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Joplin's Ghost

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  794 ratings  ·  87 reviews
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 spir ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by Washington Square Press (first published August 1st 2005)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  794 ratings  ·  87 reviews

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Tracy Darity
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joplin’s Ghost is an eclectic mixture of historical fiction and borderline urban prose. For the historical lesson on Scott Joplin, I give the book 5 stars; and for the lean to urban I give 4, my final rating falls somewhere in between. Do I dare mention again how I love me some writing by Tananarive Due? Well if you don’t know by now, she is one of my all time favorite authors, but I promise this review is unbiased.

What I enjoyed most about Joplin’s Ghost is that it took Ms. Due a little out of
I picked this up at a wonderful used bookstore - The Book Bank- in Alexandria, VA.

Seriously, how someone could let this book go, I don't know.

So awhile back, I read a Due short story on my kindle. I enjoyed it, and she got added to my list (the ever growing one) of "authors to try in novel form". When I saw this book, I figured, why not. Who doesn't love Scott Joplin?

(Yeah, okay, you're the one person. And I don't like you, so we're good. Seriously, go listen to Ragtime or Maple Leaf Rag. You a
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-books-2011
I'm jealous of Tananarive Due. We both worked at the Miami Herald before she left to become a really good writer of "speculative fiction" -- there's always fantasy elements to her work, but they're also very much tied to the real world. So, she shows us ghosts and spirits, but in a world where people who see ghosts and spirits are considered crazy. I also appreciate that race and ethnicity play a role in her works: too often, fantasy and science-fiction authors just erase these differences, like ...more
Sarah Weathersby
Aug 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this book. I was probably pouting about having to wait for another one of the Blood Brothers series, and nearly missed a national treasure.

I loved this book!! The "Ghost" thing may have kept me away for a while. And maybe it did take me a few dozen pages to stop checking under the bed for the ghost.

I love the way Ms. Due intertwines the historical life of Scott Joplin with the fictional life of an up-and-coming R&B singer who finds
I loved this ghost story. Gothic, haunting, part ghost story, historal fiction and love story.
Well done!
Lily Java
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book tore me up. That is not only hard to do it’s a wonderful thing. Ms. Due has written two stories with great pathos and then she interweaved them in a way that was dramatic, exceptional, and spellbinding. The first is a story about Scott Joplin the famous and tragic ragtime composer and musician from the early 1900’s. The second is the story of Phoenix Smalls, the fictionalized young contemporary singer and composer on the brink of becoming an established global success as a musician.

Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In “Joplin’s Ghost,” Phoenix Smalls is hilarious at the age of 10; she calls her father Sarge because “he turns practicing the piano into a military exercise, with a timer.” Sarge convinces his daughter to go into singing; she’s already a prodigy at the piano. She feels cursed having been born into a family of musicians, but takes her father’s advice. At 10, Phee, as she’s sometimes called, as well as Peanut by her father, has her first encounter with a ghost piano that falls on her, sending her ...more
Joplin's Ghost had the potential to be a fun, pulpy read, but it never worked for me—it felt like it needed a good editing session at the hands of a ruthless editor who'd be able to speed up the novel's pacing, deepen the characterisation and smooth out some of the clunkier passages of descriptive prose. The historical elements of the novel make for an interesting read, but they're at odds with the much more wooden scenes set in the present day (numerous references to Outkast and Beyoncé alone d ...more
Cheryl Branch
Jul 18, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a good read only because I love Love LOVE Ms. Due's novels. However, the historical portions began to bore me after a while. Not that it was not interesting, just that it is not something I am interested in - Jazz, music. Because of who I am, I did cross-reference information from Joplin's Ghost with non-fiction books about the Ragtime Era and Scott Joplin just to be in the know. Again there's a "however" - it felt more like a "required reading" instead of a joyful experience of escapin ...more
Vincent Chambati
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brilliant!!! Tananarive knows how to tell a story!! Its spun through a century with rad soundtrack that spans the same time frame. She pulls you back and forth through time yet you feel as though this is one tapestry. A might bit long but given the years that this story spans it is necessary
Mocha Girl
Oct 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
No one will know me until fifty years after I'm dead," Scott said. ~ Excerpt from Joplin's Ghost

Tananarive Due's latest release, Joplin's Ghost, exemplifies the restless and wandering spirit of musical genius Scott Joplin. The title says it all; however, this is more than just your typical ghost story. Due combines speculative and historical fiction with a splash of romance and urban drama to produce a great story - period. Joplin's Ghost centers on a young, eclectic, emerging Rhythm & Blue
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian Wood
Aug 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
Anne Gray
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, history
Half historical novel, half modern ghost story (the narrative goes back and forth between two time periods) featuring an interesting if not as strong as I'd have liked female musician protagonist.

I thought the book was really strong until near the end, where I got the impression perhaps the author wasn't sure what she wanted to do with the device she was using, so she got vague with it and I think I liked an earlier notion I'd had of where she was going better than what she did. Expectations, th
May 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published by Griot Audio, which specializes in contemporary African-American fiction. Well narrated by Lizan Mitchell. Joplins Ghost is part well-researched historical novel (following Scott Joplin's life) and part modern novel (following the character of Phoenix Smalls, an up and coming R&B star).

I really admired the research. I liked the way the plots were woven together. The writing was smooth. Some of the characters and their interactions are satisfyingly complex.

Most musical styles owe
Aug 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Definitely a summer 'beach read'. Quick, a bit sensational, with touches of fame and sex, grounded by a historical story about Scott Joplin ---

and, whoa, talking to people while reading this book I found out lots of otherwise intelligent informed people had no idea who Joplin was. I'm not musical and my public school education wasn't the greatest, but I thought he was a standard figure of American history classes like Betsey Ross, Harriet Tubman and John Philip Sousa.

--This is a ghost story in t
I chose Joplin's Ghost for my science fiction/fantasy book discussion group because the theme of summer reading is Read to the Rhythm. It was nice to read fantasy about and by a person of color.

I didn't know much about Scott Joplin and enjoyed learning more about him. I could easily imagine him having a restless spirit after the life he lived. The chapters about his life seemed well researched. I also enjoyed the depiction of the African American music scene of today (the book was published in 2
Tracey Y Smith
Sep 07, 2008 rated it liked it
I think this was an ambitious undertaking to link the spirit of Scott Joplin and his unfulfilled dreams to a young, 21st century R&B singer. I love reading about history so I loved the way the story moves from Joplin's time to current day. But overall, I did not understand it. One of my bookclub members had to explain certain parts to me. There is a scene where the main character is making love to her boyfriend and somehow Joplin's ghost gets involved in this encounter. That was too confusin ...more
Deborah Replogle
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
An historical novel, slightly on the side of the paranormal, about Scott Joplin of whom, Due states: "a story about a turn-of-the-century artist whose genius went largely unrecognized in an era of intense racism." She interweaves his story with that of a contemporary artist who is afraid of her own creativity. The ghost in the story is that of Joplin, and the physical link between the two is his piano. Imaginative and well-written story. This was the first novel I've read by Due, and plan on rea ...more
Dec 20, 2009 rated it liked it
The best thing about this book was learning about Scott Joplin, of course I am assuming that much of this is based upon actual research. I thought it was a slow read. I was a little disappointed but I love Tananarive Due.
Bumping this up to 3.5 stars after doing a little research on Scott Joplin. Love the historical fiction aspect of this book and have purchased Rifkin's tribute album to Joplin.

I was absolutely spell bound by this story until the end, which left me feeling disappointed.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it

Great book, but a little lengthy. Good character development. Really enjoyed the relationship between Phoenix and Carlos, as well as the one with her father.
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Loved it. I listened to the audio of the book.
Safa Brown
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it
'Joplin's Ghost' by Tananarive Due is an modern ghost story that is 200 pages too long. The ending and beginning were interesting but the middle was too long.
Jan 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
She has the nack for rumbling in her books, that is the reason for the 4 stars. But I really enjoy her books.
Oct 24, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes a good contemprary ghost story
Recommended to Maryl by: Found it on the shelf at the library
I am still reading this book but have learned a lot about the life of Scott Joplin and would like to read a non fiction book about him.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
It's been years since I read a novel by Tananarive Due. However, I distinctly remember enjoying her writing style especially as she usually write historical fiction, a union of two of my great loves. As well, she mixes in a bit of mysticism which is fine with me. Joplin's Ghost started off very well. I enjoyed learning more about him while getting peek into the life of a modern day rising star. She usually includes a strong dose of family in the characters which I also enjoy. Who can't relate to ...more
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, fantasy, horror
I've enjoyed Due's novels so far, but I wasn't expecting to read Joplin's Ghost so soon. I've been working my way through her African Immortals series, but when I started the fourth book, it felt like the characters in the beginning were supposed to be familiar, even though I hadn't met them before. Then, near the end of the prologue, there was a mention of Scott Joplin, and I realized that Due was pulling two of her stories together for this book. Since I like reading these things in order, I f ...more
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scary
I loved this book. I loved the 2 stories that were interwoven together. And I loved that this was based on a real musician (go listen to Maple Leaf Rag if you haven't already). I though Tananarive Due did a wonderful job creating a story based around real events in the past and then tying them to the events of the current time. It was eerie, it was sad, it was hopeful. Perfect story for the first book of 2018!
Bri Little
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Engaging, thrilling, and surreal. Ms. Due once again takes readers on a ride with her delightful prose in this blast from the past. I usually don't enjoy historical fiction, but I was intrigued by Scott Joplin's adventures and how they mingled with Phoenix's present. Would definitely recommend to people who enjoy speculative fiction and are looking to diversify their reading list.
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Shelf Addiction B...: August 2012 - Joplin's Ghost, Week 2 1 6 Aug 15, 2012 01:01PM  
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Tananarive Due is a novelist and a creative writing teacher who has worked as a journalist. She won the American Book Award in 2002 for her novel The Living Blood.
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