Release Date: September 20, 2005 (original)
Genre: AA Fiction, Horror
Review Date: August 16, 2012
Rating: 4 bookmarks
Book Synopsis: When Phoenix Smalls was ten, she nearly died at her parents' jazz club when she was crushed by a turn-of-the-century piano. Now twenty-four, Phoenix is launching a career as an R & B singer. She's living out her dreams and seems destined for fame and fortune. But a chance visit to a historical site in St. Louis ignites a series of bizarre, erotic encounters with a spirit who may be the King of Ragtime, Scott Joplin.
The sound of Scott Joplin is strange enough to the ears of the hip-hop generation. But the idea that these antique sounds are being channeled through Phoenix? Her life is suddenly hanging in the balance. How will she find her true voice and calling? Can the power of her own inner song give Phoenix the strength to fight to live out her own future? Or will she be forever trapped in Scott Joplin's doomed, tragic past? Stunningly original, Joplin's Ghost is a novel filled with art and intrigue -- and is sure to bring music to readers' ears.
The story was a pretty even mix of historical fiction and a urban ghost story all rolled up into one. I'd almost say this could even be considered speculative fiction. The story splits it time in the early 1900's and the present. The story was both detailed and entertaining. This book is a little longer than what I'm used to. It's been a long while since I've read a book over 450 pages, and it was worth every page. I picked up this book on a close out sale $4! Score! It's been sitting on my shelf for the last 3-4 years, I'm not sure why it took me so long to finally read it, but I'm glad that I finally did. I ended up suggesting it for one of the book clubs that I'm in, and go figure, they wanted to read it!
I hadn't heard of Scott Joplin before, but maybe that's because I'm not really into music. When I mentioned this book to my sister (whose in music education), she knew immediatly who he was. Joplin was very talented and was a famous in rag time composer. He died a horrible, slow death thanks to syphilis in 1917. I learned alot about him and his two wives and one common law wife. I thought it was interesting that I look up his most popular piece, Maple Leaf Ragon YouTube. In case you're curious too, I've posted one of the videos below of a a musician playing the song. Joplin was clearly a talented composer.
Phoenix, young, smart, talented musician and totally held hostage by Scott Joplins ghost. It's like Scott terrorized this poor girl almost to death! Along with the history on Joplin, it was interesting to get a peak into the music industry of the past and present. There were tons of secondary characters and they all for the most part, they all had their purpose. I liked reading about Phoenix and her family and how they all had gotten to where they were. It was a little strange that several of her family members and her boyfriend, Carlos, all had past interactions with ghosts. There were some interesting subplots going on as well. Between Phoenix's father/manager, Sarge, hating her boyfriend and her ex-boyfriend Ronn's hip hop label that has questionable and dangerous interactions with another hip hop artist, she had tons to deal with on top of the ghost. There was even reference of Biggie and Tupac, and the east coast/west coast friction that was going on back in the day relieving itself with her new label.
When all was said and done and Phoenix made it to the other side of this haunting, and suffered great tragedy getting there. I didn't really care for how the story ended with Phoenix explaining to Carlos that she believed that she was Freddie and he was Scott reincarnated. I was just hoping that she would take that experience as it was and move on. I didn't expect her to suggest that it was reincarnation that led Joplin to haunt her...that was odd. While I did question the shift at the very end, I did like that there was resolution.
If you're up for something a little out of the box, check this one out for sure.