BRAT: A Ghost Story

Gabriel Smith

BRAT: A Ghost Story
Simon & Schuster Ltd
United Kingdom
5 June 2024

BRAT: A Ghost Story

Gabriel Smith

I was in the waiting room. Then I was in the examination room.

Gabriel’s skin is falling off.

His dad is dead.

He owes his editor a novel.

His girlfriend won’t answer his calls.

Tasked by his horribly well-adjusted brother with clearing out the family home for sale, Gabriel’s sanity quickly begins to unravel. His parents’ old manuscripts appear to change each time he reads them. A bizarre home video hints at long-buried secrets. And there’s a hideous man in the garden.

From a stunningly original new talent, this is a debut novel unlike anything you have read.


An astounding debut combining dark comedy, ghostly affairs and terrible heartache, Gabriel Smith’s play on autofiction presents an eerily clever story within a story within a story.

Gabriel’s father has just passed away, his mother lives in a care home and suffers from dementia, he hasn’t been able to contact his girlfriend in weeks, his editor is expecting a novel which he hasn’t yet started, and, most bizarrely, his skin is peeling off in large reptilian strips. Grief-stricken and alienated, Gabriel – the accurately dubbed ‘brat’ – packs up his London apartment and moves back to the decrepit family home, where he is expected to clear it out for property evaluation. Leaning on alcohol, Xanax, humour and violence to cope, the protagonist is confronted with strange, supernatural occurrences: a man in a deer mask keeps appearing in the backyard; a mysteriously familiar brother-sister duo turn up; old home videos and his mother’s old manuscripts keep changing.

Written in short, sharp chapters, no details are spared as to the inner workings of a struggling mind and the familiar ache of a disconnected family. In one moment, the reader is repelled by the protagonist’s tragic filth, bad attitude and decaying health, and in the next moment, one finds oneself grasped by the story’s mystery, laughing at the quick wit and wholeheartedly sharing Gabriel’s grief.

BRAT is everything I love in a novel – questions of insanity versus the occult, despair intermeshed with humour, and the familial tenderness that allows one to face the deep, dark unknown. This book will haunt you for days, yet draw you in with its wisecracks and woes.

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