MtSnow reviews ‘Vintage: A Ghost Story’ by Steve Berman, published by Lethe press, released March 1st 2007. Audio edition narrated by Jason Frazier, released August 9th 2014.
Why MtSnow chose to review this story: This one had all the elements that fascinate me, including a mystery, ghosts, and urban legends. And to top it off, the beginning intrigued me enough to grab the audio, and with Jason Frazier narrating, I knew it must be a good one!
Note: a copy of this book was supplied in exchange for an honest review. The audio was purchased at reviewer’s expense, as the story was so interesting after reading the first chapter.
BLURB: A lonely gay teen bides his time with trips to strangers’ funerals and Ouija board sessions, desperately searching for someone to love – and a reason to live following a suicide attempt.
Walking an empty stretch of New Jersey highway on an autumn night, he meets a strange and beautiful boy who looks like he stepped out of a dream. But the vision becomes into a nightmare when the boy turns out to be the local urban legend, the ghost of a star athlete killed in 1957 – a ghost with a deadly secret and a dangerous obsession.
Vintage: A Ghost Story is an intense thriller that looks at the dark side of gay urban fantasy, where the dead can never rest and trapped spirits never find peace.
Listen. Queue in The Everly Brothers… ‘Bye, bye love. Bye, bye sweet caress. Bye, bye loneliness, I wish that I could diiiee…’. Very apt song for this story.
So, the beginning of this story starts with two goth teens sitting in the cemetery on some gravestones, chattering away attending a funeral, and wearing vintage clothing. This scene does a fantastic job of setting up the mood for the rest of the story. I found myself immediately pulled into these teen’s attitudes, the narrator’s thoughts and words, all brought to life by listening to Jason Frazier. Everything is from the 17-yr-old main character’s POV, and I don’t even recall his name, but you definitely got a feeling for the events through his eyes, almost as if they were happening to you.
His friend Trace comes up with a theory…due to his own previous attempt at suicide, he now has ‘the sight’, and this is why he can see the dead everywhere.. He becomes a participant in Possession or channeling. Are ghosts actually inhabiting his body?
There is some very gruesome imagery, but also some melancholy, including an interesting view of family. A family he has made his own since he has left home via bus before being thrown out after coming out and being told he is shameful, and that he wasn’t welcome at home anymore.
He gets on a bus out of town and rides to his aunt’s in New Jersey. He asks if he can stay with her questions unasked. He doesn’t attend school, hasn’t graduated, and she mentions a curfew and that he get his GED. She can’t cook and burns pop tarts when she makes breakfast in guise of wanting to talk with him. I love the way she interacts with him.
His best friend Trace (short for Tracey) has a different family. Her 15-yr-old brother’s name is 2nd Mike. 2nd Mike was named after their older brother who had disappeared, thought maybe dead. And they have a mother who has been committed. All makes for interesting supporting characters. And their dad is distant, always tired, works as a mechanic.
The MC becomes obsessed with ‘Josh’, a young man who walks the New Jersey highway after having been run down 40 years before on a lone stretch of highway. For the first time in his life, someone wants him. A boy. Makes him feel all this confusing and wonderful things.
Spooky story about ‘Josh’. In 1957 a lone high school student, star athlete is run down on Highway 47. And he just keeps walking until he disappears, everyday, until, that is, our MC interacts with him.
The MC’s love of everything vintage gives him the first opportunity and courage to talk to this young man walking down the road in some perfect vintage clothing. Only as he wakes up the next morning and thought about the way he disappeared when he turned back to talk to him did he actually think he may have seen a ghost.
He works at this vintage clothing store for an alcoholic gentlemen that is always asking about his ‘girlfriend’, the girl he borrowed clothing for and dressed to impress, was Trace, but the old man assumes he’s trying to impress his best friend. He dare not tell the old man he is gay, afraid of what his generation might think, and doesn’t want to lose his job.
This story is at times dark and sad with the young teen’s need to feel desired and wanted by another boy. And it seems as if someone just may have ulterior motives..
Some of the visions and a strange interaction with a haunted doll is really creepy, and an image of a WWII soldier who is missing his nose is rather disturbing. There is some awful stuff in this story, very vivid, but each in their own way adding to the whole atmosphere of horror and suspense..
Possession and strange things that happen when you get what you think you want. Makes you wonder..?
The story also includes a lesbian dance club, drugs, glowsticks, underage drinking, and even acting as a beard for a friend. Ouija boards and hanging men. He begins to question himself…Are all the people in town actually ghosts or are they real?
Two long ago mysteries,and a bit of a surprise conclusion. How do you know the difference between love and infatuation? What if you fall for the wrong person while the right one is underfoot?
So many elements in this story kept it moving rather quickly, which, especially for a young adult audience, keeps the listener/reader engaged. I could see young and adult alike enjoying this suspenseful ghost story, and the mysteries are resolved by the conclusion.
Jason Frazier does an awesome job with this at times creepy but also enlightening young adult story of first love, ghosts, drugs, and goth. The audio effects, Jason’s fantastic sense of timing as well as his various voices add even more to this ghost story. As always, Jason Frazier’s narration is tops. He’s so good at emoting, and makes listening very enjoyable.
Highly recommended to readers young and old that enjoy historical elements in current day, a mystery and ghosts.
9.5 of 10 pots of gold
Where To Purchase:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Some tidbits about Steve Berman…
I was born in Philadelphia with the heat of late August, just before the month turns to serene autumn. After five years my folks abandoned the city for the suburbs of New Jersey. Remember that sheltered child on the block? That was me.
I grew up watching both my folks reading so of course I fell in love with books.
I mostly write gay speculative fiction or gay young adult stories. I’ve edited a lot of anthologies. A lot. But they are all quality works.
I’ve been a finalist for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (for my novel Vintage, A Ghost Story), the Lambda Literary Award (for Charmed Lives and two editions of Wilde Stories), the Golden Crown Literary Award (for So Fey and Heiresses of Russ 2011), and the Shirley Jackson Award (for Where That Dark Eye Glances).
Website – http://www.steveberman.com/
ABOUT THE NARRATOR:
Jason Frazier is an Emmy Award-winning voice actor, performer and casting
director working in animation, interactive, audiobooks, theatre, commercials,
new media, film and television. Member of SAG-AFTRA, AEA, ASIFA and
the Television Academy. “…one of the best…a true performer.” – Audible
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jfrazier1984
Website – http://www.jasonfrazierofficial.com