Review: Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman

Review by Eliza

Erin’s been addicted to Silas for a long time. She’s the girl from an upper class family with money that’s all about image, while he’s forbidden, a little wild, dangerous even. Erin can’t fully wean herself off him, even when Silas’s destructive behavior threatens her goals and happiness. When Silas dies, it isn’t hard to convince Erin to use a drug that will let her see Silas beyond the veil, but nobody tells her about the side effects …

Title: Ghost Eaters | Pub Date: 2022-09-20 | Pages: 304 | Genre: Horror/Paranormal | Source: NetGalley | Unstarred Review

Ghost Eaters Review

This started off as a promising read. Most people can relate to having an unhealthy interest they have to eliminate from their life, and in that respect, it’s possible to relate to Erin. Relationships are tricky, and no matter how bad someone is for you, it can be hard to let go if you’re still attracted to them and feel that connection.

The thing is, it’s easy to see how uneven some of the other characters are. Given how close her friend circle was, it was surprising none of them made plans to go to Silas’s funeral with Erin, and it seemed like this was a deliberate effort to isolate her, making her seem vulnerable. The thing is, despite her on-again, off-again relationship with Silas, Erin was otherwise a fairly strong person and seemed to know her own mind. She had goals and she wasn’t swayed by invitations to move to New York or her mother’s efforts to marry her off. Erin knew what she did and didn’t want in her future. Considering how well she knew herself, she fell apart pretty quickly. Plus, there were some things that made me wonder. I mean, Silas trying to pimp her out wasn’t a total dealbreaker? Hello red flags screaming that this guy doesn’t respect you or care about you at all. Perhaps if Erin had seemed more lost, without career aspirations and ambitions, it would be easier to buy into that. But it felt like inconsistent characterization. Yes, people are messy, but this just didn’t track as consistent characterization for me. She quickly devolved and turned from a promising young woman with clear career goals into a mess, later referred to as empty, which made me wonder if the choice to have a female protagonist was deliberate because of some historical views about women being weak and needing a man to complete them, and falling apart without them. Since society hasn’t historically viewed men that way, would they buy this premise if the roles were reversed? I wondered about that more and more as I turned the pages.

There’s also a complete disregard that Erin was vulnerable because of grief, not because she’d always been this blank slate of a person who amounted to nothing on her own.

The second half of the book really unraveled for me. Erin had zero willpower, but the drug wasn’t even working the way she wanted and she wasn’t seeing Silas. And even when she thought she was, she questioned how wrong everything was, how unlike him. 

The second part of the book also reads more like developing a drug addiction and all that goes with that, and less like a spooky paranormal story. Erin is also aware of what’s going on around her and not completely lost to the drug, at least, aware enough to narrate how the people around her start to lose weight and lose themselves.

Toby turned into a sexual harasser and I genuinely wondered why she stayed. There were so many points where she could walk out and get away, and chose not to. I can’t fully buy into that being about fear, because there were threats inside and outside of that house and she could see that. 

There was also something about the ending that didn’t track for me, so please don’t read on if you want to avoid spoilers.




Her parents let her have access to the family lawyer in exchange for keeping their names out of the papers. Erin would have no control over that, first. Second, her parents should have been subject to an investigation because she called them begging for help, and they denied her. They could have prevented a lot of deaths if they’d listened to her, and any lawyer or cop doing their due diligence would have found out about that phone call. It would have come up in court. And then reporters could have written about it. So the notion they let her use the lawyer in exchange for keeping their names out of the paper didn’t make any sense at all. And why would Erin want a family lawyer more concerned with protecting the person paying their bills than protecting their actual client? She was smarter than that. And that’s part of the reason sometimes it felt like she was turned stupid and needy just to serve the plot. 

Plus, she needed a criminal attorney. The family just happens to have a criminal attorney on retainer? Given how important their image was to them and what little we are told about their status, that seems doubtful. This book would have been so much stronger if it had ended with her burning it all down. Instead, it circles back to the real world to try to tie things up with a neat bow. And it completely unravels because of a lack of accuracy about the legal system and criminal investigations.

Plus, a note about the alleged connection between Erin and Silas that was supposed to be so powerful. I didn’t buy it. Silas treated her like garbage and took advantage of her all the time. He wanted to pimp her out to help his friend. He’s total trash, and he treats everyone around him like trash, and I don’t think he cared about Erin any more than anyone else. I don’t think she was needed at all for this connection; after all, Silas was screwing her friend behind her back. The person most connected to Silas was likely Toby because he bought into everything and worshipped him to the point of murder.

For me, the second half of this book pulled down a 3.5 star read that had an interesting premise with some problematic execution to 2.5 stars.

Eliza Bio

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