Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Don’t ask me why I read this one, I have no idea.

I suppose that’s not quite true…

I’m never embarrassed by the books I read (well, maybe a little*), but I am sometimes less than open about admitting why I read certain books in the first place. So how did I stumble across Unholy Ghosts? The short answer is book bloggers! The longer answer is that on a top ten Tuesday prompt that I may have found a tad ridiculous – favorite book boyfriends (the answer is always Edward Fairfax Rochester) – I stumbled across the name Terrible. Terrible? Why would you date a man that voluntarily calls himself Terrible? What kind of name is that? Color me curious. So I headed over to Amazon and downloaded the kindle sample. It sat and it sat.  I started reading, I liked it, purchased it but it didn’t quite leave an impression.

Unholy Ghosts

Cue what has felt like the most epic reading slump of my reading career (that is such a thing, right?). Then one day I was scrolling on my kindle and was struck by what is honestly a rather tacky cover. Four hours later, I was quite satisfied with my original purchase and nearly on the road to recovering my enjoyment of reading.

Chess Putnam is not a walking disaster, but she’s barely the next step up.  She’s a witch and drug addict in need of money. She owes over several thousand dollars to Bump, her dealer, and he offers for her to work it off in trade. No, no that way. Instead, he asks her to use her magical abilities outside of her job, which is illegal. She agrees, though she doesn’t have much of a choice. As she’s dragged further into the world of dark magic, illicit activities, and rival drug lords, Chess’ troubled past is revealed. You also meet Terrible, which is not an entirely unpleasant experience, unless you owe someone money.

While this book is urban fantasy, and thus quite far outside my reading comfort zone, it includes several elements I found appealing. It’s dark and gritty, with characters that aren’t coincidentally redeemed as the plot wraps up. Because Chess doesn’t get better, she doesn’t magically (forgive the pun) get her life under control, she solves her problems as she encounters them and she tries to cope as best she can. And really, that’s all any of us can do (admittedly, most of us find other, less destructive outlets). I’m also not fond of books that have romance as one of the primary story lines, this is not the case in Unholy Ghosts, it’s there, but it’s in the background and not particularly forced. It feels organic, if you will.

Quite simply, I liked it. It’s not award winning, it’s not even all that likable. On the outside, it’s a novel about a drug addict witch trying to fix the problems her drug addiction and magic caused. In this case, this book was very much right, place right time for me. I’ve been struggling with a lot of the literary fiction I’ve been reading lately and I think I just needed something completely outside my reading realm to pull me back in. Unholy Ghosts was it and for that I am very thankful. I mean honestly, it was recommended by Charlaine Harris (author of the True Blood series), so keep your expectations appropriate.

How do you break out of a slump? And how do you judge when to give books a chance (despite the cover, genre, etc.)?

Pair this with Spicy Sriracha Ramen. You won’t be sorry.

Sriracha Ramen

“She stopped and bought a bowl of noodles from a permanent booth not far from Bump’s place, and slurped them with chopsticks as she loitered outside the doors.”

Sounds like ramen to me. I may be a bit biased and just want to share this recipe from Baker by Nature.

*Somehow I read the 50 Shades trilogy. Yes, all three.

11 thoughts on “Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

  1. Beautiful post. I do think a reading slump can be busted (I can use that word, right?) by reading something totally different so this certainly sounds appropriate. Besides, it is fun to shake it up. How would we know what we like or don’t like if we don’t sample as much as possible?


  2. I usually break (bust) a reading slump by either reading something completely different, or by rereading a favourite that I know won’t disappoint. I tend to give a book a chance if my first instinct when I see the cover or title is that I want to read it. However, this has caused me to read a lot of bad books so now I’m trying to be a little more selective.


  3. I like your idea of breaking a slump by going totally outside the comfort zone. I’ve never tried it, I guess partially because I’d be afraid that something in a far-out genre (at least for me) would turn me off further. But perhaps that’s what I’d need for a reset!
    Honestly, the only thing that’s helped me get out of a slump lately is going for extremely well-hyped books, ones that I know are highly unlikely to fail. I have to get a string of those in a row, and then I start to pick back up again.


  4. This past reading year felt like a reading slump to me, too. The majority of new books just didn’t do it for me. I have a similar iteration of jostling out of said slump: I read a “genre book” or non-fiction. Something different than what has been slumping me. I haven’t read the 50 Shades books, but I just don’t think I could do it; even as a break.


  5. This sounds way out there beyond what I ordinarily read, but I’m oddly drawn to it after reading your description… High five on belonging to Team Edward…Rochester. 🙂


  6. I read this post like half an hour from my dinner and now I am extra hungry!!
    I usually break my slump by picking up some old favourites. But I guess reading out of your comfort zone can be an interesting approach.


    1. I tried rereading Jane Eyre, possibly my favorite book of all time, and when that didn’t work, I knew I was in trouble. This book helped, but it didn’t solve it. Hopefully it keeps things moving in the right direction though.


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