THE DEPARTED HAVE ARRIVED. 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 dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.
So this is the first time I’ve read about a drug-addicted ghost hunter in my urban fantasy, and trust me, I have been around the urban fantasy block (recommendations? Kate Daniels, Harry Dresden, Greywalker, and Chicagoland Vampires). I am always looking for something new and exciting, because this is my favorite genre right now. So this not only has ghosts, which Anna Dressed in Blood got me hooked on, but it has a crazy new society, magic, death, and a little lust. That’s everything you need, in my opinion. It’s also a little scary in the way the Greywalker books are, with so many unknowns and malicious ghosts and bumps in the night. I really liked Chess, who only seems slightly emotionally stunted (a requirement for UF heroines), and was kind of intrigued by her drug addiction. You just don’t see a lot of flawed heroines in general, let alone one who snorts uppers while in the Church library. She’s kind of badass, but she’s also an anti-heroine. She’s probably not someone you’d want to snuggle with.
Speaking of snuggling, I am super okay with love triangles in urban fantasy. I realize this seems hypocritical, considering how I freaked out about Hallowed, but seriously. A grown woman having a career and a life while dating two men is WORLDS AWAY from a teenager going to high school and agonizing over the boys who like her. I’ve dated two guys at once before (and they knew about each other and no jealousy!), so I appreciate a heroine who doesn’t get too wrapped up in societal expectations. Anyway. The love interests: Terrible and Lex. I like that Terrible isn’t incredibly attractive or perfect, and both Lex and Terrible are scary dudes with ambiguous morals. There’s no noble pack mentality here. They’re criminals and that makes them so much more interesting.
It’s hard to summarize the plot of these kinds of novels without spoiling everything, but I will tell you that this one creeped me out. There’s a ghost called a Dreamthief, who does exactly what you think all while being extremely frightening, with claws and teeth like the Mouth of Sauron. This book scared me sometimes! I loved it for that. Some UF/PNR can be really focused on the paranormal aspect and never really give us any plot, but this one has a nice balance. Unlike a lot of people on GoodReads, I have zero problem with Chess’s flippant drug use; I trust that it will catch up with her eventually, plus there are times in this novel where her memory or abilities are affected by the drugs she takes. There are consequences, but she’s only 23. She hasn’t been an addict very long, and there’s been no time for it to all catch up with her. So that doesn’t bother me at all.
I loved this one. I’m so happy I picked it at random from my TBR list. If you like urban fantasy, ghosts, magic, and a badass heroine, this one’s for you. I’m off to start Unholy Magic now. Check this space for that review!