Summary : Arresting. Obscene. Brilliant!!! I have bathed and reveled in soot. There is no other way to describe it, I feel like I am covered in a film of filth and like it.
Kane did a wondrously creative and intriguing thing when she thought up the Downside and the people that inhabit it. Genius really. Her realm is crude, corrupt, complicated and becomes unexpectedly compelling, after the first few chapters. Initially, world building and character introductions are dawdling to the point of feeling aimless; it is only after the kidnapping occurs that things accelerate into a steady, engaging pace. From then on, there is no escaping the shameless wonders of the Downside.
Chess Putnam is not your typical heroine. This protagonist is jaded, twisted, neurotic, and a drug addict, more importantly she is a highly skilled ghost hunter and debunker for the Church of Real Truth. You see, the world has fallen victim to the dead, populations have been decimated, and the only way thing between the ghosts and the public is the power of fully tattooed witches. There is no religion, only Truth.
As if banishing the dead was not threatening enough, Chess’ illicit habits provoke her to be stalked and blackmailed by the deadly drug lord called Bump. In order to claw her way out of debt, Chess is to uncover the mysteries behind the haunting at the local airport with the aide of Bump’s feared enforcer, Terrible. Chess tries to balance her Church assignments, blackmail, and drug addiction, as she gets swept away into something darker and more sinister.
These characters are original, every single one of them. I had a hard time getting past the choppy dialect and mannerisms of some, but once I accepted this as part of their personas, I was able to see them for who they were meant to be. They resonate with the dark and twisted intricacies of human nature. In spite of how misaligned Chess is, I found myself rooting for her and her plight. Overall plot progression was exciting making up for the slow start. There were so many different things going on that there was never a dull moment.
To say this novel is different is an understatement. It goes places that most don’t dare tread. It gets down right gritty and is enthralling because of it. I loved this for having the confidence to be unabashed as it drug me into the trenches of the Downside.
* Feature Image obtained from Stacia Kane‘s site. *