Review: Ghoster by Jason Arnopp

Ghoster by Jason Arnopp
Orbit (October 2019)

496 pages; $12.50 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

I think it’s important to tell readers straight away that Jason Arnopp writes modern horror stories like nobody else in this industry. His books are written for horror lovers alive today, in this cultural moment. Ghoster is for me, you and us—right here, right now.

I had a similar feeling while reading Jason’s first book, The Last Days of Jack Sparks. The protagonist was an author/social media influencer, so Arnopp employed the agency of social media to add conflict and complications to the story, adding layers and depth in a unique way.

In Ghoster, Arnopp takes a deeper dive into the ways social media plays a significant part in complicating our lives.

Our protagonist, Kate Collins, is navigating the waters of online dating through her Tinder app. Collins is a seasoned paramedic in the city so she’s accustomed to high levels of adrenaline and activity. In Kate’s downtime, she keeps the dopamine levels high with a serious social media addiction that crosses into her love life pretty regularly.

On Valentine’s Day, she sends a man a passive/aggressive notification through Tinder hoping that he’ll reciprocate.

From this moment on, we enter into Kate’s mindset as her perceived reality and what’s really going on intersect and mingle, blurring the lines between fact and fantasy.

This book was a compulsive reading affair that I participated in over the span of a few days. Don’t let the size of this book (almost 500 pages) intimidate you; the story moves at an incredibly fast pace, and the nature of the story itself is extremely addictive. Plus, there are pages of recorded text messages between Kate and her best friend, Izzy, which I found to be wildly entertaining. At the end of every chapter was that nagging feeling of “just one more.” You know that feeling! If you binge-watch Netflix shows or read horror as much as I do, you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

About midway through the book, that low-key buzz in the back of your mind that keeps repeating the words “What is happening??” begins to start formulating some theories. This is where things go from compelling to downright rabid. I devoured the last half of this book just so I could finally learn what was going on—my reader’s brain was starved for answers. And trust me, you won’t see this coming.

As with The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Arnopp expertly infuses our everyday modern lives with the unexplainable, the supernatural and the weird, and the result is mind blowing. I loved my time with this book—I think it’s a cautionary tale (why are we so dependent on our phones and social media?? There has to be some kind of lasting consequences from this behavior!) and a garden variety ghost story/mystery with unexpected twists and turns. A page turner to the very end.

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