Review: The Ghost That Ate Us by Daniel Kraus

It's release day (and I'm actually on time for once in my life!)


The Ghost That Ate Us by Daniel Kraus

Released July 12, 2022

Source: ARC received for review consideration

Dark Fiction  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Bookshop

Maybe you read about it on Twitter. Maybe a friend sent you a news clip. Maybe you saw it on an episode of Spectral Journeys that night you were flipping through channels, unable to sleep.

Maybe after reading the true story, you won’t ever sleep again.

On June 1, 2017, six people were killed at a Burger City franchise off I-80 near Jonny, Iowa. It was the bizarre and gruesome conclusion to nine months of alleged paranormal activity at the fast-food joint—events popularly known as “the Burger City Poltergeist.”

The story inspired Facebook memes, Twitter hashtags, Buzzfeed listicles, Saturday Night Live sketches, and more. But the case was never much more than a punchline…until bestselling writer Daniel Kraus (The Shape of Water, The Living Dead) decided to head to Iowa to dig up what really happened.

Presented here is the definitive story of “the most exhaustively documented haunting in history,” including—for the first time ever—interviews with every living survivor of the tragedy.

The employees of Burger City were a family. They loved one another. At least, at the beginning.

But love can make you do unspeakable things.

My 2 Cents for Free!

The Ghost That Ate Us is set up like a true-crime novel but it’s all made up. If you don’t know that going in you might be a little perplexed at the eventual turn of events. I haven’t read a ton of true crime novels because, after the absolute horror show that was Fred and Rose, I couldn’t do it anymore, but this one is ok because even though it feels real, it’s all made up. Phew!

The author inserts himself into the book and tells the strange and sad tale of the murders that occurred at a Burger City franchise via interviews with the survivors, regulars of the restaurant, and your everyday busy body types. There are many photos and lots and lots of footnotes. I’m not going to sit here and lie. Footnotes slip me up and slow me down and this book was no exception. Some of them added to the story and were interesting but many of them felt useless and because I’m so nosy I had to stop and read every one each time I saw that little footnote # stamped onto the page. It kind of took me ages to finish the book but I’m not sorry I did. It was genuinely creepy, and the sense of slow creeping dread was done very well. The “wtf is going on here” factor kept me going because I had to know! 

I enjoyed getting to know the employees, some of their stories will break your heart. Many of them are broken in so many ways even before all of this. I worked in a similar place when I was a teen and it all felt very realistic. The pay sucks, the management sucks, and the customers (mostly) suck but you do create a little sense of family even when things are horrible. Or maybe because of it. Anyhow, I thought this book captured all of that very skillfully and I grew to care about many of these people. 

Some of the poltergeist action is a little light-hearted and silly at times and it worked for me. I always appreciate a little levity in a book filled with so much despair. Dez cracked me up every time she opened her mouth.

So, while it may have taken me a while to read it, and some of it was a little slow going, I was fully invested in these people and their stories, and I never felt the urge to put it down and forget about it as I’ve been doing with too many books this year.

 


Comments

  1. I kind of love the idea of this one being written like a real true crime book, although halfway through I'd probably start skipping the footnotes, because I'm like that. ;D

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  2. I like Kraus's writing. This sounds right up my alley. Great review!

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  3. I like that it captures the employees so well- this sounds cool!

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  4. Oh that's interesting. Written like a real story but it's not.

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