A hungry ghost escapes from a dark realm into the human world, where it enters the unconscious body of a woman named Sam. When Sam appears to miraculously awaken from her accident-induced coma, her lesbian lover, alcoholic ex-husband, and well-meaning family must come together to try and stop the ghost from devouring everything Sam once loved. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Boston, a mysterious new kitten has just been born who holds the key to understanding what has happened to Sam.
Will Sam’s loved ones be able to put things back in their proper place, or will the ghost destroy them first?
The concept of the hungry ghost has been around for centuries, mostly in eastern religions but has sneaked into Christianity as well. The concept is that a demon-like creature inhabits a realm of the living and crave so much that it destroys everything. This concept is prevalent and strongly illustrated in Dalena Storm’s debut, “The Hungry Ghost.” The story of Sam, a woman who is vulnerable to becoming a vessel for this hungry ghost through a coma, becomes the focus of the hungry ghost, a creature that knows no limits around Sam’s ex-husband, family, and lesbian love interest. What unfolds in a well written, fast paced novel that makes takes the reader on a trip that is worth taking. Ms. Storm has a novel that works on several different levels. There are questions about the afterlife, reincarnation, identity, and the stress of a family where things are just not quite right. A nuance that is well illustrated and might be missed is the way the family so badly wants Sam to be back after the coma that they are willing to neglect her behavior, say that it is part of her recovery, and the stress of her illness and her returning home in a completely different form is something that many families experience after a loved one has been sick for an extended period of time. I could feel the disappointment in the way they just wanted everything to be better but it was not going to happen.
This is a fun novel with good, compelling characters, and a plot that does not get too out of hand considering how it is possible. Even though this is based on hungry ghosts portrayed in many religions (with some very strong ties through descriptions and actions), it is not something that is described in any way. It is as if this is not a story to educate on a religious concept but to use it as a story telling device. I like fiction that does this: fiction that leaves it to the readers to research what a hungry ghost might be, and once the reader finds out, it opens up an entirely new dimension to the story. This makes me like “The Hungry Ghost” even more.
I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.