Unholy Ghosts - Stacia Kane Phenomenal start to this series!!!! From the comments that I had read prior to picking this up, I knew it was something that interested me. The way some of my friends gushed over it made me nervous, though. Sometimes I build a series up in my head and then I’m disappointed in the first book. I hate that, I hate that. So I waited for a long time to read this one. The low(er) ratings for Unholy Ghosts also led me to believe that this was a world building bummer. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I will try to address the issues that I’ve come across from other readers. I think that if you are prepared, like I was, going into the series, you’ll get so much more out of it and not be on the constant look out for more of your normal expectations.First of all, the drug use is rampant. Especially for Chess, the heroine of the Downside Ghosts series. In fact, much of the story centers around her dependency. It’s hard to write about an addict without centering much of their time and effort on their drug of choice. And the thing is, Chess didn’t necessarily seem to have a certain preference for any one thing. It seemed more as if she is running away from life in general; her past and present. Any escape will do as long as it helps her separate enough to be consistently numb. In fact, that part in the Pink Floyd song that says "I have become comfortably numb..." kept running through my head. Chess is always popping some sort of pill, trying to forget just enough, but still be able to function in a world in which she really needs her wits about her.Second, the romance aspect is definitely NOT one of the focal points of this story. While its obvious that Chess could have her pick of a handful of men, her self disgust is evident in the way that she is completely oblivious to the attention. She either ignores the attention, blows it off as men just being men, or twists the situation into something so much less than it could be. My heart just aches for her!! There is one scene that was particularly poignant for me. Chess sees a couple embracing in a bar, exhibiting a major makeout session. Her reaction to witnessing the gentle way the man holds the woman is empty sadness, and this innate knowledge that she will never have or deserve that interaction. The saving grace to this downer of the story is that the reader is led to understand that a romance is budding between Chess and a certain somebody, whether she realizes it or not. He’s just as lost as she is. And once I realized what was happening here, I READ FASTER! One smoking hot kiss later, and I fell in love. This book is all about the beginnings of this relationship and how they come to trust each other. Not only does he protect Chess while endangering his own life, but they become friends…something Chess has never really had. So we are literally watching what I firmly wish will become a strong, stable, lasting relationship between two broken people. I’m not sure if two people have needed each other more.Okay, no more gush-fest about the love story, because it really isn’t a huge deal here. The world building took quite a bit, but it was never boring. From the first couple of pages, I was completely drawn in. My curiosity was constantly peaked about what was coming up next. And just as soon as I’d have a question about one aspect of the storyline, I’d turn the page and get my answer, only to stumble upon two more questions. The scenery changes constantly, and Ms Kane does a fabulous job of straddling the fine line between descriptive and too much information. She sets the stage for the Downside world, but lets you fill in the extras. You know it’s like a futuristic ghetto; dirty streets, hungry people, and ramshackle buildings overlaid with the magic abilities of this new post apocalyptic world. Chess works for the Church, the new government/enforcement agency that controls magic and therefore controls the people. Someone compared this series to the Fever series, and I have to agree to the same feeling that you get during the last couple of books, after the Unseelie are residing in Dublin. This is a very dark book. Our hero, Terrible, is not a very nice guy. But you still end up rooting for him because he’s still the good guy, too. He has a gentleness that he doesn’t let people see, and that is one of the most endearing qualities to find in a hero. He’s a drug lord’s enforcer, but wait! A tender look, a smoking hot kiss, and he’s at the top of the anti-hero list. He’s ruthless when he needs to be and that ruthlessness comes out most strongly when he has a need to protect the tiny little witch that he has somehow become paired up with. And Chess, oh Chess! The girl needs a hug, and some good sleep, and she needs someone (ahem, Terrible…) to tell her that she’s a good person no matter her past; that life is worth living, and that she needs to protect herself from everyone who tries to keep her down…including herself. All in all, I was fascinated with this book. I’m so GLAD that I had low expectations going in, because I was floored when I picked it up and got sucked in on page two. If you have been waiting because of mixed reviews, if you love Urban Fantasy, if you love powerful stories that play out over multiple books, START this series. I, for one, am stoked to get to the rest of them!