Unholy Ghosts - Stacia Kane While I was reading Unholy Ghosts, I was totally into it, completely invested in the tortuous plot, the somewhat frightening Urban Fantasy beasties, and the fates of our tortured protagonists, the wonderfully original and nuanced Chess and Terrible. But whenever I set Unholy Ghosts down, even if only for a minute to grab a snack, I always found a reason not to pick it up again. I think this reluctance is partly the fault of my current reading mood—I find myself wanting quieter, more pensive books and quiet and pensive Unholy Ghosts is not; action-packed and fast-paced is more appropriate. The other reason for my incomplete enjoyment is the convoluted plot. It was occasionally difficult to follow what was going on, which I blame on three things.1. ridiculous chapter breaks: I never really thought about it before, but what are the rules an author should abide by when deciding on chapter breaks? I like the occasional cliffhangery chapter break, but overall, I use chapter breaks as ideal places to stop when putting a book down for a while. So if the chapters frequently end in the middle of pivotal action sequences or important discussions about unresolved mysteries, I become lost in the story. This confusion is exacerbated when picking up the book after a longer break, since I can’t recall what was going on if the issue was unsettled when I put it down. Essentially, the human mind likes to compartmentalize, and constantly open-ended chapters do not help with this. 2. largely unexplained mythology: so the gist of Unholy Ghosts is the ghosts have escaped and the Church (not affiliated with any sort of religion practiced currently) controls the ghosts in exchange for absolute power. Each chapter bears a fake epigraph from Church propaganda, which allowed a bit of insight into this world (which seems a bit dystopic to be honest—you get phrases like “the Church, only the Church, knows Truth.” I’m hoping that perhaps the consequences of having an almighty institution susceptible to corruption are explored in the sequels). But the secrets to debunking ghosts, performing curses, and sequestering spirits to an underground City are mostly unexplained, and as someone rather uninitiated to the Urban Fantasy genre, I didn’t understand much. As a result, I couldn’t figure out the main mystery alongside Chess because I didn’t have all the necessary information to even speculate as to what was going on. 3. too many plot lines: I think there is just a bit too much thrown in here. Basically, there are three major plots and several minor plots that should ideally converge at the climax, but this plethora of storylines was hard to follow. So much was packed in to the novel that there was a bit too much action; I never had a chance to relax and contemplate what key events had just unrolled and what would happen next. The best thing about Unholy Ghosts is the characters. Although the action is most important, characterization is held in equal esteem to plot. Consequently, we have excellent characters who avoid becoming stereotypes. Terrible, the hulking henchman, could’ve just been a block of masculine muscle, but in actuality, he is intelligent and gentle. Chess, a drug addicted orphan, is remarkably empowered and driven. The relationship between these two is realistically and lovingly written. I enjoyed watching it unfold, and along with the complications introduced by the omnipotent Church, I expect it to be a highlight of the sequels.