I was fully expecting a traditional ghost story. Maybe a haunted house. Something that is tried-and-true in the ghost story genre. And I don’t mean that as shade; I like ghost stories that follow a formula. They are still scary as F if they are written well. The creepy ethereality of gothic horror is my jam. And that’s what I thought Ghost Eaters was going to deliver.
Was I wrong in the most deliciously skin-crawling way! Ghost Eaters reads like a mature Young Adult novel that merges the horror of fresh-out-of-college, emergence-from-the-chrysalis loss with the ghostly supernatural. Chapman’s prose fits the YA genre; this novel borders on YA and contemporary adult horror. It feels like YA to me because, well, I’m not in my early twenties like the characters are. But the events and themes in the novel are better suited for an adult (if young adult) audience. There are mature themes here of death, grief, the loss of friends, parents, and loved ones. There is the threat of loss of the self: perception is a two-way mirror in this novel, and you’re never quite sure which side of the glass you’re on.
The story follows a young woman and is told from her perspective. Erin is a privileged, educated woman. She has family, family money, family connections, but despite this, she flounders in life. That’s the first horror, one that is banal and familiar to many. Erin is part of a group of friends; their leader has floundered in worse ways than Erin. Silas seems to be drowning in a drug-induced depression. When their social circle falls apart as the result of an untimely death, each one of them seeks to find meaning and reconnection in different ways.
Some of them take the task literally.
And that’s the second horror of this novel. The dark mental and physical adventure that ensues as Erin, Amaya, and Toby play dangerously with the line between living and dying, the present and the afterlife. I won’t ruin this for the reader. Just know that “ghost” in this novel has multiple meanings, and the loss that one associates with death is more than never seeing someone again.
A worthy Halloween horror read that haunts in multiple ways!
See my other early Halloween Horror reviews here: The Ghosts That Haunt Me: Memories of a Homicide Detective by Steve Ryan, Gallows Hill: A Novel by Darcy Coates, A Fig For All The Devils: A Novel by C.S. Fritz, and Anybody Home? A Novel by Michael J. Seidlinger