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REVIEW: Close to You by Stacia Kane



Churchwitch Chess Putnam has seen, and banished, her share of ghosts, but not of the Christmas Past variety–the holiday has been illegal since the Church of Real Truth defeated the undead and took control of the world in 1997. Yet when she and her boyfriend, Terrible, make a trip to an abandoned auto junkyard, they find more than the rusted auto parts and spare tires they’d bargained for. They also run across a creepy Miss Havisham-type hell-bent on reuniting with her long-dead husband just in time for Christmas–even if it means taking Chess and Terrible down with her into the City of Eternity…

If Chess and Terrible don’t manage to keep these ghosts in the past, they won’t have a future…

Dear Ms. Kane,

No, I’ve never read any of the books in this series before. I hadn’t even read the other review we’ve posted at DA by Shuzluva a few years ago because frankly dystopia books aren’t my thing. Which makes it all the more bizarre that this little short story caught my attention at netgalley. I think it was the line on the cover “A Downside Ghosts Holiday Story” that did it. Ghosts during the holiday? Sure, why not and maybe that will cut through the usual saccharine sweet Christmas books that start appearing each year about now.

As I said, I knew nothing about this world you’ve created before starting this short story but as Shuzluva mentions, the world building is great. It’s laid out with elegant simplicity yet is succinct enough to fit in the length of this story and still leave room for the actual story. I’m very impressed since a lot of times when I read works this short, with no need for filling in the blanks, I feel cheated – but not here. I am curious, though, as to why Terrible sounds like an ESL pirate hillbilly.

The story quickly moves from background set up to – whoa – seriously creepy old lady to the slam bang finale. I had to think that if I lived in this world and had seen what Chess apparently has that I would have picked up on it sooner that Something Is, not just wrong but, Terribly Wrong. But then there’d be no act 3 which frankly is actually fairly hilarious, in a ghastly ghostly, raising the dead kind of way. The nativity figurine flinging, Christmas tree bashing, holiday village house hurling ending had me laughing my ass off even as Chess and Terrible attempt to keep these determined ghosts in check, stay alive themselves and keep Chess from going into withdrawal.

This usually isn’t my genre of choice but I enjoyed this one enough that I just might check out some more of Chess and Terrible. But it will be a long time before I can hear that Carpenter’s song without picturing this hoarders house from holiday hell. B


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Patricia Eimer
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 11:46:29

    I haven’t heard of this series before but I’m going to go check it out now.

  2. helen
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 12:26:33

    This is my VERY favorite urban fantasy series (and that is saying something since I read just about every uf series out there). I have recommended it to so many people, many who do not read this genre and so far everyone has loved the series.

  3. Jayne
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 15:29:02

    @helen: In that case I really do need to go check it out some more.

  4. Misti
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 15:59:46

    I also like this series, even though I think not everybody will because of the drug use and bad language. But his name is Terrible… not Trouble. :)

  5. Jayne
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 18:04:50

    @Misti: Whoops!

  6. Maura
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 18:07:23

    I am a huge fan of this series and its worldbuilding, and can’t wait to read this- but his name’s Terrible. ;) Why he talks like that is part of the worldbuilding- Terrible speaks Downspeak, which is the dialect used by the lower classes in Downside. Chess doesn’t because she’s well educated and works for the Church.

  7. Erin Satie
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 00:20:27

    Chiming in to say that I also ADORE this series. So good. Start from the beginning! It’s worth it.

  8. Jane A
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 08:21:45

    I love this series, too. I have actually listened to it in audio, and the narrator, Bahni Turpin, is fantastic.

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