her choices, and her reasoning.
The combination of Chess, her addictions, the men in her life that are not "hidden do-gooders" but really are twisted individuals, the changed Church, and beliefs of people in general all add up to a very different kind of urban fantasy.
The dialogue was believable.
Chess' actions and behaviors were believable.
Chess' drug uses fit right into her character.
I also found it refreshing that one of the men that Chess found her self attracted to was described as ugly - in fact while she was experiencing these feelings, she was questioning why. This story was not full of unbelievably handsome men - there is one, but he's not a very nice guy either.
Unholy Ghosts was a very satisfying read for me.
If you can't stand reading about damaged people, who don't find redemption by the end of the book, this book might not be to your taste.
However, even if the you can't like the character (I had no problems with this) the story itself was great.
If you're looking for a different, twisted, good read, then this would be a good choice.
There were plenty of suspenseful situations, a little bit of dysfunctional attraction, friendship growth, and lots of danger and adventure - some spooky adventure.
Ready to read the sequel (Unholy Magic)
Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge