Orbit | 2019 (24 October) | 334p | Review copy | Buy the book
Kate Collins has left her life behind in Leeds to start afresh in Brighton. She is moving in with her new boyfriend, Scott, who lives in a beautiful flat with a balcony overlooking the sea. Kate couldn’t be more excited, or in love. But everything crashes around her when she arrives at the flat with all of her possessions only to find it empty. The furniture is gone and so, too, is Scott. Kate has been ghosted – Scott has left her with no word or any communication at all. All that’s left of him is his damaged smartphone, which she finds on the balcony. When Kate manages to access the phone, it’s then that she realises that she didn’t know Scott at all and the more she discovers, the more she has to know, whatever the cost.
I am a huge fan of The Last Days of Jack Sparks and so I couldn’t read Ghoster soon enough or fast enough. Again, it has the most fantastic premise and is an original and witty take on the spooky concept of ghosts. While the flat is creepy enough, the focus this time is on social media and smartphones. Kate is an addict. She knows that. And social media here is shown at its very worst and most terrifying.
How well do we know people when all we do learn is from the tweets, posts and images that they put online? This is a fascinating theme and Jason Arnopp explores it thoroughly. But this is also a horror novel, a ghost story, and that means we can expect chills. The flat, so beautiful in the daytime, becomes menacing and very scary at night with all of the power disconnected. And that’s not all there is to fear. It is nerve wracking at times.
I especially loved the first half of the novel as we get to know Kate and learn the risks she’s taken to make this new phase of her life work. She’s a paramedic. There’s something heroic about her even though she is distinctly flawed.
Events become a little too unbelievable for me during the second half and, as a result, it wasn’t as scary as I wished. Also, there’s something truly unpleasant about some of these characters. Scott is not somebody I could ever like and I struggled at times with Kate. Nevertheless, Ghoster is an exciting and fast read, full of humour as well as those genuinely spooky moments. And it is packed with fascinating and deadly ideas about how lives are lived these days mostly on the phone. Perhaps it’s time to turn it off.
The Last Days of Jack Sparks