Most days he woke up, his body twisted with the kind of ache that
made him suck his back teeth before sitting up in the dark. But
nothing hurt today, not even the distorted muscles in his back,
and so it was already shaping up to be a fine day. Even with a heaving
sea, a day fine and blue. Dirty blond whisk-ers haunted his face
as he gunned his boat to cruising speed, smacking against the
chop with a steady thud, past a rocky outcrop and out of the harbor.
Past the first green can, Little Island on the right, past Sawyer
Fernald’s strings and up beyond the ledge with four runty spruce
“Stephens gives the reader an unvarnished view of the subculture of lobster fishermen in small-town coastal Maine.”
—James Acheson, author of The Lobster Gangs of Maine
The haunting story of Jamie Eugley, a young lobsterman struggling with the grinding responsibilities of a head-injured fiancé and mounting trap wars, The Ghost Trap is a modern tale with an old-fashioned hero who puts family and heritage before self. In the end it’s not just about lobstering, but about one man’s sorrow for not appreciating the love he had, however damages. Written with sensitivity and rich description, this is a piercingly accurate depiction of life in a small Maine lobstering community.
Publishers Weekly “In her impressive debut novel, Stephens offers a rugged and tender tale. Jamie Eugley, a ninth-generation lobsterman in the port village of Owls Head, has cared for his brain-injured girlfriend, Anja, for three long years…Jamie suffers deep guilt over her near-drowning accident while aboard his lobster boat and her subsequent debilitating coma. … Meanwhile, he deals with a dangerous and violent trap war among the lobstermen... The bawdy humor, snappy dialogue, colorful local sea myths and rich lobstering details add to the immense appeal of this textured narrative about a superstitious but independent lobsterman's inward and outward struggles.”
"Sorrowful tale set against backdrop of Maine lobstering community. Compelling...Stephens’ characters are well drawn and the dialogue is sharp and often humorous. But ultimately the story is about Eugley, an old-fashioned hero who puts family and heritage before self."
The Working Waterfront
"...A ghost trap, unseen, becomes lost and then forgotten. That image is a central motif in th enew novel of that name by Midcoast writer K. Stephens. Her knowledge of the area where the story takes place is evident. But Stephens' acumen is also demonstrated in other details, like describing a character's cognitive disabilities and, most outstandingly, with her superb limning of lobstering. Without sounding pedantic, exploitative, or condescending, she offers the reader a lot to think about, and provides a lot of information in an unobtrusive way. ... With the events of this past summer -- a lobsterman shot and seriously injured..., three lobster boats maliciously sunk -- Stephens' story is a timely one, offering insight into what's been described as an invisible war, part of the subculture of lobstering. In The Ghost Trap, it's a world that feels pretty bleak, full of hard choices and life's hard knocks. Stephens doesn't offer us any moralistic lessons from superhuman superheroes here. It seems her story is really about people who become ghost traps; how a person could feel cast off, disconnected, useless, forgotten. She offers a number of characters who might be understood as experiencing that kind of limbo. Could some of them be restored to a meaningful life, rehabilitated, given a second chance?"
Bangor Daily News
The Ghost Trap Will Capture You
by George A. Smith, former executive director, Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine
"The Ghost Trap is a compelling novel, propelling you along through the deep water, on board Jamie Eugley’s lobster boat of a life, anchored to a brain-damaged girlfriend who nearly died after being swept off the boat and ever-after becomes his burden, with a lobstering father who hates him, a daily life full of beer, boasts, bragging and battles, and friends who seem – well, not so friendly.
Then there is the enemy, family name of Fogerty, better known as the “Drunk Fogertys.” And a newby from away who tries to buy his way into the closed close-knit lobstering culture, by hook and by crook.
I ate up every bit of it, and wished K. Stephens had written a lot more than 326 pages. The author, Kay Stephens, uses her initial on this book to distinguish it from her next nonfiction book. I don’t know what that book is all about, but I can tell you right now I will read it. Kay is a powerful writer with a lot to say.
“Most days he woke up, his body twisted with the kind of ache that made him suck his back teeth before sitting up in the dark.” That’s the first sentence. I could feel that ache. And the darkness beyond.
From trap wars to human tragedies, this is life at it’s grittiest – or it’s best, depending on whether you think lobstering is the best or worst of all possible jobs and life in a small coastal fishing village is paradise or hell on earth. Truthfully, it’s a bit of both.
This novel, published in 2009 by Leapfrog Press LLC, is a sensitive, richly descriptive, haunting story, and it rings true.
On her website, Kay describes herself this way: “I’m a freelance writer with more than 16 years of experience in writing promotional materials for Maine businesses. My niche is the creative economy, artists and entertainers and hospitality venues. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it that makes your business memorable.”
All I can tell you is: she can write, and this is one very memorable novel."
"Stephens has a wonderful clear eye for people, especially Maine people, and she populates "The Ghost Trap" with dozens from all walks of Maine life, especially life on the water. The question here is "Where did those buoys come from?" The answer is gradual, clue by clue, and so surprising that I was yelling at my copy of the book, trying to warn the characters, who had become my friends. Buy this one for your Maine vacation, and stay away from my lobster traps!" --Bill Roorbach, author of Temple Stream, Big Bend and Writing Life Stories
"Stephens nails harbor life down to the unwritten rules and defense of imaginary territory lines. As a lobsterman, I found myself pulled in by characters who remind me of people I live and work with every day. Peppered with dark humor and brutal honesty, The Ghost Trap gives it to you straight, the way life should be." —Ryan Post, 4th generation Maine lobsterman, creator of Mainebuggin.com
"If it's a salty, tangy read you're looking for, Stephens plunges you into the back-breaking, heart-breaking life of one young lobsterman. You can almost taste the blood, sweat and tomalley." —Richard Grant, author, Tex and Molly In The Afterlife, In The Land of Winter, Kaspian Lost and Another Green World
“In The Ghost Trap, K. Stephens creates characters and a setting that reflect a real, raw piece of Maine. With Anja and Jamie, she introduces us to characters whose stories and situations are heartbreaking. This book reminds us that as complicated as lobster fishing might be, human relationships are always more fraught with difficulty.” —Deirdre Fulton, staff writer, Portland Phoenix
K. Stephens is a Maine arts and entertainment writer who has written about schooners, food and wine, teenagers, and the creative economy. Most lobstermen she knows are only too happy to share a crazy story after a beer or three.
TRIM: 6 x 9
PRICE: $15.95 / Paperback Original
Pub Date: September 2009