Mike’s Book Report: Ghost Eaters (2022)

★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Written by Clay McLeod Chapman.

By taping into today’s horrifying zeitgeist, drug addiction, Clay McLeod Chapman give us a terrifying dose of what ails us all. Ghost Eaters is the perfectly flawed mirror image of our collective societal faults. But don’t fret, McLeod Chapman sprinkles in a little bit of hope too!

The book, released in late 2022, is largely focused around a quartet of slackers — Erin, Silas, Amara, and Silas. Not Austin, Texas slackers, but their more metal brethren in Richmond, Virginia. The quartet of post college pals is worn out by the continued addiction behaviors from the group’s informal leader, Silas. Silas embraces all the classic addiction conduct: thievery, lying, being a crappy boyfriend, couch surfing, and relationship malfeasance.

Silas’ girlfriend, Erin, is perfectly torn between the her charming addict boyfriend, her new job, and her upper-upper middle class parents and their dated southern expectations. Erin’s days are already filled with doubts and worries about the next steps into adulthood when her life is radically altered by Silas’ already expected demise. 

Erin and Amara wander through episodes of binge drinking and metal excess in the form of Richmond thrash metal stalwarts, Municipal Waste. They both struggle to make sense of Silas’ death, but it’s the fourth wheel of the quartet, the nebbish Tobias, that’s able to piece apart Silas’ struggles and his other worldly hallucinations. 

After Tobias pours over Silas’ psychedelic manuscripts he comes to the conclusion that all is not lost and that there is a way to not only connect with the great beyond, but to Silas himself. As Tobias begins to experiment with a very specific strain of psychedelic mushroom he quickly wanders in to a ghost-riddled trip. He’s able to connect with other lost spirits who are stuck in a spiritual middle space. 

Convinced that this will potentially provide closure for the entire group of friends, Tobias finds a near-finished suburban development and decides to unleash “ghost” on Amara and Erin.  The ghost trip isn’t for everyone. Some have adverse reactions and others, well, they become deeply and immediately addicted. As soon as Erin is able to connect with Silas through a heaping series of doses of ghost, her life takes on a very different trajectory. 

Scary DVDs! Woo!

As Erin spirals, Amara quickly distances herself from the group, but it’s Tobias that realizes there’s some serious money to be had by the unique ghost experience. As any good drug dealer does, he leans on the sad and distraught, and in particular, he preys on Erin’s deep addiction and her loving and misguided connection to Silas. 

McLeod Chapman has a wonderful and simple way of bringing the reader to the table in an engaging way. Not unlike crime writers Richard Stark or even Jim Thompson, McLeod Chapman puts forth an exceptionally accessible narrative that immediately and horrifyingly grabs the reader and doesn’t let go. In the modern era everyone has been impacted by some form of addiction and his relatable writing style brings these horrors to life — or rather back to life. 

The later part of Ghost Eaters does feel a little unfocused with the cast of characters that Tobias employs in his psychedelic ghost production facility. There’s even an odd ghost baby/toddler that becomes fixated on Erin. While these later elements of Ghost Eaters feel like unnecessary chuff, the book as a whole is a fascinating rumination on addiction and the lengths we’ll all go through to turn back the clocks of time and reconnect with lost memories. 

Ghost Eaters is availavble at great book stores everywhere!

ISBN: 978-1-68369-217-1

Categories: BooksTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: