Goth Chick News Reviews: Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman

Goth Chick News Reviews: Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman

Ghost Eaters (Quirk Books, September 20, 2022)

Author Clay McLeod Chapman only recently teamed up with Quirk Books, one of my all time favorite sources of strange and unusual stories. For that reason alone he should have been on my radar, not to mention that he is a prolific writer of comics, short stories and several other novels, most of the creepy variety. No, I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I made Chapman’s acquaintance via a suggestion from Amazon, whose algorithms, I must now grudgingly admit, know me pretty well.

In searching for some fun reading material to see me through a mind-numbing four-day business trip bracketed by an even more mind-numbing 9 hour round trip flight, Amazon served me up Ghost Eaters: A Novel as something I might like. Described by Esquire magazine as “Trainspotting meets Requiem For A Dream, rewritten as an avant-garde horror movie soundtracked by Nine Inch Nails,” it was a no-brainer that I was going to load this one on my tablet. However, I also hedged my bets by loading several other e-books by more familiar writers just in case this story couldn’t hold me.

Let me just tell you now, I needn’t have bothered.

Ghost Eaters might be one of the best stories I’ve read in recent memory and Chapman is my new fav. I’ll start with what Quirk Books wrote as the description of the book when it first hit shelves last September:

Erin hasn’t been able to set a single boundary with her charismatic but reckless college ex-boyfriend, Silas. When he asks her to bail him out of rehab — again — she knows she needs to cut him off. But days after he gets out, Silas turns up dead of an overdose in their hometown of Richmond, Virginia, and Erin’s world falls apart.

Then a friend tells her about Ghost, a new drug that allows users to see the dead. Wanna get haunted? he asks. Grieving and desperate for closure with Silas, Erin agrees to a pill-popping “séance.” But the drug has unfathomable side effects — and once you take it, you can never go back.

I’m sitting here trying to think of a way to tell you why I loved this story so much, without any spoilers. First, my bet is that you’ll see yourself in one of these characters. I certainly did, which made the entire rollercoaster ride seem a lot more personal. Second, as someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time engaging in various ghost-hunting activities, I never really considered what might happen if there really was a parallel world and I tore a small hole in the fabric between it and me.

But maybe the best reason I could not pull my eyeballs away from Chapman’s incredible storytelling is that the horror just kept mounting, and the characters, being human, couldn’t stop inviting it to get worse. I couldn’t scream into my iPad to tell them “DON’T DO THAT!” and had to watch/read helplessly while they did it anyway.

Clay McLeod Chapman

Chapman’s ghosts are terrifying in and of themselves, which run the gambit from shadows in the corner, to full on manifestations that are hungry for the life force of humans. He also explores the very real horrors of addiction, and the emotional and physical toll it takes on the addict and those around them. This isn’t a jump-scare story, nor one with a lot of bloody violence or hack-and-slash monsters. Instead, it is a tale of decisions and consequences resulting in a compounding horror you can’t look away from.

My personal rule on books is that if I buy it in an e-book format and I love it, I buy it again as a hardcover and add it to my library; something I did with Chapman’s Ghost Eaters the very moment I got home.

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