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In life, not every sin goes unpunished. GHOST STORY For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder.


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In life, not every sin goes unpunished. GHOST STORY For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder.

30 review for Ghost Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

    I don't think one can truly rate Ghost Story as a novel without acknowledging the fact that it's a literary homage to the classics of the genre. Indeed, two characters bear the surnames of Hawthorne and James. This is my introduction to the work of Peter Straub. Having read The Talisman and Black House which he co-authored with Stephen King I was anxious to know how he writes on his own, and Ghost Story came recommended by virtually everyone who has read it. As mentioned in the first paragraph, G I don't think one can truly rate Ghost Story as a novel without acknowledging the fact that it's a literary homage to the classics of the genre. Indeed, two characters bear the surnames of Hawthorne and James. This is my introduction to the work of Peter Straub. Having read The Talisman and Black House which he co-authored with Stephen King I was anxious to know how he writes on his own, and Ghost Story came recommended by virtually everyone who has read it. As mentioned in the first paragraph, Ghost Story is a homage to the old masters who paved the road of fright for future generations. Peter Straub himself says that "[Ghost Story] started as a result of my having just read all the American supernatural fiction I could find". It is noticeable; the first part is largely a reworking of The Turn of The Screw. The theme of a story within a story is everpresent, as the work deals with a group of old men who tell themselves ghost stories on regular meetings. Shades of Lovecraft, Poe and Hawthorne brood in the corners of the rooms they sit in. The men find themselves terrorized by terrible, realistic nightmares. Terrible things start happening in the small, sleepy town of Millburn. They remember the crime they had committed years before...and wonder if the time of retribution has finally arrived. What's not to like? Several things. first of all, the pace: the book is monstrous slog. A chore to get through. Straub switches between several narrative viewpoints (much like Stoker in Dracula) and the plot plods frequently and slows down so much that reading soon becomes a challenge. There's no doubt that Straub is a great writer - some of his passages I've read several times, because I simply enjoyed them so much - but he becomes lost in what he tries to do, the references he includes so subtly vanish in the detail he describes so voraciously. The protagonists discuss ghost stories they tell to each other, but for some reason refuse to talk about the one they all share even when darkness has fallen upon their city. Instead of trying to scheme how to fight or at least delay the danger, they remain passive. No one fights back. No one things of moving away and running from the deadly force. The passivity, the stupidness of their actions drastically slows down the plot and kills any tension that might have emerged. It would be understandable if the novel featured only one protagonist who witnessed these events and who would be afraid to entrust his story to others (in fear of being considered insane) - but Ghost Story features a group of men who believe each other, and do nothing. The theme of a town besieged by malevolent forces or beings has been done previously, most notably by Peter Straub's fellow writer and friend Stephen King in Salem's Lot. Straub acknowledges the influcence: "I wanted to work on a large canvas. 'Salem's Lot showed me how to do this without getting lost among a lot of minor characters. Besides the large canvas, I also wanted a certain largeness of effect." However, while Salem's Lot was swift, fast-paced and competent in dealing with the theme, Ghost Story doesn't quite deliver. The town of Millburn is described as a small town, but it completely lacks any awareness and interaction. The characters seem to be detached from reality - everyone walks everywhere, and there's little mention of pop culture - music, television and such. The novel is supposed to take time in the 1970s, but for all we are shown it might just as well be the 1870s. Last, the Evil with a capital E. While the concept of the Evil is really interesting, the Evil is really inconsistent and incompetent. There's no sense of looming presence of Evil, ready to fall upon the heads of innocent people and end their lives at any moment, like in Salem's Lot or Phantoms. Evil seems to be employed when it is needed by the narrative, and then pushed back, only to be called again later. I don't want to spoil anything, but the nature of the Evil and it's actions don't follow any pattern of logic and reason. Evil is at times omniscient and capable of incredible power, only to have its abilities reduced to humanlike status, and then go back to the supernatural and all-powerful again. Evil capable of everything is boring - why, it'd take a snap of fingers to eliminate a human being, much like a child breaking a twig in two - but one might wonder why the author chose to grant his menace that priviledge, only to take it back...and then allow it to be all poweful again, several times. Overall, I'm sad to say that Ghost Story doesn't live up to the hype that surrrounds it. While it is a complex, multilayered work, a homage to the creators of the genre, It's not very compelling and in fact is pretty easy to put down and leave unfinished. The concept, the idea of the novel - the premise, the prose, the situations - everything works, but not as a whole. I think I like the idea of the book better than the book itself - Peter Straub tends to be meandering and repetitive. There are sections of Ghost Story that are narrated brilliantly, but there are sections that are stale and uninteresting. For each flash of suspense and atmosphere, there's a whole lot of mundane and ordinary. The idea of the novel deserves five stars, but I can't give the novel itself more than three - I liked it, but I liked analysing the text more than reading it. Nevertheless, Peter Straub is an ambitious writer who's much more "literary" than most horror authors - his prose and style easily rivals the so-called "serious" writers - and I most certainly will read his other novels.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    BAIT AND SWITCH. "Peter Straub's classic bestseller is a work of "superb horror" (The Washington Post Book World) that, like any good ghost story, stands the test of time -- and conjures our darkest fears and nightmares." Oh, this book was conjuring my worst fears alright... Just not in the way that was probably intended. I'm quitting you, book. You know why? Because you're fucking boring. Because I dread picking you back up. Because you're not in the least bit scary to me, if you don't count BAIT AND SWITCH. "Peter Straub's classic bestseller is a work of "superb horror" (The Washington Post Book World) that, like any good ghost story, stands the test of time -- and conjures our darkest fears and nightmares." Oh, this book was conjuring my worst fears alright... Just not in the way that was probably intended. I'm quitting you, book. You know why? Because you're fucking boring. Because I dread picking you back up. Because you're not in the least bit scary to me, if you don't count the horror and dread I have of actually contemplating trudging along to the finish line with you. By all accounts, the second half is where all the awesome happens. I just bet. I slogged along to almost the halfway point, through weirdness and references-I-feel-like-I-should-know-but-don't-because-they-haven't-been-explained-yet and tedious-tedious-irrelevant-detail and 260+ pages of nothing-has-actually-happenened-yet-except-for-some-boring-old-farts-dying...OH-THE-HORROR! and now I'm done. I've given almost an entire month to this book. The only thing it's given me back was confirmation that Straub's books just aren't for me. Shame.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    A few words i found by Stephen King about this novel "Probably Ghost Story by Peter Straub is the best of the supernatural novels to be published in the wake of the three books that kicked off a new horror "wave" in the seventies—those three, of course, being Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, and The Other. The fact that these three books, all published within five years of each other, enjoyed such wide popularity, helped to convince (or reconvince) publishers that horror fiction had a commercial p A few words i found by Stephen King about this novel "Probably Ghost Story by Peter Straub is the best of the supernatural novels to be published in the wake of the three books that kicked off a new horror "wave" in the seventies—those three, of course, being Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, and The Other. The fact that these three books, all published within five years of each other, enjoyed such wide popularity, helped to convince (or reconvince) publishers that horror fiction had a commercial potential much wider than the readership of such defunct magazines as Weird Tales and Unknown or the paperback reissues of Arkham House books.* ” This was a real haunting good read, the story drives you crazy in places with characters perceptions of reality being played with by the supernatural.This is my first Straub novel and he writes a plot well and makes you feel you are there amidst the snow filled town slowly falling apart day by day.The story paces well and does not let down, the tale was reminiscent of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. The review is @ more2read also with a video2watch interview with Peter Straub.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dirk Grobbelaar

    An intelligent and ambitious novel, Ghost Story has received some well deserved acclaim. That is, however, not enough. Not even close. This is a book that should be re-introduced to a whole new generation of readers. It really is that good. Stephen King himself lists it as one of the best horror novels of the 20th century (refer Danse Macabre). I will not go into plot details at this stage, since these can be had by reading the book synopsis. Instead, in general terms, I'll try and explain just w An intelligent and ambitious novel, Ghost Story has received some well deserved acclaim. That is, however, not enough. Not even close. This is a book that should be re-introduced to a whole new generation of readers. It really is that good. Stephen King himself lists it as one of the best horror novels of the 20th century (refer Danse Macabre). I will not go into plot details at this stage, since these can be had by reading the book synopsis. Instead, in general terms, I'll try and explain just why this book should be on the reading list of any self respecting horror fan. First of all, this is not a novel that offers up cheap thrills and quick scares. The terror, sometimes expected, often unexpected, is measured out in precise and exact quantities. Lovingly so. Mister Straub has managed to weave into Ghost Story an absolutely breathless sense of inevitability and futility. It still remains one of the most atmospheric dark tales I’ve read. Secondly, it is a pretty complicated story: dense and epic. It’s a story about terrible things that happen to people and the secret lives people lead. The cast is also fairly big. Think you know what's going on around here? Think again. Lastly, Peter Straub is arguably one of the best wordsmiths out there. He can write. Comparisons with Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot' are inevitable: the small town setting; the terror that comes to town. I read the two novels almost back to back and will be hard pressed to pick a personal favourite, although the “antagonist” in Straub’s book is much more complicated. In both novels, a great amount of time is spent on creating breathing, flesh and blood, characters. This, of course, makes the terror more palpable when it comes. And does it come! Often subtle, the Horror element takes on interesting shapes in Mister Straub's capable hands. Things aren't quite what they seem, and isn't it marvellous? Looking for a thrilling read that will ever so slowly freeze your blood without attempting to shock with gratuitous gore and schlock tactics? Then line up, Dr Rabbitfoot has your medicine right here!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Char

    I am SO glad that I finally re-read this book! I was afraid that it wouldn't hold up to my memory of it. I worried about that for decades. Silly me-I needn't have worried-it was even better than I remembered! This beautifully written story of evil in a small town has a lot in common with Stephen King's IT as far as the small town portion goes. Derry and Milburn are similar in a lot of ways. Despite the title, this book isn't really a ghost story. Just like in IT, IT isn't really a clown. Ghost S I am SO glad that I finally re-read this book! I was afraid that it wouldn't hold up to my memory of it. I worried about that for decades. Silly me-I needn't have worried-it was even better than I remembered! This beautifully written story of evil in a small town has a lot in common with Stephen King's IT as far as the small town portion goes. Derry and Milburn are similar in a lot of ways. Despite the title, this book isn't really a ghost story. Just like in IT, IT isn't really a clown. Ghost Story is about a small group of men who made a mistake in their youth and rather than face up to it, they went about hiding it instead. This leads to consequences none of them could have possibly foreseen. But WE can see those consequences, and unfortunately, they are often deadly. GHOST STORY was my favorite novel for many years-mostly because of the intricacy of it. The stories of these men, the stories about the relatives of these men, and the stories about the town itself, wind around and through each other-to me it's like a beautifully woven tapestry of art. I have to think that the author had it all planned out from the very beginning, otherwise how could it have been so wonderfully done? This book isn't for everyone, and I get that. (It wasn't even for me at one time, it took me three tries to get into it back in the day.) For those people that it DOES work for? They will sit back when they're done, just like I did, and marvel at the skill on display here. My highest recommendation! *I've purchased this book 3 times so far, (my original copy was lost), then I bought a paperback copy, but the print was too small, so I purchased a Kindle copy. I'd buy it again, if I had to!*

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    "What was the worst thing you've ever done? I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me.....the most dreadful thing." That's how Peter Straub's GHOST STORY begins.....Something's going to happen to the whole town of Milburn, and The Chowder Society members with their spooky stories and premonitions are right in the middle of "it"........For Ricky Hawthorne, his law partner Sears James and friends Edward Wanderley, Lewis Benedikt and Dr. John Jaffrey, their n "What was the worst thing you've ever done? I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me.....the most dreadful thing." That's how Peter Straub's GHOST STORY begins.....Something's going to happen to the whole town of Milburn, and The Chowder Society members with their spooky stories and premonitions are right in the middle of "it"........For Ricky Hawthorne, his law partner Sears James and friends Edward Wanderley, Lewis Benedikt and Dr. John Jaffrey, their nightmares all began on the same day, October of 1929....and what happened on that day was the beginning of the evil presence........Not the scariest book I've ever read, (we all have our own definition of scary) but a darn good GHOST STORY!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Probably the scariest book I ever read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Edward Lorn

    First and foremost, I would like to thank Jessica (Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile) for this awesome addition to my collection. Back in 1995, my family and my fifteen-year-old self moved from California to Alabama. The week we arrived in Alabama (Mobile area) Hurricane Opal decided to make landfall. Most of our stuff was still on the back of my brother-in-law's flatbed trailer. The most important items lost (for me, at least) was my mother's book collection. Whilst in California, Mom called h First and foremost, I would like to thank Jessica (Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile) for this awesome addition to my collection. Back in 1995, my family and my fifteen-year-old self moved from California to Alabama. The week we arrived in Alabama (Mobile area) Hurricane Opal decided to make landfall. Most of our stuff was still on the back of my brother-in-law's flatbed trailer. The most important items lost (for me, at least) was my mother's book collection. Whilst in California, Mom called her master bedroom's walk-in The Great Book Closet. This grand space was stocked with more than 450 first editions of some of the best horror literature ever written. These books were gifts from friends, family, and co-workers, but mostly they came from one person in particular—my mother's best friend Andrita. Sadly, all the books Andrita ever bought my mother were lost to water damage. Not only was my mother 2,000 miles away from her lifelong friend but she'd also lost most of the collection Andrita helped her build. 22 books survived, but Ghost Story was not one of them. Freakishly enough, I would lose those final 22 books another 9 years later when Hurricane Ivan came through Montgomery, Alabama and flooded my storage shed. To date, I have replaced all 450 books (my mother kept record of all her gifts and purchases, and I've been working off the contents in her ledger for the past ten years) aside from three. With Jessica's gift, I only need to replace two more. Thank you so much, Jessica. So there's your E. History Lesson of the Day. After receiving Jessica's gift, I decided to reread Ghost Story so that I might give it a proper review. Here is that review: For this reread I chose the audiobook narrated by Buck Schirner. All too often, literary horror is read in a cheesy, over-the-top fashion. These narrators seemingly want to be Vincent Price, but only Price could pull of Price without sounding like a bit of rejected B-movie voiceover. Buck Schirner is damn good at what he does. His performance is highly recommended. If you dig earhole stimuli, stimulate your earholes with this audiobook. Now for the book itself. Ghost Story is one of the greatest literary horror novels ever written. The prose is gorgeous and the writing flows. The characters are varied and exquisitely drawn, believable and nearly tangible. The horror is achieved through mounting dread and rarely relies on gore to disturb, leaning more toward creatures with twinkling yellow eyes slowly climbing the stairs toward their victims, or a creepy child staring through a window. I’ve always found subtle horror far scarier than violence and gore. Moreover, it’s what I don’t see that truly frightens me, as my imagination is more terrifying than anything another author could imagine. This is the essence of Ghost Story. This is where the novel succeeds the most. The subject matter is insidious. It burrows. Digs. Nests. I will admit, however, that Ghost Story is a chore to get into. It’s the epitome of a slow burn. You will be tempted to put the book down, but I beg of you, push through the tedious opening chapters. Everything makes pays off by the end, and every word is needed. I don’t know many horror novels of this length of which the same can be said. In summation: Ghost Story is a novel better read if you know nothing about it. It’s a bit of terror that worms into you and takes roots. One of the truly nightmare-inducing additions to horror literature. If you’re a fan of the genre, do yourself a favor and read this book. Tell Gregory Bates that E. sent ya. Final Judgment: Best read while snowed in.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    This copy of "Ghost Story" is signed by Peter Straub. This copy of "Ghost Story" is signed by Peter Straub.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    When I was a kid, I had a long list of fears. A short summary would include: tornadoes; big dogs; bullies; the basement; fire; music class; swimming lessons; spiders; cat burglars; and girls. As I got a bit older, say around middle school and high school, that list changed. Some items remained (girls, the possibility of being forced to sing in public), some fell away (tornadoes, big dogs, swimming), and some new fears were added (school dances, acne, various other complex social interactions). N When I was a kid, I had a long list of fears. A short summary would include: tornadoes; big dogs; bullies; the basement; fire; music class; swimming lessons; spiders; cat burglars; and girls. As I got a bit older, say around middle school and high school, that list changed. Some items remained (girls, the possibility of being forced to sing in public), some fell away (tornadoes, big dogs, swimming), and some new fears were added (school dances, acne, various other complex social interactions). Now, as an adult, the list has changed entirely. I don’t fear the weather, or the water, or women (though I still do not understand them). And I’m not afraid of the many, many things that the local and national news tells us to fear. I’m not scared of airplane crashes, murderers, or terrorist attacks. This is not because I am brave, which I am certainly not, or because I am idiot, which is debatable; rather, my limited understanding of probabilities allows me to rest assured that I am far likelier to die in a car crash because I am texting, than I am to plummet earthward in a Boeing 747, and that the mounting nights of pizza and hard drinking are more lethal to my person than a sociopathic killer just escaped from the county asylum on a dark and stormy night. The simple fact is that for most of us, all the terrorists and all the murderers and all the faultily-constructed planes in all the world are not nearly as likely to hurt us than uncontrolled cell growth within our own bodies. Sure, I get a little jittery when my plane hits turbulence; and yes, I sneak around my own house with a baseball bat every time I hear a bump in the night. But truthfully, the only thing that really scares me is cancer. That kind of fear, though, based solidly in statistical reality, is almost too much to bear. It’s impossible to live your life constantly thinking about that possibility, that probability, lingering up ahead in the future. We need distractions. So we distract ourselves with other fears. Not just terrorists, airplanes, and killers, but sex offenders and immigrants and razor-studded apples on Halloween and China’s emergence as an economic powerhouse. This is not to say that these fears are baseless (well, the fear of immigrants and China are), but we’re talking about probabilities. Can these things be dangerous? Yes. Are they statistically likely to be dangerous to you? No. These fears, though, play an important psychological role by diverting our attention. And this is not a new phenomenon. Human beings have always been scaring each other. I venture that Neanderthals in their caves would gather round the fire and swap stories about a legendary wooly mammoth with a taste for blood, even though they were more likely to die from an infection caused by scraping a knee on a rock. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story plays with this idea of spook stories. At its center are four old men – Lewis Benedikt, Sears James, Frederick Hawthorne and John Jaffrey – who have a haunted past; in order to cope with this past, they get together and tell ghost stories to each other. Scaring each other becomes cathartic. I could go on with the plot, I suppose, but one of the pleasures (or frustrations, depending on your nature) of this book is how you gain understanding gradually, as the story unfolds. For instance, the novel opens with a brief prologue in which a man we do not know has apparently kidnapped a child we do not know. These scenes won’t pay off for many hundreds of pages, and to say anything more ventures into spoiler territory. Besides, the plot is relatively dense, and if I tried to explain it, I’d probably get it wrong anyway. Suffice it to say, the thing or things that is haunting our four main characters has returned to the small town of Milburn, New York. And it didn’t come for the maple syrup festival. I’ll leave it to you to discover the rest. What I appreciated about Ghost Story was that it understood the nature of fear. Fear is that moment when you think something is about to happen; it is that part in a horror movie when the main character is about to open the closet door, and you, the viewer, start to duck your head beneath the blanket. When something finally jumps out of the closet, and the main character starts running, and you scream and spill popcorn, that’s not fear. That is the release of tension. The reason I always liked the first Friday the 13th film is because it recognized this distinction. The whole movie was people being watched and stalked by something faceless and nameless and left to our imaginations. There is very little running through the woods, which is good, because chase scenes aren’t scary. In the 7,000 sequels that followed, the distinction was lost; the killer was known, was given shape and form, and all that was left was to run. The most elegant metaphor I can think of to explain this is lovemaking. Please, bear with me. A good ghost story (like Ghost Story) is like that Spanish or Italian lover with the sensitive eyes and velvety voice, the one who drank wine from your navel and has nothing but time to devote to all manner of foreplay. This Spanish or Italian will taunt and tickle and tease and sing you a lilting love-song in Spanish or Italian that you can’t understand before finally bringing you to that place you want to go. A bad ghost story is like a drunk high-school student pawing at you in the backseat of a Honda Civic, concerned only with the end-release. Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say the “most elegant” metaphor? Because I meant to say crass and vaguely disturbing. Ghost Story takes its time reaching the climax, and this is a good thing. As long as things are still a bit unclear, as long as you can’t quite see around the next corner, the novel retains tension. I’m not saying it will scare you. It won’t make you scream aloud, for the simple reason that, unlike a movie, you can look away at any time and stop the action. However, there are parts that will give you the creeps; and there will be parts where your eyes will try to cheat by skipping ahead; and there is a chance, if you read this before bed and take a slug of Nyquill, you will have odd nightmares. What I liked about Ghost Story, other than the fact it was like a Spanish or Italian lover, is that it made a real attempt to stay grounded in reality. Obviously, when you are dealing with ghosts, there is a paranormal or supernatural element involved. The more things tilt towards those elements, the less scared I become, for the simple fact that I can no longer relate to the world being described. To that end, Peter Straub makes an enormous effort to give his characters backgrounds and back-stories and meaningful traits. He grounds the most fantastical elements by devoting equal time to the human element. I’m not saying that he achieves supreme psychological depth with each person, but he certainly surmounts the confines of his genre (and goes far beyond you might expect in a book titled Ghost Story). One of my favorite aspects of Ghost Story is its sense of place. Straub spends a lot of time making the hamlet of Milburn into a character. You get to know its layout, its history, its local hangouts, and you meet dozens and dozens of its denizens. Indeed, you meet so many, you might want to keep a list (this will come in handy when attempting to recall who is sleeping with who, and who just died). Ghost Story is horror with a literary bent. Sure, there are some lines of dialogue that land with all the grace of me dropping War and Peace on my toe. But that’s to be expected. For the most part, the level of the writing defies the primitiveness of its subject. You see this not only in the care taken with the characters (both main and supporting), but with the story’s complex structure, which involves numerous flashbacks and stories-within-stories. Of course, as with any ghost story, there has to be a “Boo!” moment. At some point, the mysteries start to resolve themselves, the enemy takes shape, and our heroes must find a way to kill it. I’ll admit, my attention started to wane towards the end, once the explanatory dialogue started flying (and there is a lot of explaining to do). Eventually, there is a final battle between good and evil, human and not-human, and it is suitably over-the-top and gory, for those that expect that sort of thing, and when the dust settles all the puzzle pieces come together to form a whole. It satisfies, I suppose, but is not nearly as interesting as the long, detailed, creepy road that led to that point.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    “SF/F/H”, the holy trinity of genre fiction, my neck of the woods for reading. I read a hell of a lot of sci-fi (SF), I read about a couple of fantasy (F) titles a year, but I've been neglecting the horror fiction (H) genre in recent years. The reason is that besides Stephen King I don't tend to hear much about exciting new horror titles. Sci-fi and fantasy books win the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards and I am always aware of the winners. As far as I know the equivalent award for horror fict “SF/F/H”, the holy trinity of genre fiction, my neck of the woods for reading. I read a hell of a lot of sci-fi (SF), I read about a couple of fantasy (F) titles a year, but I've been neglecting the horror fiction (H) genre in recent years. The reason is that besides Stephen King I don't tend to hear much about exciting new horror titles. Sci-fi and fantasy books win the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards and I am always aware of the winners. As far as I know the equivalent award for horror fiction is the Stoker Award and somehow people don’t seem to talk about them very much. Anyway, to cut a long story short I miss reading horror fiction and want to get back to it. Ghost Story is Peter Straub’s best known and most popular book, I remember reading it in my teens when it was on the bestsellers list, I remember liking it but for the life of me cannot remember any of the details. Having just reread it this is not so surprising as this is quite a complex story and the title is somewhat misleading. The book is divided into several parts with a nonlinear timeline. It starts off intriguingly with a 24 pages prologue about a man who has kidnapped a strange little girl, but the kidnapper is more afraid of the kidnappee than the other way around. The girl seems to take it all in stride and may, in fact, not be a girl at all. After this prologue the story goes back to a few years earlier where a group of for elderly gentlemen meet on a regular basis to share ghost stories which may or may not be true. They call themselves “The Chowder Society”, apparently there is some kind of therapeutic value for them in telling these stories; there has been an undertone of fear in this little club since one of their members died under mysterious circumstances at a party while in the company of an actress who disappeared. The next part of the book tells the story of Donald Wanderley, the child kidnapper from the prologue. He is a nephew of the dead club member of the Chowder Society and an author of a horror novel. After publication of his book he took a temporary job teaching at Berkeley, there he meets and falls madly in love with a mysterious beautiful girl. They get on famously, make wedding plans and one day she just disappears; next thing he knows she meets his brother David in another town, they fall in love and soon David dies under mysterious circumstances. The girl disappears again. Ghost Story is not a whodunit, but it is not really about ghosts (though a few do show up). The story is quite a complex but not at all hard to follow. A creepy atmosphere pervades the entire book and the reader what is going on with the disappearing girls and the dead people they leave behind. It is meticulously written by Straub. The supernatural element often has a hallucinogenic feel to it and the climax is quite rousing. The characters are well drawn but not particularly memorable. I find that Straub’s storytelling is not as taut as it could be and the pacing drags a little in the earlier parts of the book; too many scenes of the old gents pottering around grumbling. His brand of horror is subtle and often psychological, there is very little in the gore department. If you are looking for an elegantly written, unusual and complex horror story this is for you, but how many people are looking for such a thing? If you are reading this in October this would be a great Haloween read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Gail

    Boredom, thy name is Ghost Story. I would rather de-spider my attic and/or drink straight pickle juice than force myself through one more chapter. Boredom, thy name is Ghost Story. I would rather de-spider my attic and/or drink straight pickle juice than force myself through one more chapter.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    Not a Straub fan, but this is a good book. One of the better "ghost stories" out there (in spite of the fact that it's not exactly a story about a ghost per-se). This is actually one of the "scariest" books I've read so far as atmosphere and actual emotional scare goes. The villains of the piece are while not exactly "new" used in a different way than you'll see elsewhere. It might be said that the book rests on the simple idea that one reaps what one sows...though that is a huge over simplificat Not a Straub fan, but this is a good book. One of the better "ghost stories" out there (in spite of the fact that it's not exactly a story about a ghost per-se). This is actually one of the "scariest" books I've read so far as atmosphere and actual emotional scare goes. The villains of the piece are while not exactly "new" used in a different way than you'll see elsewhere. It might be said that the book rests on the simple idea that one reaps what one sows...though that is a huge over simplification and doesn't give any inkling as to the amount of sleep you may lose...or how much your electric bill may go up from leaving the lights on all night. One caveat, don't be put off by the opening scenes in this book (some would be and some wouldn't). They could lead one to believe it's a totally different kind of book than it is... I myself almost put it down getting the wrong impression from the way it opened. If you like horror, I'd say try it. This is a genuinely scary book. *UPDATE* I just re-read this and thought I'd say a bit more about it. The general idea behind this book is one that has been dealt with by many writers (King among others, I mention him as he's worked with Straub). (view spoiler)[ The novel works it's way to the general idea that there is another "race" or "species" of beings that have lived along side humans forever. They regard us variously as food or amusement. These beings are the source of all the legends, vampires, werewolves...everything that goes "bump in the night", everything that wants to eat "us". (hide spoiler)] Here the protagonists are not really, "bad guys" but people who are human, people who have pasts. In the case of The Chowder Society a very BIG past. The thing is that they like other humans who have come in contact with (view spoiler)[ the above mentioned beings our protagonists have been led into self-destructive, even evil acts. These mark them. However in this case things didn't actually go in the way the..."others"...planned. They (our protagonists, the Chowder Society) managed to "harm" or "hurt" the creature. THEY (the "other beings") don't forget such things. (hide spoiler)] I read this a long time ago and remembered I liked it. What I didn't recall was how well the book does what it does. It's a long book and told from multiple points of view (even changing from third person to first person) yet never flags, never drops the interest. After I read this book I went right out and grabbed another Straub book...it just didn't grab me like this one did (in spite of the fact it won an award and other readers do love it). This book made my "favorites" and I wanted to take a few seconds to recommend it...again. Probably more I could say but why? Just read the book and cut out the middleman. Enjoy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    ”What was the worst thing you've ever done? I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me...the most dreadful thing...” And by those words The Chowder Society, a group of five diverse, old friends, changes its weekly meetings from the commonplace, which could be called fun, to dark and somber. After all, one of them has died, nearly one year to the day, with a facial expression frozen in terror. They are four now. Closer? Yes, possibly. But they are shaken. Nig ”What was the worst thing you've ever done? I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me...the most dreadful thing...” And by those words The Chowder Society, a group of five diverse, old friends, changes its weekly meetings from the commonplace, which could be called fun, to dark and somber. After all, one of them has died, nearly one year to the day, with a facial expression frozen in terror. They are four now. Closer? Yes, possibly. But they are shaken. Nightmares have replaced their dreams. What haunts their sleep feels far too real. It's time to talk about the memory fifty years past. A memory that's more than somber - pushed down, buried deep, so as to remain there forever. I remembered the movie, and heard the book was different. That's true. I was a little shit, and I got my pants scared off me watching that movie. And that's about all I remember. Don't go out rent the film now. I'm guessing it's dated, and maybe not so scary at all. The book is dated too, sort of. What's cool is how the book delves further into the characters lives, including that of Eva Galli/Anna Mostyn (our ghost). By the way, Straub likes the use of multiple characters, and therefore multiple viewpoints. Not saying that's the only way he writes, but it is here. You don't get very close to any one character, before jumping to another. The story is good, so I hardly noticed that until the end when I realized I knew Don Wanderley better than Ricky. As far as scaring my pants off now? Parts of it yes, but pants still on. Maybe I'm a little callused after reading so many scary books over the years, but I also don't think this one is written in a way to do so. It has it's moments of terror. Plenty of bodies pile up. The town of Milburn takes a real beating. And you know, I think the older characters thought about sex more often than the high-schoolers. Got to say though, it's not exactly a ghost story. I can't explain further without ruining it, so I won't. All-in-all, although not close to being my favorite horror novel, this would probably be my favorite solo Straub novel . Squeaking by with 4 stars. PS. While reading, I got a much clearer picture of who wrote certain portions of Black House.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Although GRs marks this as my second read, it's actually my third. (I read this one as a teenager for the first time). One of Straub's best books, imho. Still, this is not one that promises instant gratification, or perfect closure. It's a multi-layerd novel, that leaves a lot to the imagination of the reader. Personally, I enjoy a bit of ambiguity in my horror--often what one can imagine is even more terrifying that what is put down on paper. A "classic" read in every sense of the word. Recommend Although GRs marks this as my second read, it's actually my third. (I read this one as a teenager for the first time). One of Straub's best books, imho. Still, this is not one that promises instant gratification, or perfect closure. It's a multi-layerd novel, that leaves a lot to the imagination of the reader. Personally, I enjoy a bit of ambiguity in my horror--often what one can imagine is even more terrifying that what is put down on paper. A "classic" read in every sense of the word. Recommended to fans of horror, everywhere!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bark | Ladies Of Horror Fiction

    I originally read this book back in my early 20’s, back before I obsessively reviewed everything I read, and the only thing I could remember about it was an intense feeling of boredom. I later tried to read Mystery and Julia thinking it was me and not the writing. But I couldn’t get through either of those without wishing they’d end with every page I struggled through. At that point, I put Peter Straub down for good. Or so I thought. Back in December, I decided to use my Audible credit on Ghost I originally read this book back in my early 20’s, back before I obsessively reviewed everything I read, and the only thing I could remember about it was an intense feeling of boredom. I later tried to read Mystery and Julia thinking it was me and not the writing. But I couldn’t get through either of those without wishing they’d end with every page I struggled through. At that point, I put Peter Straub down for good. Or so I thought. Back in December, I decided to use my Audible credit on Ghost Story to torture myself, it turns out. Also, my book buddies were reading it and talked me into joining them but truly I only have myself to blame for thinking I’d matured enough to enjoy it now. Haha. Jokes on me! It was just as boring the second time around. Maybe even moreso . . . It was just as tedious as I’d remembered. It was so plodding, so slow to me, that I hadn’t realized I had sleep-read the last third. I had to rewind the entire seven hours of this audio because I was left so confused at the ending (who were these people and what the hell was going on?!). SEVEN HOURS. I want them all back and the previous seven too, ffs! What is the matter with me? At any rate, once I forced myself to listen again, this time with all of my faulty listening skills, the book made a lot more sense to me but it was still not very interesting. I tried, damn how I tried, but apparently not all books are made for every reader. Someday I will learn this about myself. This book is not really a ghost story in the traditional sense. It’s about a group of elderly fellows who call themselves “The Chowder Society”. They spend nights sharing “ghost stories” with each other, smoking cigars, drinking spirits and keeping secrets as old fellows do, I suppose. I don’t really know as I’m not an old fellow. The old friends who tell the tale are most definitely haunted but they are haunted more by something that happened in their youth. Something they cannot escape, mwahaha. I don’t want to give the thing away so that’s all I’m saying about that. When the book begins one of the old fellows in the club has died and this stirs up a series of events and endless pages of tangents and memories in which the reader gets dragged along until the conclusion eventually happens. It’s easy to get lost and confused in this story so do yourself a favor and either DNF it or pay very close attention. Don’t be like me. I found some of the stories interesting and there are some disturbing and pervy bits that I found rather comical but the book just went on and on and I felt like I had been reading/listening to it for my entire life. Eventually it did come to an end though and for that I am grateful. My two friends enjoyed this book very much while all I did was complain about the old coots, their roving eyes and their cheating ways and bitch about how confused I was about the time jumps and the plethora of unnecessary characters popping in and out of the story. This may be the last time I’m invited to a buddy read again, lol. So what I’m getting at here is don’t go by my opinion because my taste is atrocious. Also, don’t sleep read your way through this because it will not make any kind of sense. Now I will leave you with my favorite quote courtesy of one of the many side characters whose name I have long since forgotten. “There’s no teaching without beating.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth McKinley

    Ghost Story was a ground-breaking classic written in 1979 that set the bar a mile high for any paranormal tale to come after it. Straub's story isn't a quick read. It's a slow burn through multiple layers that weave in and out of the story. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing. On the contrary, I loved the eerie atmosphere he created along with such detailed characters that weren't flat and one-dimensional. I've read a few negative reviews on here and the common theme is that it was too much or th Ghost Story was a ground-breaking classic written in 1979 that set the bar a mile high for any paranormal tale to come after it. Straub's story isn't a quick read. It's a slow burn through multiple layers that weave in and out of the story. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing. On the contrary, I loved the eerie atmosphere he created along with such detailed characters that weren't flat and one-dimensional. I've read a few negative reviews on here and the common theme is that it was too much or they found it boring. I feel bad for these people that they have no patience and that their short attention spans won't let such a wonderful tale slowly unfold before their very eyes. For those of you that don't want fast food horror and enjoy savoring a creepy atmospheric tale, look no further. When I say that this story is layered, I mean thick, rich multiple layers. It's set in the small, idyllic town of Milburn in rural New York. In 1979, there is no mention of chain stores or houses that all look alike in Milburn. These are mom and pop run places and every home is as unique as the residents that live in them. A group of older gentlemen that call themselves the Chowder Society meet at a different member's home every month. The rules are that they wear evening clothes, don't drink too much, and rotate through the members on who was going to tell a story for that evening. The meeting following the peculiar death of one of their members, to break the tension, a member asked "What's the worst thing you've ever done?" To which he replied, "I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me...the most dreadful thing." And so the ritual of telling ghost stories began. Unfortunately, this also brought on the nightmares that would plague the members. You see, fifty years ago they were part of a terrible accident and a young girl died and now she wants her revenge. Straub creates such a realistic setting in Milburn that you'd swear he was from NY. Oddly enough, he grew up in Wisconsin. The atmosphere and character development is what makes Ghost Story so effective. The bitter cold of the winter blizzard. The isolationism of being cut off from one another. The eerie dread that permeates through the story as you try to decipher what is real and what is imagination. So kick back in your recliner. Have a drink by your side and let Straub chill you to the bones with this tale. 5 out of 5 stars You can also follow my reviews at the following links: https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5... http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A2J1... TWITTER - @KenMcKinley5

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leo .

    Fantastic book if you like to be scared. Straub is a master of this genre. I love this book and enjoyed the film starring Alice Cridge, Fred Astaire and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.🐯👍

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steven Kent

    I lived on horror novels when I was in college--and I acquired a good collection of my favorite horror novels in hardback. When I finished school, I sold my The Shining, my The Stand, all of my horror books except one. There was one novel with which I could not part--Peter Straub's "Ghost Story." Ghost Story, set in upstate New York, unwinds brilliantly. It begins with the frigid voices of old men swapping ghostly stories, then settles back and unwinds as the demons of these old men's stories co I lived on horror novels when I was in college--and I acquired a good collection of my favorite horror novels in hardback. When I finished school, I sold my The Shining, my The Stand, all of my horror books except one. There was one novel with which I could not part--Peter Straub's "Ghost Story." Ghost Story, set in upstate New York, unwinds brilliantly. It begins with the frigid voices of old men swapping ghostly stories, then settles back and unwinds as the demons of these old men's stories come to possess the world of the present. This is a book that starts slow, wrapping itself around the reader. You, like the characters in the book, think that you can easily escape for the first hundred pages. But the narrative tightens and you soon learn that escape was always an illusion. This is a book that combines the chill of the New York winter with the arthritic helplessness of old man nightmares. It plays shamelessly with reality. The devices Straub incorporated in this book are so subtle that they had to be corrupted or ignored entirely when a movie was made based on this book. I have read this book several times now, and I firmly believe it is the The Brothers Karamazov of the horror book world. If you want to read some of the best writing that horror has to offer, read Ghost Story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    First off, let me say that this is a very good story, and it had its scary moments. But I think I have some sort of problem with Peter Straub's writing. I can't quite put my finger on it but at times it seems long winded and confusing. Where with Dan Simmons and Orson Scott Card their words just seem to effortlessly flow into my mind, I find there are times when I need to reread Straub's sentences. This doesn't happen a whole lot, mind you, but it got annoying when it did, and I was glad to fina First off, let me say that this is a very good story, and it had its scary moments. But I think I have some sort of problem with Peter Straub's writing. I can't quite put my finger on it but at times it seems long winded and confusing. Where with Dan Simmons and Orson Scott Card their words just seem to effortlessly flow into my mind, I find there are times when I need to reread Straub's sentences. This doesn't happen a whole lot, mind you, but it got annoying when it did, and I was glad to finally finish it. But hey, that's just me. I figure Straub simply doesn't "click" with me so I think it would be unfair for me to criticize this novel. I've read Shadowland (it was OK) and Mystery (found the ending terribly unsatisfying) and felt I should read this, his "best" work. As far as the story goes, I was a little disappointed that there weren't more Chowder Society ghost stories within the main story, which I was expecting. I thought the characters were well drawn, though. I very much enjoyed Ricky, Sears, Lewis and John, and would love to sit in on more Chowder Society sessions. So...overall, did I like it? Wellllll....yeah. If you like Peter Straub you will love this.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Stahl

    A Heartbreak Hipster Review I hate it when this happens. You have a great writer. You have what is allegedly his magnum opus. You have a decent movie adaptation, which, though flawed, boasts a storyline original and creepy. Having read his later thriller Koko, I'd had very high hopes with Ghost Story. But it all became apparent fairly quickly this supposed masterpiece - Stephen King calls it one of the greatest horror novels of the century or some nonsense - was really nothing more than an over-t A Heartbreak Hipster Review I hate it when this happens. You have a great writer. You have what is allegedly his magnum opus. You have a decent movie adaptation, which, though flawed, boasts a storyline original and creepy. Having read his later thriller Koko, I'd had very high hopes with Ghost Story. But it all became apparent fairly quickly this supposed masterpiece - Stephen King calls it one of the greatest horror novels of the century or some nonsense - was really nothing more than an over-the-top, overlong and overrated mess. Peter Straub's success and career has been overall quite muted. He has written several books, but only Ghost Story seems to have found a wider audience. Most readers probably know him as the fat bastard who celebrated with Mr King on The Talisman and Black House . However, this novel has enjoyed a long-standing place in what both critics and general readers deem the highest rank in horror fiction. It is fair to say this novel paved the road for his excellent follow-up Koko, and so while I almost certainly didn't love this - didn't even enjoy it for the most part - I'd still admit I respect it as decent fiction. And so I'll not be immature and rude, but hopefully clear, as to why I didn't like this as much as I felt I should have. Firstly - and this is something that plagued 'Koko' too - Straub has a very slow way of unravelling the story. Now please understand that I have a complete respect for that. I admire and appreciate those authors like King, Blatty and Crichton that, unlike less talented writers like Brown and Child (who're all action and no build-up), are comfortable with setting the cards out leisurely, providing us instead with some surprisingly interesting and well-developed characters. Straub is actually very clever in the way he fleshes out his characters, doing so to the point where they actually feel like real genuine people. I didn't like them as much as I think he wanted me to. Ricky Hawthorne is fine - nothing unlikeable about that man - but that basically sums him up, I think. He's simply "the normal guy" and the only thing that really helped me to relate to him was that I also had a bastard of a cold while reading the book. On that level I related to Ricky very deeply - I could feel that scratchy throat, that nose that felt more blocked than the L.A. overpass at three in the afternoon . But otherwise ... Sears James is a little better. But he still amounts to little more than the impatient and irritable leader of the pack. Kind of like the elderly Badger in The Wind in the Willows. Lewis Benedict was easily the most interesting. But he was also a womaniser, fucking different women on and off every week. He also sleeps with his Ricky's wife occasionally. Real top guy. And finally, Don Wanderley and Peter Barnes could just as well have been Ben Mears and Mark Petrie from Salem's Lot. I also couldn't stand Stella Hawthorne. I really thought she was a bitch and she did not deserve the reader's affection just because she suddenly decides to stop messing around with other penises and turns full cunt-mode on her current fuckboy as if her disloyalty was all his fault. Koko was very slow-moving, but that had soul man!! That had soul!!! This felt just as dead and cold as the dreary Milburn town in which it was set. Even when the story becomes more suspenseful - scenes such as Peter and Jim sneaking into Eva Galli's house - the pace is just way too drawn-out, resulting in the simple trespassing of a house being stretched into three damned chapters. But let's put the infuriating slowness aside. Let's talk about what ruins this book even more. Frankly, it's the fact that when all the long-winded build-ups finally do pay off, they all do the equivalent of a mentally-unstable cashier throwing hundreds and hundreds of notes at you, crying "You want this? Take it! Take it all!!" when all you asked was to break a fiver. Similar to Stephen Nutcase when he missteps (fucking, just take an objective look at the second half of The Shining), Straub astonished me by straying so far from the taut, realistic horrors of Koko into this ludicrous realm of time-defying shapeshifters - (not even ghosts, you ... ) that are granted the ability to reincarnate more times than I Want You to Want Me. Don't you even think about it douchebags ... The fact that this novel's monsters weren't even ghosts - like the title suggests - was irritating. The fact that they come across so silly and un-intimidating is quite a bit more offensive. Not in the I'm triggered kind of way; rather in the You have stolen my childhood, entire eco-systems are dying, HOW DARE YOU!!! sense of the word. With the exception of a few creepy moments - Sears's recount of his time as a young teacher being the most noteworthy - I never felt even slightly unnerved by what was happening in the book. The one time I actually (literally) screamed in pure fright was when I was reading it in the bath. See I was in Morocco battling food poisoning, lying naked in the warm, steamy tub when suddenly the shower poll fell from its fixture, clanged on the tiles with the curtain trailing after, and nearly gave me a heart attack. Otherwise, the book wasn't scary at all. You can only assume America's favourite Trump-basher was still coked out of his asshole when he said this was the scariest novel ever written. And, I mean, much as I love Stephen for his better works, he cannot be said to have the greatest taste in the world. I mean, he thought Mick Garris of all people could outdo one of the (actually) greatest horrors of all time, Kubrick's superior adaptation of The Shining. (Second time I've taken a dig at the book in the same review. What can I say? As a fan if King, I will never agree with his greater fanbase there). For "Slow Children" indeed ... Maybe The Exorcist is the greatest horror novel ever written. Maybe Dracula. Maybe even It if you're still afraid of cartoonish monsters. But not Ghost Story for God's sake. And before I round this off, there is still one some similarities. Were I, though, to take these "things" as ghosts, then I still have nothing but criticism for how ineptly they were handled. I prefer ghosts to be more like those in The Sixth Sense or The Changeling, or What Lies Beneath. Ghosts that are limited by their ethereal status; ghosts that perhaps are not even aware they are dead, are just spurred by an unexplainable need to wreak vengeance for whatever deed has thrown them into the inconsolable confusion of death. But these assholes know exactly what they are. And they are so confident with themselves they often choose to mock and tease their targets even though they fail almost every time they finally try to be effective. It's like, imagine if every James Bond villain came back as a ghost. You're supposed to be scaring me, sneaking up on me at the mirror and writing shit in blood. I don't give a damn about your knowledge for fine wines. Some Goodreads people have said this book carries similar traits to the likes of Stephen King. I couldn't agree with them more. This book sucks in all the ways that Salem's Lot, The Shining and Carrie sucked ... only, unlike those far superior novels, this one doesn't really have any redeeming features at all. On the whole, I can't say this is a terrible book. I had just been expecting so much more, given its exceeding reputation and the fact that Straub is a great writer, I can't help being more unforgiving than usual. It could have been awesome. Somehow, most people still think it is. I just have to say that I am not one of them, and my liking for Peter Straub has sadly diminished somewhat. I will be sending him an apology letter - and a month's free gym membership - in the morning. P.S. "Hello from 2019! Having just taken the time to re-edit this review since it actually gets way more likes than my others, I have slightly modernised the, like, one or two cultural references since the original post in 2013. Also, while I haven't read this again and have little interest in ever doing so, I did revisit Koko. Didn't like it as much as the first time. However, Lost Boy Lost Girl is, as a horror novel, a significant improvement on Straub's part. You want a good horror by this guy, I whole-heartedly recommend that".

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: Still in South Carolina, he thought that a highway patrolman was following him: the police car was twenty yards behind, keeping the same distance whatever the man did. He thought he could see the state cop speaking into his radio; immediately he cut his speed by five miles an hour and changed lanes, but the police car would not pass. He felt a deep trembling in his chest and abdomen: he visualised the police car gaining on him, turning on its siren, forcing him to the side of the road. EXCERPT: Still in South Carolina, he thought that a highway patrolman was following him: the police car was twenty yards behind, keeping the same distance whatever the man did. He thought he could see the state cop speaking into his radio; immediately he cut his speed by five miles an hour and changed lanes, but the police car would not pass. He felt a deep trembling in his chest and abdomen: he visualised the police car gaining on him, turning on its siren, forcing him to the side of the road. Then the questions would begin. It was about six in the afternoon, and the freeway was crowded: he felt himself being drawn helplessly along with the traffic, at the mercy of whoever was in the police car - helpless, trapped. He had to think. He was simply being drawn on towards Charleston, pulled by the traffic through miles of flat scrubby country: suburbs were always visible in the distance, miserable collections of little houses with frame garages. He could not remember the number of the freeway he was on. In the rear view mirror, behind the long row of cars, behind the police car, an old truck sent out a tall column of black smoke through a chimney-like pipe beside the engine. He feared the patrolman cruising up beside him and shouting: 'Get over!' And he could imagine the girl shouting, 'He made me come with him, he ties me onto him when he sleeps!' The southern sun seemed to assault his face, grind at his pores. The patrolman swung out into the next lane and began to draw up toward him. - Asshole, that's not your girl, who is that girl? Then they would put him in a cell and begin to beat him, working on him methodically with nightsticks, turning his skin purple. . . But none of that happened. ABOUT THIS BOOK: In life, not every sin goes unpunished. GHOST STORY For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder. MY THOUGHTS: I started to read Peter Straub after he co-wrote The Talisman with Stephen King. He is an author I run hot and cold on. Ghost Story is hot. It is a book that I reread every few years, and I always seem to find bits where I think, 'Damn! I don't remember that. . .' Ghost Story is a book that builds up slowly, so don't expect your chills from the first page, but it doesn't take long before you realise that something bad is coming. . . Straub's plotting and characters are intricate and exquisite. His writing is descriptive. You are there. If, like me, you still make sure that your wardrobe door is firmly closed before you go to sleep at night, then this is a book that you will enjoy. 😱😱😱😱 THE AUTHOR: Peter Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 2 March, 1943, the first of three sons of a salesman and a nurse. The salesman wanted him to become an athlete, the nurse thought he would do well as either a doctor or a Lutheran minister, but all he wanted to do was to learn to read. When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy colored paper, he took matters into his own hands and taught himself to read by memorizing his comic books and reciting them over and over to other neighborhood children on the front steps until he could recognize the words. Therefore, when he finally got to first grade to find everyone else laboring over the imbecile adventures of Dick, Jane and Spot (“See Spot run. See, see, see,”), he ransacked the library in search of pirates, soldiers, detectives, spies, criminals, and other colorful souls, Soon he had earned a reputation as an ace storyteller, in demand around campfires and in back yards on summer evenings. This career as the John Buchan to the first grade was interrupted by a collision between himself and an automobile which resulted in a classic near-death experience, many broken bones, surgical operations, a year out of school, a lengthy tenure in a wheelchair, and certain emotional quirks. Once back on his feet, he quickly acquired a severe stutter which plagued him into his twenties and now and then still puts in a nostalgic appearance, usually to the amusement of telephone operators and shop clerks. Because he had learned prematurely that the world was dangerous, he was jumpy, restless, hugely garrulous in spite of his stutter, physically uncomfortable and, at least until he began writing horror three decades later, prone to nightmares. Books took him out of himself, so he read even more than earlier, a youthful habit immeasurably valuable to any writer. And his storytelling, for in spite of everything he was still a sociable child with a lot of friends, took a turn toward the dark and the garish, toward the ghoulish and the violent. He found his first “effect” when he discovered that he could make this kind of thing funny. As if scripted, the rest of life followed. He went on scholarship to Milwaukee Country Day School and was the darling of his English teachers. He discovered Thomas Wolfe and Jack Kerouac, patron saints of wounded and self-conscious adolescence, and also, blessedly, jazz music, which spoke of utterance beyond any constraint: passion and liberation in the form of speech on the far side of the verbal border. The alto saxophone player Paul Desmond, speaking in the voice of a witty and inspired angel, epitomized ideal expressiveness, Our boy still had no idea why inspired speech spoke best when it spoke in code, the simultaneous terror and ecstasy of his ancient trauma, as well as its lifelong (so far, anyhow) legacy of anger, being so deeply embedded in the self as to be imperceptible, Did he behave badly, now and then? Did he wish to shock, annoy, disturb, and provoke? Are you kidding? Did he also wish to excel, to keep panic and uncertainty at arm's length by good old main force effort? Make a guess. So here we have a pure but unsteady case of denial happily able to maintain itself through merciless effort. Booted along by invisible fears and horrors, this fellow was rewarded by wonderful grades and a vague sense of a mysterious but transcendent wholeness available through expression. He went to the University of Wisconsin and, after opening his eyes to the various joys of Henry James, William Carlos Williams, and the Texas blues-rocker Steve Miller, a great & joyous character who lived across the street, passed through essentially unchanged to emerge in 1965 with an honors degree in English, then an MA at Columbia a year later. He thought actual writing was probably beyond him even though actual writing was probably what he was best at. DISCLOSURE: I own my rather battered copy of Ghost Story by Peter Straub. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the 'about' page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.wordpress.com https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    One of the best written stories I've ever come across! 2015: Still a classic.... One of the best written stories I've ever come across! 2015: Still a classic....

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Bea

    Quite simply the scariest book I've ever read. There were so many fantastically creepy parts to this but I don't want to say which parts scared me because I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone else! Although I will say that the story Sears shares with the Chowder Society near the beginning of the book was probably my favorite part of the whole book because it truly was horrifying. You have to immerse yourself in it. Let the story unfold at its own pace. The way the scenes changed reminded me Quite simply the scariest book I've ever read. There were so many fantastically creepy parts to this but I don't want to say which parts scared me because I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone else! Although I will say that the story Sears shares with the Chowder Society near the beginning of the book was probably my favorite part of the whole book because it truly was horrifying. You have to immerse yourself in it. Let the story unfold at its own pace. The way the scenes changed reminded me of how a well-paced movie or TV show would go. There are a lot of characters and perspectives to follow. As long as you pay attention you will be fine. If you're like me and you have an active imagination and love to get creeped out then I think you will enjoy this story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    A Classic horror story. I haven't read this book in many years and had forgotten a lot of it. I am glad I pulled it out again. They just don't write many like this one anymore. A Classic horror story. I haven't read this book in many years and had forgotten a lot of it. I am glad I pulled it out again. They just don't write many like this one anymore.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Stewart

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A brilliant piece of gothic horror that finds fresh ideas in dealing with ghosts, vampires and werewolves. The first half of this novel is a slow burner and gives the impression that the author is moving chess pieces on a board to some giant climax. Once the novel has reached the halfway point you’ll find your fingers glued to this book and unable to put it down. Ghost Story is a novel about a group of friends who hold weekly get togethers were they take it in turns to tell each other a story. T A brilliant piece of gothic horror that finds fresh ideas in dealing with ghosts, vampires and werewolves. The first half of this novel is a slow burner and gives the impression that the author is moving chess pieces on a board to some giant climax. Once the novel has reached the halfway point you’ll find your fingers glued to this book and unable to put it down. Ghost Story is a novel about a group of friends who hold weekly get togethers were they take it in turns to tell each other a story. The novel begins a year after one of their number has been found dead, and for that past year the group have only been able to tell each other ghost stories. All the members of the group have begun to feel haunted by some force that is connect to some horrible event in their connective past. The only flaw in this novel is in its first hundred pages are slow going. The writing meanders in these parts, and is at times confusion as to where the story is going. This evens out beyond those first hundred and then the quality jumps to fantastic heights. I’d recommend this book to readers who enjoy novels set in small towns and about such communities as the author creates a novel that works like a sequel to Salem’s Lot, which is high praise from me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    If I'd known how good this book was when it came out in 1979, I wouldn't have waited 30 years to read it! But some of the descriptions of the premise that I'd read were somewhat misleading as to what's really going on in the book (and that comment applies to the above description as well), and its bestseller status prejudiced me against it. (It's true that sales tend to measure hype, not quality --but sometimes, as here, the hype is amply justified. :-) Ghost Story both draws from, and significan If I'd known how good this book was when it came out in 1979, I wouldn't have waited 30 years to read it! But some of the descriptions of the premise that I'd read were somewhat misleading as to what's really going on in the book (and that comment applies to the above description as well), and its bestseller status prejudiced me against it. (It's true that sales tend to measure hype, not quality --but sometimes, as here, the hype is amply justified. :-) Ghost Story both draws from, and significantly contributes to, the classic horrific strand of the supernatural fiction genre. In its premise and its depiction of supernatural entities, it's original, even groundbreaking; but it also stands within the great tradition in its solid, accessible literary craftsmanship and its fundamentally moral orientation --a consciousness of the difference between good and evil, and the basic nature of the difference. The malevolent supernatural entities here are not demons in the Biblical sense (and the book makes little reference to the Christian tradition at all, though it isn't incompatible with it, IMO); but like demons, their principal weapon is temptation and deceit, and the principal weapon against them is an ability --which not all people have the wisdom and moral strength to do-- to resist and see through that. (And, as in the dark science fiction of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos or in Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan," a face-to-face encounter with the reality of these entities can drive naive people, whose rosy view of the world has never imagined the possibility of ultimate evil, into suicidal madness; but Straub doesn't succumb to the existential pessimism of Lovecraft and Machen.) The pacing here is excellent, Straub's prose is perfectly adapted to his subject matter, and his characterizations are superb. (Three of the important characters are elderly men and another is the wife of one of these; but Don Wanderley, who is arguably the main character, is a younger man, another major character is a teen, and a wide range of ages and social classes are represented in the well-drawn cast.) Straub brings his small-town upstate New York setting --especially the suffocating, claustrophobic cold of the area's winter blizzards--to such vivid life that I thought he might be a New York native (actually he hails from Wisconsin.) My only real criticism is that the prologue is off-putting at first, and its connection to the body of the story not immediately apparent. But the reader begins to see and understand the connection as the story unfolds, and then the prologue contributes to the novel's suspense, which absolutely crackles toward the end! (I read mostly while exercising on a stationary bike, and time my sessions with an oven timer; but for much of the book, it was all I could do to quit when the timer sounded --and if my self-control, as measured on one personality test I took in a grad school class, didn't literally go off the chart, I probably couldn't have!) Another caveat is that the book practically cries out for a sequel (not to provide any spoilers :-)), but Straub didn't write one. There is some bad language here, including three f-words (in 483 pages) and a certain amount of non-explicit illicit sex goes on; but the two characters who use the worst language are people no sane reader would feel any remote temptation to imitate in any respect, and Straub doesn't portray sexual sin as attractive --actually, more the reverse. Readers who don't want scary reads or are bothered by a lot of violence should be warned, though, that the fear quotient here is quite high, and so is the body count; and a good deal of the violence, in itself, is grisly, though (to his credit) Straub's descriptions are usually restrained rather than graphic, and don't stress the gore.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a reread of a book I did read well before my time on GR, I seem to have lost this book from my library somehow, sometime and somewhere, can only hope it enriched somebody else life. I git a ebook copy for free so after having read "the Black House" by Stephen king and Peter Straub I figured to return to this book. The book starts with its almost end before returning to somewhere past the middle of the story where the beginning gets explained to the main character who is a writer. This is This is a reread of a book I did read well before my time on GR, I seem to have lost this book from my library somehow, sometime and somewhere, can only hope it enriched somebody else life. I git a ebook copy for free so after having read "the Black House" by Stephen king and Peter Straub I figured to return to this book. The book starts with its almost end before returning to somewhere past the middle of the story where the beginning gets explained to the main character who is a writer. This is a book that does not lend itself for commuter traveling as its style is actually jumping between time lines and then do not forget the dream sequences of are they? This book about a group of men who celebrate storytelling in the town of Milburn, New York where the story is told from alternating viewpoints, the young men did something aweful when they were young and history is catching up quickly with them. When winter falls the past comes back to haunt them or better said slaughter them. It is a fascinating and sometimes difficult story that does draw you into the tale and never lets you go until the end. It manages to make you feel comfortable and then scare the sh#t out of you and makes you uncomfortable especially the child abduction scene with which the book opens. It certainly is a tour de force by Straub and he delivers a great Ghost story. Well worth your time even if the book is certainly a doorstop.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    Do NOT I repeat do NOT see the movie before you read this book. The movie leaves out most of what Peter Straub has written. It is a decent movie, but don't see it first. Don Wanderley lives through an encounter with a ghost, Alma Mobley, who passes to his brother (in human form, of course) who ends up dead. Don's uncle has died, as have other members of his uncle's little social group known as the Chowder Society. They are all elderly men, who meet together and tell ghost stories, stories that ha Do NOT I repeat do NOT see the movie before you read this book. The movie leaves out most of what Peter Straub has written. It is a decent movie, but don't see it first. Don Wanderley lives through an encounter with a ghost, Alma Mobley, who passes to his brother (in human form, of course) who ends up dead. Don's uncle has died, as have other members of his uncle's little social group known as the Chowder Society. They are all elderly men, who meet together and tell ghost stories, stories that have happened to them in their pasts. The stories they tell are chilling enough, but the one they save for last, to tell Don, is the most chilling of all, and it is the root of Don's personal ghost story. I really hate to give away details in these types of stories, but suffice it to say (I love that phrase!) the book is probably one of Straub's better works. You will find yourself turning page after page until the book is over. Recommend for the ghost story/horror aficionado, a book that should not be missed for people in that category!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melody Sams

    This is one of the scariest books I’ve ever come across. The atmosphere is often creepy and foreboding, and some of the occurrences are downright disturbing. If you like horror this is probably right up your alley.

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