Stacia Kane

The Downside Ghosts, Book 1

HarperVoyager (2010)

ISBN: 978 0 00 735281 4

Reviewed by Mitenae, July 2010

Chess Putnam is a Churchwitch, a debunker working for the powerful Church of Real Truth. She owes Bump a lot of money and agrees to repay him by doing an unauthorised job but when the official and the unofficial intersect her life gets a whole lot more interesting.

As I started to read this book I liked it but as I read on it occurred to me that this is so much like all the other urban fantasy novels coming out of America that there really isn’t anything defining about it to set it apart.

It’s your standard detective “whodunnit” novel, only the detective is a ghost hunter. It has the strong female protagonist in regulatory jeans, tank top and tattooes (as if wearing that outfit instantly defines a woman as being strong), equipped with magic as her weapon.

Then there’s the standard underside of society. There are the thugs, the bosses and so on. I’ve read better street slang than this, it feels more childish than street (see Trudi Canavan The Black Magician Trilogy).

One of the big bugs for me about this story is the premise that the truth about ghosts and the afterlife being revealed in 1997 after major worldwide period of hauntings that led to the Church of Real Truth gaining power and all the other religions effectively falling by the wayside. I just can’t believe this. Even if the hauntings did happen there is no way that the major religions wouldn’t be able to find a way to spin it to their advantage. For me, this story would have been better served if it was disconnected from our world entirely and set in a world of its own.

All up, I like the book and I like the story and if you’re a fan of American urban fantasy then you will too. I only wish that the author had of pushed the concept more in it’s early development so as to make it different from everything else that is out there.