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1. A Dark Matter
2. Magic Terror
3. Ghost Story
4. In the Night Room: A Novel
5. Lost Boy, Lost Girl
6. Shadowland
7. Mystery (Blue Rose Trilogy)
8. The Throat: Blue Rose Trilogy
9. Koko
10. The Green Woman
11. The Hellfire Club
12. Pork Pie Hat
13. Mr. X
14. A Special Place: The Heart of
15. Koko
16. If You Could See Me Now
17. American Fantastic Tales:Terror
18. The Talisman
19. American Fantastic Tales Boxed
20. Black House

1. A Dark Matter
by Peter Straub
Hardcover: 416 Pages (2010-02-09)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$4.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 038551638X
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The incomparable master of horror and suspense returns with a powerful, brilliantly terrifying novel that redefines the genre in original and unexpected ways.

The charismatic and cunning Spenser Mallon is a campus guru in the 1960s, attracting the devotion and demanding sexual favors of his young acolytes. After he invites his most fervent followers to attend a secret ritual in a local meadow, the only thing that remains is a gruesomely dismembered body—and the shattered souls of all who were present.

Years later, one man attempts to understand what happened to his wife and to his friends by writing a book about this horrible night, and it’s through this process that they begin to examine the unspeakable events that have bound them in ways they cannot fathom, but that have haunted every one of them through their lives. As each of the old friends tries to come to grips with the darkness of the past, they find themselves face-to-face with the evil triggered so many years earlier. Unfolding through the individual stories of the fated group’s members, A Dark Matter is an electric, chilling, and unpredictable novel that will satisfy Peter Straub's many ardent fans, and win him legions more. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (88)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Fun Ride
I don't believe this is Peter Straub's best work, but it's much better than some of the reviews here would seem to suggest. I found that what this novel has going for it more than anything else is a very powerful narrative drive -- I couldn't put it down, trite though that sounds.

If you're looking for a neat ending where everything nicely resolves and is completely lucid, you probably won't like this story. To my way of thinking this uncertainty serves well in establishing a disturbing level of verisimilitude for the horrific events being described. Overall, again it's not his best book but much deserving of your attention nonetheless. A very enjoyable way to spend a few hours. Thank you Mr. Straub!

3-0 out of 5 stars An Unfinished Book
I love Peter Straub. He brings such a wonderful literary flair to the horror genre. But this book...There were so many things that had great build-ups, not red herrings, but truly a build-up waiting for a climax--which never came. And there were several of these, which made it all the more noticeable and disappointing. It was wonderfully written, but felt incomplete.

3-0 out of 5 stars A matter of typos
When you're hoping for suspension of disbelief, the last thing you want to encounter is the dreaded TYPO.It's like watching a play that you're really getting into until one of the actors starts fluffing her lines.Let me get this off my chest first by listing some of the typos I found, most of them in the first half of the book.Clearly Mr. Straub's proofreader was out to lunch at least part of the time:

Page 111:I shook his head.(Elicits an amusing visual).

Page 118:I would ordinarily permit himself to take alcohol.

(I'm guessing that Straub must have started out using the third person and then changed his mind.)

In spite of everything, it always feels good to get back to Madison," Olson said.No quotation marks at the beginning of the sentence, which unfortunately is also the first line of a new chapter.

Page 207:"Oh," I said, as if knew all about the Arkansas Fayetteville.

I look forward to reading anything Straub writes.He's a more literate, more intelligent writer than Stephen King, whom I also enjoy, and his stories are usually entertaining and scary. When I found this book on the 14-day shelf at the library, I almost jumped for joy.But I never really got into it.I read it through to the end, waiting to be chilled and thrilled.It never happened.

His writing, except for the distracting typos, is its usual high quality.But the characters and the bizarre event around which the novel revolves are frankly blah.Some of them are downright annoying, like Lee Truax, who's presented as some kind of saint who can do no wrong that everyone looks up to; and then there's the handsome Guru, obviously a narcissist and anything but spiritual.Each character eventually gives his/her version of what he/she saw on that long-ago life-changing day to the only member of the group who missed it, but it amounts to a series of "so what?" moments. There's no real climax.The novel just sort of creeps to a stop, and who knows what the moral is.Something about humans all having good and evil in them.Wow, what a revelation!

1-0 out of 5 stars Just like almost every other Straub book
I have never truly enjoyed a Peter Straub book, they all range between varying levels of pointlessness and dreariness. All of them have concepts that instantly grab attention, which is the reason why I keep buying and reading Peter Straub books with the hope that this one might just be satisfying, but the books themselves rarely go beyond their concept. All of this is true of 'A Dark Matter'. The plot has been described in other reviews, I would just add that the story goes nowhere.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Book That Left Me Feeling Cheated Of My Time And Money
I love Peter Straub. Seriously, I do. He is the writer of "fine, fine novels" (anyone ID that quote for 10 points?) and on top of that he is a nice man who shows generosity toward his fans, has a delightful sense of humor, and for the clencher, he seems to be looking younger today than he did ten years ago, no mean feat! Still, Amazonians, I was livid with him when I came away after spending six hours and twenty-whatever dollars on a book that has its head stuck where the sun doth rarely shine.

Yes, I was disappointed in this book because it never really fulfilled its early promise but just kept going from character to character re-telling the story of the same 1960s event over and over without answering the questions I wanted to know. A Dark Matter sounds much better in its dust jacket description than it ever gets to be in execution, largely because the living treasure who is Mr. Straub delivers a puzzlingly timid tale that is never allowed to flourish. I was rapt early on in the book, bored by the mid-point, infuriated at the end. So many unanswered questions, namely who the hell was the guy in the airport who gave the warning about the flight?

This could have been one of this writer's best novels in years, and for a while I thought it was going to be just that, but in the end...

I think I'll stick to vintage Peter Straub, because for the moment my interest in reading another of his more recent books is as dead as my one-time role model Stony Baxter Friedgood.
... Read more

2. Magic Terror
by Peter Straub
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2001-08-28)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449006883
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Welcome to another kind of terror as Peter Straub leads us into the outer reaches of the psyche. Here the master of the macabre is at his absolute best in seven exquisite tales of living, dying, and the terror that lies in between. . . .


Isn’t It Romantic?

–The New York Times

–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The Ghost Village

Bunny Is Good Bread
Winner of a World Fantasy Award


The Washington Post Book World
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Porkpie Hat

Hunger, An Introduction


–USA Today

Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff
Winner of a Bram Stoker Award
–The Denver Post

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Amazon.com Review
Peter Straub is a fine sorcerer of horror whose bag of tricks includesstories of pure, unadulterated horror (Julia and Koko), as well as moresubtle tales of psychological suspense (Mr. X and Shadowland).Now Straubconjures up Magic Terror, a collection of seven deeply disturbingtales that display his entire range.

"Bunny Is Good Bread" is without a doubt the most haunted tale of all,a harrowing account of a childhood from hell. The scary hero Fee was sotraumatized as a 5-year-old by abuse from his father that he disconnectshimself from the real world and lives as if in a film. Why? "If you forgotyou were in a movie, your own feelings would tear you into bloody rags."Ever since the day Fee watches his mother die a horrible death, he's beentormented: "He was one-half dead himself; half of him belonged to his deadmother."

Fee is not the only character to be struck by a dark epiphany, alife-changing moment. In the lyrical "Porkpie Hat," a famous jazzmusician recounts the ghoulish Halloween encounter that charted the courseof his destiny, and in the twisted fairy tale "Ashputtle," afantasy-inclined "princess" seeks retribution for a traumatic incident manyyears before.

In Straub's world, horror appears in different disguises--the dark mask ofchild abuse and the bloodied cloak of war ("The Ghost Village").Regardless of how it shows itself, the effects will haunt long afterlights out. --Naomi Gesinger ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

2-0 out of 5 stars IMHO Straub should stick to novels
While reading this I felt like I was reading "flowery" sentences that lead nowhere & were simply distractions.Although, I thought "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff" was an excellent story.

The rest...

"Ashputtle" was a strange twisted tale.

"Isn't It Romantic?" was dull & so predictable.

"The Ghost Village" was very good, but seemed like a rerun.

"Bunny is Good Bread" was disturbing, but very good.

"Porkpie Hat" was a good story, but it took forever to get into. While reading the 1st 1/2 I was drowning in a sea of unnecessary information, which might be okay if it was a novel.

"Hunger, An Introduction" was almost painful to read at times.

Hopefully "Houses Without Doors" will be better...

4-0 out of 5 stars A dual review of Straub's Magic Terror and Tessier's Ghost Music

Linked as they are by bonds of friendship, their accomplished writing and their incalculable contributions to modern horror, it seemed fitting that short story collections from Peter Straub and Thomas Tessier crossed my desk almost simultaneously. Given my admiration for their work, I put everything else aside (including urgent details of a pending move to another continent) and eagerly read them back to back.

As billed, MAGIC TERROR presents seven tales of suspense and the macabre. Two, 'The Ghost Village' and 'Bunny is Good Bread,' relate to Straub's brilliant Blue Rose Trilogy. The first details Tim Underhill's encounter with spirits inhabiting the Vietnamese village of Tong Bo; the second tells of events from the tragic childhood of future serial killer Fee Bandolier. 'Hunger, An Introduction'ostensibly about the afterlife, also addresses social tensions that persist among various economic classes. IHG Award Winner 'Mr. Club and Mr. Cuff' provides a bizarre riff on Melville's classic Bartleby the Scrivener. More down to earth, but nonetheless chilling, are 'Isn't it Romantic?', recalling the works of Graham Greene, and 'Pork Pie Hat,' the story of a Halloween night long ago that skewed a famous musician's worldview toward cynicism and despair.

Among the Straub stories, my favorite was 'Ashputtle', the story of the sadistic Mrs.Asch, a teacher who exploits, manipulates and sometimes dispatches her young charges. Straub navigates some very ambiguous terrain here. On the one hand, he summons memories that many of us have of being mistreated in the classroom, detailing Mrs. Asch's sins in her own cruel voice. This portion of the narrative reaches a chilling zenith when the murderous schoolmarm inadvertently drops her guard and refers to a student as 'it'. Straub then turns the tables, making us feel sympathy for the monster, whose actions are the result of an abusive childhood.

Tessier's collection is no less entertaining: GHOST MUSIC demonstrates his wide range and talent, and his skill at giving the reader an exquisite feel for his characters. Examples of this talent are found in 'Food,' featuring the lonely Mr. Whitman, who, desperate for human contact, strikes up an absolutely bizarre relationship with his morbidly obese and housebound neighbor. 'Curing Hitler' chronicles a doctor's attempts to treat the case of hysterical blindness the Fuhrer experienced during World War I. Several tales deal with their character's journeys, both physical and mental, as they seek their bliss, search for personal Grails, and find their fates. Thus we have 'Blanca,' wherein the protagonist is trapped in a foreign locale, 'In Praise of Folly' and 'Infidel,' two tales in which characters undertake unusual searches which cost them their lives, and 'La Mournante,' where a quest for love results in a loss of identity.

The most terrifying piece in this collection is also one of the most subtle.'In I Remember Me,' Tessier describes a world ravaged by a disease that attacks people's memories. Through a number of short but telling vignettes, he effectively conveys the protagonist's horror and dismay at his loss of self. Despite finding occasional solace in his ever changing world, he ultimately fades into nothingness.

Both authors are canny practitioners of their trade, expertly manipulating readers' emotions to achieve their eerie effects. Savor these stories, and relish the time you spend in the company of two of today's most elegant stylists.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not his best
When it comes to Peter Straub, I've read better. This is the first collection of his short stories that I've read, and I must say that if all his short stories are like this, I'm sticking to his novels.

Not that these stories are bad. Just needlessly complex for short stories. Such complexity kills drama. "Porkpie Hat", for example, is a halloween story told by a jazz musician named "Hat" (or, for those who can read the clues, the one and only Lester Young). It's a fairly simple story that stretches on for 60 pages. Some stories, like healthy elastic, can stretch in such a manner and still remain tense and dramatic, while others sag like taffy. "Porkpie Hat" is taffy. I found myself more interested in the description of "Hat" himself and his work life than the actual story.

Most of the other stories are like that: long and in the end conveyant of the feeling that one wasted one's time. Not the best.

4-0 out of 5 stars More intelligent horror for intelligent readers.
Stephen King summed up Peter Straub with this excellent statement, "He is the only one out there in the [horror] field writing bona fide literature."This collection of seven tales (most of which are novella length) just proves this true.However, to be honest, the short tale is not Straub's strong point.He works best in long, intricate narratives that both use and deconstruct the thriller genre, all the while saturating the story with literary and cultural references, parodies, and homages.Each of the stories collected contain some of these elements, but not all of them.

Ashputtle will have you rethinking that pudgy grade school teacher you mocked, or the one you now entrust with the education of your child.Isn't It Romantic has an assassin on his last job and rethinking his first job in a new light.The Ghost Village is yet another story linked to his classic Blue Rose trilogy, as is the horrifying Bunny Is Good Bread.Which explains just what made a mysterious killer the way he was.Porkpie Hat is a classic tale, the story within the story not only a beautiful return to the ghost story form for the author, but it is also Straub at his deconstructionist finest.Revelling in how our storytelling allows us to communicate a hidden truth and overcome tragedy.Hunger, An Introduction offers yet another story within a story, trying to make us understand what makes ghosts haunt us so.It also expands on themes presented in The Ghost Village quite nicely.The closing story, Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff, is a hilarious, albeit gruesome, black comedy about the karmic nature of revenge.Those who long for a return to witty, intelligent and literate genre writing need look here.Highly recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars Perhaps one good story
MAGIC TERROR is an anthology of previously released material compiled together into one book. Most of the stories are complex and it only creates confusion to his readers. Some of the stories are very disturbing in which we get inside the minds of madmen, such as the lead characters in ASHPUTTLE and BUNNY IS GOOD BREAD. The first story involves a kindergarten teacher who takes revenge out of something that happened in her childhood. The other story shows the evolution of a serial killer with the help of good old dad.

This collection of short stories is mainly for Peter Straub loyalists who enjoy reading his work. His novels are much better than his short stories. Try THE HELLFIRE CLUB or GHOST STORY for a real fun time. ... Read more

3. Ghost Story
by Peter Straub
Mass Market Paperback: 560 Pages (2001-10-02)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671685635
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In life, not every sin goes unpunished.


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.

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. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (129)

5-0 out of 5 stars What is Alma/Eva etc.?
There's something I've always wondered about this book... what IS Alma/Eva? The story has been interpreted as being about her ghost coming back to take revenge, but I never saw it like that. She is not the "ghost" of Eva Galli... Eva Galli herself was a "ghost" of sorts. I always considered Alma/Eva more of an immortal, demonic witch, something like the Bell Witch. I saw her as a being that had been around a long time... an ancient spirit, an ancient evil. Her vengeance is not driven by the men having "killed" her... they couldn't kill her. She does it just because she can, for the fun of it. She enjoys playing cat and mouse, enjoys toying with mortals, enjoys exposing their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, enjoys tormenting and terrifying them and destroying them. She is evil, but I don't think she sees herself as evil. She sees herself as superior. She feels she has a RIGHT to do what she does. She has a right to entertain herself with mortals, to use them, play with them, discard them. And if any of them get on her really bad side, well, she'll take her sweet time "getting back" at them. But I don't think she "takes revenge" because she is really hurt or angry or anything...she takes revenge because it adds spice to the proceedings. Being immortal can get boring...she craves excitement.

2-0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointed
I purchased this book with great expectations of enjoying a suspenseful read. Unfortunately it's not. There's a great opening prologue involving an apparent kidnapper and a young girl who is apparently his victim. Then we move on to the Chowder Club, a group of old men who tell ghost stories and for the two hundred or so pages we are stuck. We get hints of horrors, a lot of confusing suggestions meant to baffle and keep the reader interested but it is done so often and for so long that it fails. Interesting and gripping moments along the way but too few to keep this reader's interest. I forced myself to the end however.

Shame. I like some of Straub's books (Koko) and since this was hailed by so many as one of his best, I thought I'd enjoy it. Did not.

2-0 out of 5 stars Boring, Boring, Boring!
Just finished this five-hundred-page mess.I have never been so bored or frustrated with a novel as I found myself with THIS one!Unnecessarily long, unnecessarily wordy, and as frightening as an episode of The Brady Bunch, this novel trudges on forever, is terribly anti-climatic, and fills the reader's head with so much rambling nonsense that, by page 180, I considered abandoning the read.But, I hung in there--hoping the story would improve with each page--only to realize that this unnecessarily complex mess of characters and plot lines only gets worse.The most thrilling aspect of the story is FINISHING it--never to have to read it again!Huge waste of time.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good story, bad writting
I don't know what it is about Straub. He's got a great imagination, great story ideas and plots, knows how to toss in plot twists... but he writes like my old history teacher: long winded and hard to follow. Like several of his other books I've read, I had a really hard time keeping up with this. It seemed all over the place. You'd be with one character for awhile and then you'd have a fifty page flashback and then end up following along with someone else you were barely introduced to before then have another fifty page flashback... and in the mean time just confused due to his very odd writing style. I've never had to go back and reread sentences so often with any other author.

In the end it was a good story marred by bad pacing, bad writing, and fairly incomprehensible plot at times.

4-0 out of 5 stars Spooky Scary
Good novel.It kinda just jumps into a lot of stuff and can leave you feeling a little lost at first.Stick with it and be rewarded though. ... Read more

4. In the Night Room: A Novel
by Peter Straub
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2006-03-28)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345491327
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In his latest soul-chilling novel, bestselling author Peter Straub tells of a famous children’s book author who, in the wake of a grotesque accident, realizes that the most basic facts of her existence, including her existence itself, have come into question.
Willy Patrick, the respected author of the award-winning young-adult novel In the Night Room, thinks she is losing her mind–again. One day, she is drawn helplessly into the parking lot of a warehouse. She knows somehow that her daughter, Holly, is being held in the building, and she has an overwhelming need to rescue her. But what Willy knows is impossible, for her daughter is dead.
On the same day, author Timothy Underhill, who has been struggling with a new book about a troubled young woman, is confronted with the ghost of his nine-year-old sister, April. Soon after, he begins to receive eerie, fragmented e-mails that he finally realizes are from people he knew in his youth–people now dead. Like his sister, they want urgently to tell him something. When Willy and Timothy meet, the frightening parallels between Willy’s tragic loss and the story in Tim’s manuscript suggest that they must join forces to confront the evils surrounding them.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

2-0 out of 5 stars Mostly disappointeted
Actually this book deserves 2 1/2 stars.It wasn't that bad, it just wasn't good.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not quite the perfect book
In The Night Room was my first introduction to Straub.Admittedly, I didn't do research before picking up this book which probably adds to my frustration and confusion.I wish I had read lost boy lost girl first as many of the references and imagery took me too long to pick up reading this book first.Many interesting points made my mind wonder and at some points sadly wander but as a whole, an interesting book.Intriguing enough to make me want to pick up more Straub to see what he truly can do (ie lost boy lost girl) but not good enough to make me rush out and buy his whole collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars Review by www.cymlowell.blogspot.com
Imagine that you are a writer discovering the personalities of the characters that you have created or which have evolved as you unearthed your story. Is it possible that you could fall in love with a character, who could appear to be a dream come true as he or she emerges from the mists of your mind? Or maybe the protagonist has come from such a dreadful place that you want to find a way to salve the miseries in her or his soul. And what if you were so entranced with the intersection of fiction and reality that you wanted to merge the milieu to bring the fictional characters into your own world of supposed reality?

This is the road that Peter Straub masterfully traverses in his thought-provoking, excellent novel In the Night Room. The story could appear to be a mystery or an expose of the day-to-day realities of a prominent writer, sometimes pursued by sycophantic fans. Or it could be a romance as the hero of the story, a famous author of course, falls in love with the woman who is the heroine and who, herself, is a well known author.

The story lines of each of these stories emerge in clever sequence. I found myself wondering what was real vs. imagination of the various writers. As a writer, one inevitably becomes involved with characters, provided that they have reality to the writer. How could this not be the case, as one seeks to understand the motivations and actions of the personalities that provide life to an otherwise dull background narrative.

"Story-within-story" is a well accepterd means of storytelling. My own favorite is Willa Cather's adventure set within The Professor's House. In In the Night Room, Mr. Straub takes this an interesting step further to blend the stories into a fascinating narrative.

If you enjoy envisioning how writer's write and think as they compose their stories, as I do for sure, you will be as fascinated with this book as was I.

3-0 out of 5 stars Okay Story
This was my first Peter Straub read.I thought the story was okay, not quite up to par with what I've heard about his books.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not good at all
I honestly don't understand why anyone would consider the plot of this book to be a good one. I thought it was actually silly, without any credibility and filled with poorly written dialogues. Around 2/3 of the book I just didn't care about what would happen in the end and stopped reading. I have never felt the slightest desire to pick it up again to finish it. ... Read more

5. Lost Boy, Lost Girl
by Peter Straub
Hardcover: 304 Pages (2003-10-07)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$1.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400060923
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A woman commits suicide for no apparent reason. A week later, her son—beautiful, troubled fifteen-year-old Mark Underhill—vanishes from the face of the earth. To his uncle, horror novelist Timothy Underhill, Mark’s inexplicable absence feels like a second death. After his sister-in-law’s funeral, Tim searches his hometown of Millhaven for clues that might help him unravel this mystery of death and disappearance. He soon learns that a pedophilic murderer is on the loose in the vicinity, and that shortly before his mother’s suicide Mark had become obsessed with an abandoned house where he imagined the killer might have taken refuge. No mere empty building, the house on Michigan Street whispers from attic to basement with the echoes of a long-hidden true-life horror story, and Tim Underhill comes to fear that in investigating its unspeakable history, Mark stumbled across its last and greatest secret: a ghostly lost girl who may have coaxed the needy, suggestible boy into her mysterious domain.

With lost boy lost girl, Peter Straub affirms once again that he is the master of literary horror. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (84)

2-0 out of 5 stars The first book I read by Peter Straub
This was the first book I've read by Peter Straub and by guessing from the general rating of some of his other books they don't get better. The only reason I even tried Straub was because he collaborated with Stephen King who is a great author. Although if this is any indication of how he writes then I will never bother to pick up another one of his books. I usually finish the books I start, but I had to drop this one.

1-0 out of 5 stars No TTS Boycott non tts books on amazon
I accidentally downloaded this without checking to see if the TTS (text to speech) functionality was enabled. I put it on my kindle got in my car and no TTS! I have resolved to not only boycott non TTS books on amazon but to alsoboycott all Amazon ebooks until all Amazon ebooks are TTS enabled. Shame on Amazon for caving on this issue. It is however possible to put ebooks on the kindle that do not come from amazon and thats what I intend to do from now on. Sorry Amazon but you screwed up on this one!

2-0 out of 5 stars Good premise, poorly executed
This is first book I've read by Peter Straub, and if this one is indicative of his writing style overall, it will be my last. It's like he can't decide the style or tone he wants to use. I get that the numerous little asides are on purpose and meant to create a mood, but they were just distracting to me. And the dialogue just didn't ring true at all, to me. As for the story - interesting, creepy premise. I liked the interconnectedness of the plots. I was interested enough to read the whole book, even though I didn't care for the writing style. So, that's a positive. However, not even a little bit scary. I never even felt slightly creeped out, which was disappointing, because when I read a "scary" book, I want to feel scared, danggit. And one of the final scenes, involving a computer, was LAME. Really, really, lame. I won't describe so as not to spoil anything, but, as I read it, I was just thinking, oh come on! So, overall, a nice ghost/serial killer story that could have been executed much better.

2-0 out of 5 stars The writing Style turned me off
I loved the story itself & thought it was a good scary ghost story/mystery.However, I could not stand the writing style!It was full of redundant dialog - I was basically reading the same thing over & over.

I also thought the ending was a bit cheezy...

This was the 1st bk. I've read by Straub & if the others are written the same way I'll pass.

2-0 out of 5 stars A snoozer...
Too many storylines--this book could have easily been 3 separate books.Not only were there too many storylines, they didn't mesh.Wife/mother commits suicide.Nobody cares, and it doesn't matter to the plot anyway.There are lots more examples like that in this book.And the ending is incredibly disappointing.Nothing happens, nothing is wrapped up.It just....ends.A total snoozer.2 stars because I barely managed kto made it to the end of the book. ... Read more

6. Shadowland
by Peter Straub
Paperback: 480 Pages (2003-03-04)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425188221
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The #1 New York Times bestselling author's all-time horror classic
Now with a new introduction by Peter Straub

Few modern horror novels have been able to stand the test of time like Shadowland. Now, with a new introduction from Peter Straub, this classic becomes a collectible for his insatiable fans-and for new readers who have just discovered Straub through the bestselling Black House, co-written with Stephen King.Amazon.com Review
First setting: an all-male prep school in Arizona, where twosensitive freshmen form a bond based on their interest in magictricks. Second setting: the labyrinthine house of a weird magicianuncle in New England, where the two boys spend a memorable summerbeing trained in the art of illusion. Or is it real magic? Thirdsetting: an alternate world where dark forces are at play--forces thatfirst show up at the school, but intensify their power thesummer. Shadowland is a superb, under-recognized, early novelfrom a master of literary terror. Get it while it's back in print! ... Read more

Customer Reviews (62)

5-0 out of 5 stars A place like no other...
Peter Straub's Shadowland is a rolling ride into undefinded horror that leaves the reader quaking.Prep schools are a nightmare in themselves (for the attendees)Arizona prep schools are something else.Despite the stigma associated with the schools, many fast friendships can be formed among the students. Del and Tom form such a friendship, sharing a childlike curiosity in magic, learning to execute those ever difficult card tricks, dodging a headmaster from hell, and trying to understand why the entire school is suffering from nightmares.

Shadowland is an estate owned by Del's alcholic and slightly mad uncle, a retired magician. Shadowland is a world in itself, as the name implies, for nothing is what it seems.Others live at Shadowland, ones that the boys are not aware of, but suspect. Del's uncle spins tales of wonder, frightening and magical, and everything appears to be tied into Shadowland and it's surrounding areas.

Shadowland is frightening, terrifying, and a nail biting bit of fiction that will keep the reader on the edge of their seats.Ranking right up there with the kings of horror, Straub has produced another masterpeice!

5-0 out of 5 stars good story
This book was re-issued when I bought it a few years ago. i enjoyed the talisman, so I tried this book. This follows boys at a magic prep school--trying to remember--been awhile---taunting from other students and a grudge against one of the teachers. Clear character descriptions, def. recommended.

also recommend "Honest Illusions" by Nora Roberts if you like fiction stories about magic. Different genre, but worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars interesting book
First read anything by Peter Straub when he wrote the Talisman with Stephen King. Was curious and so I got this book. It was one I could not put down and really didnt want the book to end.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
I first read Shadowland when I was 14 or 15 and loved it.Since then, I've re-read it maybe a dozen times or so and never get tired of it.I've loaned it out and bought it again many times over.I would recommend this book to any fan of magic or modern horror.It is one of my favorite book of all time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Do you believe in magic?
One of my favorite Straub novels.A novel that transcends the usual horror conventions and weaves a story that captivates and haunts. ... Read more

7. Mystery (Blue Rose Trilogy)
by Peter Straub
Paperback: 560 Pages (2010-01-12)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307472221
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
MYSTERY.  Tom Pasmore, ten years old, survives a near fatal accident.  During his long recovery, he becomes obsessed with an unsolved murder and finds he has clues to solving it that he shouldn’t.  Lamont von Heilitz has spent his life solving mysteries, until he wanted to know nothing more of the terror of life and the horror of death.  When a new murder disrupts their world of wealth, power, and pleasure, the two must form an unlikely partnership to confront demons from the past and the dark secrets that still haunt the present. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

3-0 out of 5 stars Oh, it's a TRILOGY
I didn't know it was a trilogy. I didn't know WHAT the heck it was by the time I finished wrestling it to the end. It never told me who Blue Rose was. In fact, it didn't make a big deal of Blue Rose, the way one reviewer claims it does. Blue Rose came into it like adding the kitchen sink and then forgetting you put it there. I was so perturbed at the lack of resolution that I skimmed the final 3 pages and almost put the paperback in the trash once done.

MYSTERY gets 3 stars from me instead of one because, crazy as it all was, at least I enjoyed it, wanted to keep reading (between periodic throws at the wall), and loved some of the characters (did not like others, and felt many were wasted). I don't see how "the bad guys" got the jump on Von Heilitz, and that really hacks me off. A great deal of the story does that to me. I scribble in margins, and this book's margins contain very little else besides "What?!" and "This is %$#@#$% impossible." A good book shouldn't be so much work and stress to read. And frankly...a good book ISN'T.

I don't know why I love Peter Straub anyway, but, I do. He is a fine writer, different in all the ways I value. I just...I dunno...wonder if he was drinking coffee, or maybe something else, when he wove such a tangled, colorful, beautiful, unfathomable, intriguing mess. Perhaps if I'd known it was a trilogy, and read the first book first, and realized it didn't end with "Mystery" WHILE I was reading it--but I knew nothing except what the author gave me, and all through the book, he waxed between giving me too much and not enough. Dangling threads, thoughts that the reader is required to finish without sufficient info for the insight to do so...a book so strange that in it, doors going into rooms from hallways open outwards, and descriptions are so convoluted that you start to see vivid Japanese Anime in your head. I was forced to make a huge effort to give up trying to connect dots in this story, especially as regards meandering descriptions of the action itself, visually following the hero from his doostep to his destination and back again. It's just too weird a map to follow with the naked human eye. A blur results, and a headache, like car sickness, at least for me.

KER-POW!--at the wall with ya, "Mystery" by Peter Straub!

And yet, I am going to read the first and last volumes as soon as I get my hands on them.

So Mr. Straub, keep writing. It seems you're what we want.

5-0 out of 5 stars Like a good wine ...
In my childhood -- when summers lasted forever -- I enjoyed reading some books annually at our isolated northern cottage. Now retired, I still do.

Straub's "Mystery" is a good read. It might not rank up there with the so-called "classics" I studied in universities, but I still re-read it because it's a fascinating story about the mysteries in dying, loving, hating, growing up, and living in multiple worlds. It focuses on hope. Definitely not a fantasy or ghost story.

The AUDIO version, unfortunately, left out a lot of the "meat" that makes the book a good read, and is not worth listening to more than once.

5-0 out of 5 stars Multiple mysteries all cleverly interconnected. Fascinating!
A story of intertwined power, corruption, love, hate, abuse, justice, and tragedy as seen through the questioning eyes of an adolescent.

As usual, the story in the unabridged BOOK is far more detailed than this abridged audio version ... but it's still great to listen to when we're on the road or at the cottage.

If you like mysteries, this is a must-have! I own three copies.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully layered, complex, great read!
This is such an unusual book, and completely addictive after I got the hang of his style.It started off a trifle slowly for me, but became so enjoyable in the character development and story that I went to bed earlier and earlier to read more before drifting off.

Art imitating life, things happened that he didn't neatly tie up and explain within two pages, either for the characters or for us.It's mouth-watering as you move among the richly described socio-economic strata, becoming aware of the depths and shallows of the characters and locales - nothing really single-dimension. True to life, his characters may be strong in some suit, but weak in others. I really enjoyed that Straub doesn't "tell us".He lets us tag along and observe, making our own judgements, as his main character experiences his love, pain, confusion, longings.

Don't think from my description that it's purely an emotional discovery type of book. Plenty of action that's valid (as opposed to gratuitous action scenes), some explained, some not till later.

WHOPPING GREAT READ. Take your time with it and savor it, as you'll be sad to put it down for the last time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Quite a Writer!
Once again Peter Straub proves himself to be a talented writer.This book, one-third of the Blue Rose trilogy, is set in the mid-60's and features Tom Pasmore, a teenager who is thrown into the middle of a mystery that goes back 40 years.With the help of an eccentric neighbor, Tom uncovers family secrets, conspiracies and other intriguing information. ... Read more

8. The Throat: Blue Rose Trilogy (3)
by Peter Straub
Paperback: 704 Pages (2010-08-10)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 030747223X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Peter Straub’s chilling Blue Rose Trilogy comes to an astonishing close—secrets unearthed, demons revisited, and mysteries solved.
The Throat.  Tim Underhill, now an acclaimed novelist, travels back to his hometown of Millhaven, Illinois after he gets a call from John Ransom, an old army buddy.  Ransom believes there’s a copycat killer on the loose, mimicking the Blue Rose murders from decades earlier—he thinks his wife could be a potential victim.  Underhill seeks out his old friend Tom Pasmore, an aging hermit who has attained minor celebrity as an expert sleuth, to help him investigate.  They quickly discover that Millhaven is a town plagued by horrifying secrets and there is a twisted killer on the loose who is far more dangerous than they ever imagined.  Expertly tying together the events of Koko and Mystery, The Throat proves Peter Straub to be the master of the suspense novel. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

3-0 out of 5 stars Too long
This is a fine mystery and a thriller. There's plenty of great writing and great characters. The mystery goes from Vietnam to Millhaven and the main character keeps it going. The main problem - and the reason why I'm taking off two stars - is the fact that it's 700 pages long. A mystery thriller should be 200 pages. 300 pages tops. One could defend Straub on the fact that he wants to put all the pieces together and he really likes the characters who populated his previous books. That might give it another 100 pages.

But there is really no reason for a 700 page mystery/thriller. 700 page books are supposed to be philosophical novels or major treatises on growing up or multi-character epics. The Stand is a great long book. So is The Brothers Karamazov. They both justify their lengths (the former more than the latter) because there's a lot going on in them. With this book, it's a mystery. Who is the Blue Rose killer? Is he still active? Who attacked Underhill's friend's wife?

Sadly, in the slog through this book you start asking other questions like - when is this going to end? Why am I still reading this? If I skip a few chapters will I miss anything? Arkham University - really? Is that Cthulu reference cute or annoying? Why doesn't the protagonist see how much he's being manipulated? Isn't it too early to introduce the murderer?

It gets wearisome and as a murder mystery, that's deadly. Peter Straub should be commended for branching out from his horror comfort zone, but a Ed McBain was a trendsetter for a reason.

2-0 out of 5 stars Give Straub a Watch and/or a Calendar!
I can't explain to you why I kept reading this book.It wasn't great.It wasn't even good.I kept thinking "how many more pages until I'm done?"And the answer was always "way too many."689 pages - really necessary?The book's length was a problem for me in that I couldn't remember little details from early in the book because it was so long ago I had read them!

I could list all the things I didn't like about this book, but I'm going to talk about one that I haven't seen anyone else mention, and that's Straub's use of time.Put bluntly, his concept of time sucks.

At one point, our duo goes out to seek some information.They leave at somewhere around 12:30 in the afternoon (they have lunch at 12:30 and then leave, but I'll say 12:30 to be generous.)It's a very foggy day, and it takes them "a little more than two and a half hours" to get where they're going.So now it's at least 3:00.They search the house and then leave.Let's give them a half hour at the house, so they leave at 3:30.It takes them "nearly two hours" to get back to their place.It's now 5:30 at the earliest.They eat dinner and discuss what to do next.One of them goes upstairs and looks through some of the stuff they had found.Then he picks up a book to read.It's got to be 6:00 or later by now.Then we read, "Around three-thirty, John began hollering up the stairs that we'd better get going if we wanted to get to Arkham by four."Huh?Was there a time warp?

Why does he bother specifically telling us what time things happened and how long they took if he doesn't even keep track of it himself?

Our hero picks up a newspaper at 9:30.The whole town has apparently already been reading it and talking about it.He reads about the arrest of a suspect in the killings.At "just after seven," the suspect had left the house, and two little boys across the street had gone over to look in his window.What they saw there made them run home and tell their parents.The parents call the police, who show up "ten minutes later."After they take a look, six more police cars show up "before another twenty minutes had passed."So now it's after 7:30.They wait for the suspect and arrest him when he returns, presumably sometime between 7:30 and 8:00.Yet by 9:00 the entire story has been printed in the newspaper and distributed to the entire city, complete with all of the gory details.There's an entire inventory of everything that had been found in the house, an assessment of how many bodies there were, an extensive listing of comparable serial killings, a commentary by a college professor in Boston, a psychologist at a state mental hospital in Chicago and a criminologist in San Francisco, and reports about the suspect's childhood.All this was written, gathered, printed and distributed in less than one hour?!?!?!If you've ever watched the news in the immediate aftermath of a big story, you know that the first few hours are completely incoherent and rife with speculation and guess-work, but there is no way that all of that detail could be released in one hour.

Later, our hero is returning from a trip.His flight touches down in Milwaukee at "quarter to seven."He decides to drive back to town instead of waiting for the next flight.He rents a car and starts to drive.He drives for a while, then "fifteen miles farther," it starts getting dark, and "a little while after that," fog starts up.Traffic "crawled along at thirty miles an hour" after that.He finally reaches his exit, and then it takes half an hour to reach the airport (where his own car is parked).At 7:30, he finds the rental-car space.It was 45 minutes from touch-down at the Milwaukee airport until he parks his car at the next airport.Really?Why would anybody ever fly between the two airports if you could drive it in 45 minutes even in a thick fog?

Then right after that, he drives away from the airport, only to find he's being followed.He is terrorized on the highway by the other driver.There's a fairly long sequence of maneuvers and contacts.He finally gets off the highway at an exit and gets out to look at the damage.He leans against the car and catches his breath "for a while."He looks around and realizes that he's "twenty minutes from Livermore Avenue," which is where he's heading.So he gets in the car and drives there.As he approaches his destination, he looks at his watch and he's "surprised to see that it was ten to eight."I was surprised, too, since he just left the airport 20 minutes ago, had all this stuff happen to him, then drove for 20 minutes.

Later still, our hero is in the hospital.His friend visits him, and our guy asks him to arrange airline tickets "for the day after tomorrow."The "next morning," he talks to another friend.That same friend comes back again "the next day."This should now be "the day after tomorrow" that the airline tickets should be arranged for.The friend who was making the flight arrangements then comes to visit and says, "I'll see you tomorrow when you come around to get your things."Did he not make the arrangements for the right day?

These represent only the most egregious of these errors, but there were other minor ones, too.It may all seem terribly nit-picky, but it represented a horrible distraction to me.I would constantly be thinking, "Wait, that can't be right," and going back and figuring out that indeed, it wasn't right.

4-0 out of 5 stars Review...
"I realized atlast that the thought of seeing Millhaven again filled me with dread.Millhaven and Vietnam were oddly interchangeable, fragments of some greater whole, some larger story -- a lost story that preceded the fables of Orpheus and Lot's wife and said:You wil lose everything if you turn around and look back.You turn around, you look back.Are you destroyed?Or is it that you see the missing, unifying section of the puzzle, the secret, filled with archaic and godlike terror, you have kept from yourself."

In this searing novel of psychological terror.Tim Underhill, the haunted Vietnam vet-hero of Koko, courts ultimate destruction as he dares to look back to a dark past that holds the secret of the evil which signs its name Blue Rose.

Tim Underhill has been summoned to Millhaven,the site of old crimes now plagued by new demons, by his childhood friend, John Ransom.After decades of silence, it appears that the Blue Rose killer has struck again -- brutally murdering John Ransom's wife, April.Ransom enlists Tim Underhill's help in uncovering the true identity of this madman who was supposed to be dead, having committed suicide over 40 years ago . . . Millhaven's resident sleuth, the brilliant and reclusive Tom Pasmore, last seen in the pages of Peter Straub's novel Mystery, comes out of apparent retirement to assist his friend Tim Underhill, and the two men are drawn into a dark labyrinth of lies and deceit, each turn punctuated by jolting shocks that reveal connections between the tantalizingly mysterious Green Woman Taproom and the elusive truths buried inthe steaming jungles of Vietnam . . . between the peaceful surface of everyday life and the secret shame that seethes below.

The Throat is Peter Straub's ultimate thriller, his most powerful book to date.Brilliantly executed, it tightens the screws of suspense as it toy with our expectations and primal fears.This harrowing novel strikes resonant psychological chords and demonstrates a literary mastery that has never been more dazzling.It confirms Peter Straub as one of America's premier writers of profoundly terrifying fiction.

3-0 out of 5 stars Would be twice as good if it were three times shorter
Author Tim Underhill, who has appeared (sometimes) in the two previous books of the Blue Rose trilogy, returns to his hometown to help an old acquaintance from Vietnam.John Ransom's wife has been murdered in a manner reminiscent of a killer from the past, who may also have been responsible for the killing of Underhill's sister.In collaboration with Ransom and amateur sleuth Tom Pasmore, Underhill peeks beneath the skin of a Midwestern town to expose the corruption festering there.

This novel is difficult to review.Peter Straub is undeniably a fine writer with a lot to say, but I found myself wishing he had spread this material out over a few books.There is some very good material concerning Underhill's time in Vietnam and some very good material concerning the hunt for the Blue Rose murderer, but neither really seems necessary to the other.In addition, there is a lot of filler that could have been painlessly excised."Koko" remains the pinnacle of this series.

5-0 out of 5 stars What a great ride!!!
If you care not to think when you read a book, or at least not put much thought into it, then you'll not like this book.Peter Straub weaves tale upon tale, and at times he's a little difficult to follow, and on at least a dozen ocassions I had to go back and refresh my memory about characters, places and events.But it's definitely worth the trouble.His style of writing is absolutely wonderful and enjoyable, and I have relished every sentence in this book.Straub is a rare commodity, and with this being only the second book I've enjoyed of his (the other being 'Ghost Story' which was excellent)I look forward to getting into all his work. ... Read more

9. Koko
by Peter Straub
Hardcover: 768 Pages (2010-07-01)
list price: US$195.00 -- used & new: US$122.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1933618558
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

This is a tremendously beautiful and oversized edition of Peter Straub's classic novel of the Vietnam War, with fifteen full–page exquisite wood engravings by artist Howie Michels. This edition also features a fine afterword by Laird Barron and is handsomely bound, with a top-edge stain, ribbon marker, special endsheets, and other extras. Limited to three hundred numbered copies, each one signed by Peter Straub, Howie Michels, and Laird Barron.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (41)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Good Mystery
This is as much a war novel as a mystery, as many of the flashback scenes depict war at its worst. Harrowing scenes in some cases. Out of the war comes Koko, a serial killer who is unknown but who is suspected by Mike Poole and others in his 'Nam platoon to be Mr. Underhill. Prodded by Harry Beevers who thinks they can make money by solving the Koko mystery and then selling the story to a publisher a few ex-soldiers start seeking out Underhill. Lots of suspense and unlike "Ghost Story" which (in my opinion) did not succeed in holding a reader's interest throughout, this novel is a page-turner. OK, some scenes are a little forced and there are moments which stretch credulity, but overall a very good and intelligent read.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the best...
This one is a winner in my books. I remember the suspense and the thrills in this book still, it's been at least 2 years ago when I read this!

2-0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately, not a very suspenseful novel
Peter Straub will always be known as the author of "Ghost Story," widely considered one of the scariest novels ever written. That novel was exquisitely crafted, both suspenseful and very well paced, and was actually scary. It's amazing what one novel can do for one's reputation, but reading GS has always led me to read anything Straub releases. Koko, one of Straub's non-supernatural thrillers, seemed like it would be a great read based merely on the premise and the credentials he holds.

The premise of the novel is that four Vietnam veterans reunite 15 years after the war, only to be drawn back into their own personal hell when murders in Southeast Asia are linked to a former member of their platoon. The murderer's calling card is, quite literally, placing a card with the word "Koko" inside of the victim's mouth. The word "Koko" really hits home for the four men, and they believe that that other member of their group from 'Nam, a man named Tim Underhill, is behind the murders.

What follows this great premise is a highly confusing and overall dull attempt at suspense. Much of the way Straub writes this book was meant to really make it difficult to discern between what's real and what is merely hallucination, much like the characters are going through; however, when the reader of the book becomes confused at many points during the plot, any attempt at suspense has essentially been lost. Even the points where Straub lets us look at the world from "Koko's" perspective are rather dull and really don't add to the plot.

Straub, unfortunately, has a knack for writing too much when is really unnecessary, and that seems to hamper this novel quite a bit. While the characters are well thought out and easy to empathize with at points, the muddled, overly lengthy way Straub tries to rope us into the complex plot fails miserably and ultimately yields a novel that is devoid of any real suspense and is extremely difficult to finish.

4-0 out of 5 stars The devastation of war
Not all memories from their time in Vietnam are fully understood by the four war veterans who gather for a reunion held at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. Michael Poole invited Tina Pumo, Conor Linklater and Harry Beevers to join him and share stories of the time they battled in the same platoon. But that's not all they will talk about. The Stars and Stripes magazine recently ran an article on a series of ritualistic murders in the Far East. All of the victims had their eyes and one ear removed, but more significantly: a special playing card was slipped in their mouth. On the card each time one word was written: KOKO. This name has haunted the four veterans since they left Vietnam and is now going to completely change their lives once more.

Whereas the bibliography of Peter Straub mainly consists of supernatural thrillers, Koko is one of his most ambitious diversions from the genre. It not only reads like a great psychological thriller, it also creates a atmosphere that draws the reader very effectively into a grim and depressing post-war trauma. It sounds amazing that Peter Staub himself is not a war veteran, because it really reads like he has been there and experienced all that crazy stuff that happened during this bizarre war. The pacing of the novel is a bit uneven where you have to endure some really big and thought heavy chapters to reach just a few suspense filled pages. In a way the story is not the main driver of Koko, it is the slow, creepy ghost of the devastation that jumps you at the gullet. Maybe in that respect it still is a supernatural thriller.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre mystery novel
I picked up this book after reading a much better book by Straub, " A Ghost Story". I was really let down by how little this book grabs you.Really. At best its a decent mystery novel. In this book Straub gives the reader little reason to care about what the ending holds.Seeing how most reviews of this book here are pretty positive, i guess i will have to file this under "to each his own," but let me say this: I was perusing the rave review blurbs that are often put in decently successful paperback novels, and this critic emphasizes how this novel, more than just about any other, has an unguessable ending. BS. The twist is put out there, in the first chapter, right under you nose so blatantly its not even funny. "Hmmmmm, i didn't even know that his first name was Manuel." ... Read more

10. The Green Woman
by Peter Straub, Michael Easton
Hardcover: 160 Pages (2010-10-12)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$12.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1401211003
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
New York Times best-selling author Peter Straub resurrects his most sinister creation, Fielding “Fee” Bandolier, the unstoppable serial killer last seen in Straub’s bestseller The Throat. Aging and tired of a life devoted to death, Fee is preparing to end his long career of bloodshed. Bob Steele is a disillusioned New York detective out for redemption and to him redemption means a one-man crusade to stop Fielding Bandolier. Steele’s father cruelly named him after a Hollywood cowboy hero. The name has been a curse because Bob has very little hero in him. But he’s going to give it one last try. Cop and killer fi nally face off in a mysterious midwestern pub, “The Green Woman Tavern.” And in that abandoned place, an unspeakable evil stronger than either of them lies waiting to seal the fates of both men. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Macabre masterpiece
The bravery of a hero.The savagery of a psychotic killer.This classic conflict between the hero and the heinous criminal has formed the basis of comic books and graphic novels since their beginnings.However,in The Green Woman graphic novel, written by Peter Straub and Michael Easton, illustrated by John Bolton,the line between hero and fiend is, at times, very tenuous.As Jules, one of the characters in the book, perceptively points out , "It's easier to destroy the good inside than it is to fight the bad that's all around you."The central conflict of this graphic novel, as with many classic works of literature, is between the good and evil aspects of the soul, represented here by the characters Fielding Bandolier, war hero turned serial killer, and Bob Steele, the brave alcoholic cop tormented by his inner phantoms,One confronts the darkness within and either becomes engulfedby it or manages to subdue it.But the darkness never completely goes away.It lurks in the foundations of the psyche, manifesting also as an evil presence haunting and possessing buildings, such as the Green Woman and the Black Galleon pubs featured in the story.It assumes the power of an obsession, a violent consuming hallucination which summons all the darkest regions of the subconscious.It becomes a devouring demon demanding obedience and carnage.
Fans of Peter Straub's horror works, such as Ghost Story, as well as those of Michael Easton's graphic novel Soul Stealer series should find The Green Woman equally engrossing. One does not need to be familiar with either author's writings, however, to be swept up in this compelling,macabre, witty yet disturbing work.John Bolton's illustrations brilliantly capture the grime, gore, and eerie, mesmerizing beauty of the Green Woman's realm of madness.With its jarringly skewed perspectives and cinematic vistas of action-packed mayhem, Bolton thrusts the reader into the midst of the inferno.
Reading the book, I am reminded of Coppola's Apocalypse Now and that film's literary progenitor, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.As in that film and book, the Green Woman depicts the psychological journey into the abyss of the soul, the place where opposites such as light and dark, good and evil, blur, transforming the hero into the monster, while offering the choice of redemption to the one in search of the insane enigma.Can Bob Steele capture the Kurtz-like Fielding Bandolier, or will he himself be swallowed up in the darkness?Will the war within end up in victory or in damnation?Only the mirrored mirage into which both hero and monster look knows the answer to the purgatorial quest.

5-0 out of 5 stars "The Green Woman" Straub, Easton, and Bolton take the reader on a hair-raising adventure!
I could not wait to get my hands on the new graphic novel "The Green Woman" written by best selling award winning author Peter Straub, and my favorite actor and writer Michael Easton, author of the critically acclaimed "Soul Stealer" trilogy, and illustrated by John Bolton.With those 3, this packs a powerful punch, and stimulates the senses in so many ways at once, I was unable to put it down until I finished!The art is so thrillingly beautiful whether it's the sexy women, the locations and settings, the ruggedly handsome and/or ugly good guys and bad guys at different stages, the scariest visions and ghosts, or the most gory murders and Vietnam war scenes; you will be amazed at John Bolton's always gorgeous paintings on every page!

Michael Easton has made me a fan of graphic novels, after my reading them the first times when I got his "Soul Stealer" series and became captivated by the merging of art and literature that he and Christopher Shy did so well with Easton's love story, combined with battles through the ages, and Shy's unique art style beautifully illustrating the love and pain of those characters.When I learned Michael was doing another graphic novel with legendary horror novelist Peter Straub, I could not wait to see what that might bring to the genre!Now, I'd like to see all Peter Straub's novels with graphics to go with the amazing stories!In this one, fans can see the two writers' talents, styles and specialties merged for something to savor like never before!

Straub and Easton have written the ending to Straub's Fielding "Fee" Bandolier character, a long time serial killer, pursued this time by detective Bob Steele, named after a cowboy movie star.Steele is a damaged detective, with good instincts, who drinks and hooks up with women, accidentally marrying one in Atlantic City, Jules, who turns out to be a good mate for him in spite of all the wildness.Bob Steele is on the case of a so-called virgin killer who kills young women and dresses them in white.In Steele's chase, he finds the virgin killer in Ireland at a pub that just happens to be made of wood from the same ship that the wooden green woman, in The Green Woman bar back in the US, came from, that's the haunted hang out of the aged Fee who's got a wannabe serial killer successor named Billy who comes to the deserted old bar as well.The evil entity, that talks to Fee in the old midwestern bar of bad guys from 100 years back, where he sees and hears his victims over the years, even has an evil supernatural effect on Bob Steele, across the ocean in the Irish pub, where it also talks to Steele.On the former ship, where the wood from the Irish pub originated, the shipmates had gone insane and murdered each other.Detective Steele's supernaturally altered Ireland actions got him some time off, until he was called by his former partner about the murder of an Asian woman, reminiscent of Fee's slaughtered yet beloved wife in Vietnam, that leads him to Fee in a spectacular finale.

I cannot imagine any fan of Straub's or Easton's missing out on this blood-tingling dark adventure of stories within stories so masterfully written!As a decade long fan of Easton's, I was delighted by references from names in Easton's life and career, lines from his "One Life to Live" character, as well as "Soul Stealer", and a line with the title of his poetry collection.It's a fun read just catching those, add the intricate detective mystery and horror aspects of this story, and it's a perfect indulgence, especially now at Halloween.I actually thought I might save my copy for a haunting Halloween read, but once I opened it, there was no way to resist!

Straub and Easton dedicated this novel to Robert S. Woods, their great friend who portrays Bo Buchanan on "One Life to Live".Having been a fan of Robert S. Woods since I was 16, I was moved by the dedication, and even that made me have to halt everything and read this book!I think one of their reasons for the tribute, besides love of a dear friend, is probably that Bob is a Vietnam War hero, and they did a great story with amazing illustrations by Bolton from when Fee was a sinister soldier in the Vietnam War.Also, Robert, as Bo Buchanan, has been working on compelling murder mysteries for quite some time on the daytime drama "One Life to Live"!

All in all, the 3 geniuses involved in making the "The Green Woman" have a 5 star work of art here that I hope gets turned into a 5 star movie one day.With the graphic novels, as I first realized from Easton's "Soul Stealer: Book One", you get all the benefits of a great movie, and the pleasure of actively participating in the experience.It would take more phenomenal brilliance to ever make a movie as good as this graphic novel.In the meantime, I highly recommend reading "The Green Woman" for a wicked thrill ride like none other!

5-0 out of 5 stars The only word that comes to mind is amazing
Hi Michael,I just finished reading The Green Woman and it was amazing.You and Peter blew me away with this one and John Bolton's artwork is mesmerizing.Great job.I hope you and Peter write together again soon.
... Read more

11. The Hellfire Club
by Peter Straub
Mass Market Paperback: 544 Pages (1997-06-29)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$0.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345415000
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
--The New York Times

They are dying, one by one. Wealthy, middle-aged women in an exclusive Connecticut suburb. Their murderer remains at large. Nora Chancel, wife of publishing scion Davey Chancel, fears she may be next. After all, her past has branded her a victim . . . .

--The Washington Post

Then Davey tells Nora a surreal story about the Hellfire Club, where years before he met an obsessed fan of Chancel House's most successful book, Night Journey--a book that has a strange history of its own. . . .

--San Francisco Chronicle

Suddenly terror engulfs Nora: She must defend herself against fantastic accusations even as a madman lies in wait. And when he springs, she will embark on a night journey that will put her victimhood to rest forever, dead or alive. . . .Amazon.com Review
Straub's recent series of books, while excellent, have beendense and rather cerebral as horror books go.This one, whileemploying many of the same devices about family secrets and mysterieshalf-buried in the past, has an action storyline with a viscerallysatisfying villain and a strong female protagonist.The premise isthat the history of a famous fantasy novel not only concerns someeccentric authors, but collides with a wily killer on a rampage. Thesettings--in seedy motel rooms, New England houses, a bizarreprivate club and an over-the-hill literary retreat--are especiallyfun. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (51)

3-0 out of 5 stars Peter Straub strikes again with The Hell Fire Club
I only recently read The Hellfire Club, and as usual, Straub's style did not disappoint me. His written is articulate, and he creates very interesting characters, indeed. However, one must be careful to stay on top of all the different elements that constantly shift and change, as Straub handles this with ease and perfection.
He is a master of mystery; The Hellfire Club will keep you thinking, wondering right up to the end. And along the way, you will walk with some very intersting characters, especilly the illustrious Dick Dart. He will carry you into some very odd situations.
Moreover, if you are a fan of Peter Straub, you will not be disappointed. If you are not, you soon will be. If circumstance allows, pick up a copy. And read on...

David Rhodes, Author of The Ritual and Risen

5-0 out of 5 stars Great!
I really loved the book that i bought from this seller. The book was in perfect condition and the seller mailed it in no time. Thank You!

1-0 out of 5 stars Good technique, but lacking everything else.
I can tell from this book that the author is talented at weaving a tale, but this book was just terrible. Good technique cannot save this story.

None of the characters in the book are well-developed. The author did not create any attachment to the main character, which is a fatal blunder.

Most of The Hellfire Club is filler. There is too much detail, and too many parts that could have been left out without affecting the plot. The only salvageable parts of this book are the parts with the villain. This novel is 463 pages long, yet it easily could have been around 200 pages.

After reading The Hellfire Club, I was left scratching my head. It is not scary nor suspenseful. The book is simply boring. I had much difficulty finishing this book, and I admit I had to speed-read through at least 150 pages.

I'm very glad I did not purchase this book, and I recommend that you do not waste your time with it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dick Dart, the villain, is wickedly twisted.
It's a little slow in the beginning & didn't reach out & grab me until I read maybe 100 pages, however once it got going, I couldn't put it down. The the mystery is intriguing, the action is suspenseful & the humor is dark. It's filled w/ interesting subplots that are all woven together nicely.

The characters are nicely developed.Maybe the villain, is a bit "over the top," but what a villain!

My main complaint is or should say what disappointed me was...the title.All while reading I was just waiting for the club (The Hellfire Club) to fit in. However, The Hellfire Club really didn't seem to have much to do with anything.Oh well, still an enjoyable read.

Just a note...Some people might not care for the graphic descriptions.

5-0 out of 5 stars I like a nice knife
For me, Peter Straub's most interesting phase was the Blue Rose short stories and novels (including "The Buffalo Hunter") which culminated in The Hellfire Club. Don't get me wrong, The Hellfire Club doesn't belong to the Blue Rose series, but coming after it, is able to utilise its dense and imagistic style. The Hellfire Club is the best type of experimentation - it's a great story which also creates a series of stories-within-stories in an absolutely authentic way. So Straub is able to ventriloqise a Djuna Barnes-style poetry in "Unwritten Words", mimics a frustrated housewife's gargantuan roman a clef written partly on hotel stationary and bar coasters from around the world, and most pivotally creates a pastiche of Lord of the Rings in a "talking trees" fantasy trilogy which inspires insane cult devotion and a whirlpool of litigation and pre-Internet Internet-style exegesis. It's also the best serial killer novel that doesn't feature Hannibal Lecter. The more I try to explain this book, the more convoluted I seem to make it. But it's hilariously funny, deadly serious, deeply emotional, scathingly satirical, is a fantastic mystery with an endangered and endearing female amateur sleuth (think Rosemary's Baby - piecing together a tapestry of clues while in extreme danger), and has some beautiful and lyrical descriptive writing that makes scenes spring to life. While Hellfire Club sets up its main characters in the first hundred pages, and we grow to know and like Nora Chancel, the book goes completely ballistic when Nora is kidnapped by Dick Dart, a DIY surgeon (he's not a serial killer - that's libellous talk!) with some refreshing and not altogether wholesome social philosophies. When Dart first explodes on the scene, there is a long section of the novel which I think is one of Mr Straub's most incredible achievements. ... Read more

12. Pork Pie Hat
by Peter Straub
Hardcover: 175 Pages (2010-10-05)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$12.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1587672324
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Passionate about jazz, the narrator dicovers that one of his greatest heroes, a saxophonist by the name of Pork Pie Hat, is still alive and playing at a club he frequents. Granted an interview by the Hat, the narrator gets a night of extraordinary stories from a man dying of alcoholism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Seasonal Tale for Halloween
This little book was a quick read. Peter Straub's style of writing makes whatever story he is telling move right along (even if it's as convoluted and confusing as Dark Matter).

I can't really talk about this book without giving away the story. All I can say is read carefully. I can mention that you will feel like you are there at the club listening to Hat perform. You will also feel like you are right there with Hat and his friend on that fateful Halloween night so many years ago.

For a white guy from Wisconsin Straub paints a convincing picture of the life black people had in Mississippi back during segregation. I suppose that is to be expected from such an artful storyteller.

Get this little book now and read it before Halloween for maximum effect. You will spend an pleasant evening though with it even if you read it in December. ... Read more

13. Mr. X
by Peter Straub
Mass Market Paperback: 544 Pages (2000-07-05)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$0.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449149900
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Every year on his birthday, Ned Dunstan is cursed with visions of horror committed by a savage figure he calls "Mr. X." This year, Ned's visions will become flesh and blood.

A dreadful premonition brings Ned home to find his mother on her deathbed. She reveals the never-before-disclosed name of his father and warns him of grave danger. Driven by a desperate sense of need, Ned explores his dark past and the astonishing legacy of his kin. Accused of violent crimes he has not committed and pursued by a shadowy twin, Ned enters a hidden world of ominous mysteries, where he must confront his deepest nightmares. . . .
Amazon.com Review
Peter Straub's Mr. X is an enthralling, complex tale ofa decent young man troubled since childhood by barely understoodflashes of precognition and an awareness of a shadowy "other."

NedDunstan returns home to Edgerton, Illinois, a raffish and atmosphericMississippi River city, as his mother, Star Dunstan, liesdying. Impelled to trace his tangled paternal lineage after Star'sdeath, Ned finds himself caught up in a web of murder and otherheinous crimes, not only in the present but also in a past that hiselderly great aunts Nettie, May, and Joy would prefer remainedundisturbed. The aunts, whose remarkable gifts include teleportationand telekinesis, frustrate his search for knowledge, partly to protecttheir own secrets and also to shield Ned from the mysterious andomnipresent force that seems to dodge his every step. He is aided inhis efforts to discover the mysteries of his birth by a dopplegangerwho may or may not be his twin, and also by a lovely young woman,Laurie Hatch. She is the estranged wife of Stewart Hatch, an Edgertonscion whose own history is inexorably linked with Ned's and with theentire Dunstan family.

The secondary characters, from the elderlyaunts to a lawyer named Creech who is the essence of the small-town"fixer," are deftly drawn. --Jane Adams ... Read more

Customer Reviews (90)

3-0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly intriguing yet ultimately frustrating
Peter Straub is an extremely talented writer; with this statement I'm sure few will disagree. However, he has a certain tendency to force this talent down everyone's throats when he writes a novel; case in point, Mr. X.

Mr. X is full of plot twists, annoying (albeit rather interesting) characters, and the sure signs of a very gifted writer. Unfortunately, that just didn't cut it for this book. In Mr. X, the main character, Ned, has been consistently affected by "fits" on his birthday since he turned 3, involving a murderous man referred to (by Ned) as Mr. X. From the very beginning of the novel, the actions are hard to follow and the characters are rather difficult to keep track of; what is certain, from reading the novel from Ned's perspective and Mr. X's perspective, is that Mr. X has been trying to get Ned since his 3rd birthday, and is oh so close at the start of the novel.

The novel leads the reader through the world seen from the eyes of Mr. X, himself, and Ned; the "diary" entries from Mr. X are ludicrous to say the least, and sound like the babblings of a man on the brink of insanity, as I'm sure was the point. The goings on with Ned deal with his oddball family, his escapades with two beautiful women and an interesting court case, his reintroduction to an old family member, and his fear of his upcoming birthday (among other strange things). The premise of the novel and the praise it received truly helps push the intrigue factor sky high, and was the main reason I kept reading the book.

In hindsight, Mr. X is an extremely complex novel by one of the genre's finest authors; however, the various plot shifts, the annoying characters, and the confusing complexities make this a truly hard novel to enjoy thoroughly. Straub never really explains why Ned's family is the way they are; are they just oddballs, do they really have powers??? He never really answers the questions that are certain to be asked throughout the novel. While he certainly has a knack for creating intrigue in all of his books, this is one of those cases where nothing particularly thrilling or suspenseful happens to maintain interest. The only point of interest is that the ending does create more questions rather than supplying the necessary answers. So, in conclusion, anyone looking for a scary or suspenseful novel should pass on this one.

Final rating: 2.5*/5*

3-0 out of 5 stars Should have been great, but...
Along with 'Houses without Doors', 'Mr X' is disappointing in comprison to Straub benchmarks such as 'Koko', 'Ghost Story','The Throat', etc.

As a fan of Straub's work and Lovecraftian fiction, I was particularly looking forward to this, but for me it was a disappointment and in the end a frustrating read.

Difficult to pinpoint the exact reason (s), but I think there were too many plot threads running through the book and they didn't quite fit together or resolve properly. I found myself continually having to page back through the book to remind me of the context of a particular character or situation - Straub's books are usuallly compulsive page-turners, but in a forward direction!

Readable but nowhere near Straub's best work.

2-0 out of 5 stars Fans of Lovecraft LIKE revulsion, right?
I just finished it, and feel relief. I hate to leave things unfinished, especially when I've given them so many second chances. It's blue-collar doesn't match the money from the sky, or the shadow out of time.

This book was recommended by my beloved paperback eating machine of a grandmother, likely because she knows I like creepy stuff, not because I'm well-read.

The content is fun enough, for an 80s story that wants us to believe it's a 90s story, but the style begs so desperately for the 'clever yet not pretentious' badge that it ends up less than pretentious, merely pedestrian.

Two stars instead of one because it wasn't bad for its ilk, two instead of three because it wan't as good as it thought it was.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book that makes you think
I've always liked Lovecraft stories, but Poe's poetry has always seemed slightly boring to me.Somehow Straub has melded the two and I think Mr. X is a masterpiece.After reading all of the Tim Underhill and Tom Passmore related books, I decided it was time to read Mr. X and I was not disappointed.

I haven't stopped thinking about this book since I finished it. Ned Dunstan has an odd assortment of relatives that range from a homicidal maniac to deformed cripples with birth defects to kleptomaniacs with enhanced mental powers.It's hard to figure out if the narrator is Ned or his "brother".He may possibly have a split personality. I plan on reading it again to see if I missed a few clues.

1-0 out of 5 stars Do not waste your money!!!
I was determined to finish this book.Eventhough, it wasthe most hard to follow, confusing and BORING book that I have ever read!It is definitely not a page turner. I was not thrilled, horrified or left in suspense.I kept on reading in the hope it would all come together and make sense.That never happened. ... Read more

14. A Special Place: The Heart of a Dark Matter
by Peter Straub
Paperback: 144 Pages (2010-07-20)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$6.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1605981028
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From the bestselling author of Ghost Story, Shadowland, and The Talisman, a novella-length rumination on the nature of evil.A Special Place, Peter Straub’s first published novella, will come to stand as one of the author’s mostdeeply unsettling works of fiction. A rumination on the nature of evil, the story centers on a boy, Keith Hayward, who is drawn by his nature to an irresistible fascination with death and the taking of life. Hisfather’s brother, the good-looking, suave Uncle Till—the infamous ladykiller, who has led a shadowycareer as a local celebrity—recognizes his nephew’s innermost nature and gleefully tutors him in art ofdoing ill without getting caught.

Even a cold-blooded sociopath must learn some lessons in survival, in seems, and Uncle Till is onlyhappy to provide a tutorial, in the latest imaginative and disturbing work from one of America's mostcelebrated horror writers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very creepy
Uncle Till takes his nephew Keith under his wing . . . unfortunately the uncle is a cold-blooded sociopath. God was this creepy. I'll be thinking about this one for a while.

1-0 out of 5 stars boring waste of time
"A Special Place" was obviously published to buy a new toy or pay off the mortgage. Sadomasochism is pretty stale these days, and the characters are cartoonish.

Your money will be better spent elsewhere. Glad I checked my copy out of the library.

5-0 out of 5 stars Altogether chilling and too real
Well , this one stays with you . It is probably in the " matter of fact " manner in which it is told that reverbrates so deeply . One thing with Straub , you will almost always get something original . Don't know to recommend or not because this one is chilling on deeper levels because of its honesty and straightforwardness approaching a dark matter . If you're a fan of Straub's , as usual , you'll get something fresh and special .

3-0 out of 5 stars A not so special story
Straub has always been one of my all-time favorite authors, with Ghost Story probably in the top ten.I loved Lost Boy, Lost Girl and The Talisman that he co-authored with Stephen King.I've enjoyed most of the others he has written over the years.But A Dark Matter and now "A Special Place" fall flat for me.

First of all, I'm glad I got "A Special Place" through the library rather than paying for it.Not only do I consider the "book" price inflated but the Kindle price (being the same as the "book" price) is exorbitant.There is no way I consider this to be a novella.It is a short story. The version I read starts on page 3, ends on page 122, and has a 11 1/2 page afterword not written by Straub.In addition, the book is printed in very large type.

The story itself is okay; creepy and was actually better than A Dark Matter, all things considered.But I don't know whether I will ever rush out and buy another Straub book hot off the presses like I used to.I just don't trust the quality of the product I will be receiving any more.And that is too bad for all of us horror fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dark Hearts, Twisted Souls
Surgically removed from Peter Straub's novel A DARK MATTER and given life on its own as a novella, A SPECIAL PLACE is a disturbing glance down a lonely corridor to the darkest chamber of the human heart. This isn't a place you want to spend much time, lest the matter-of-fact evil rub off on you and taint your spirit. The gripping narrative is fascinating and that fascination may disturb you and raise uncomfortable questions about yourself. In other words, Straub deftly draws you into the story with little fanfare and leaves you to find your own way out.

Uncle Till is "a satyr, a faun, a devil" and a serial killer with a passion for torture. Nephew Keith Hayward is already well on his twisted way to becoming the fullblown sociopath we see in the novel A DARK MATTER. Uncle Till provides the knife and the inspiration, and Keith simply follows his heart. The centerpiece of horror is the "gift" the boy gives his uncle, and if you've already read A DARK MATTER, then you know what that gift will be, but that won't lessen the coldblooded horror of the act. (The novella deepens Keith Hayward's seemingly selfless act near the end of A DARK MATTER.)

In short, A SPECIAL PLACE is a good place to go if you want to be creeped out by Straub, streamlined and cutting to the bone with a few short strokes. ... Read more

15. Koko
by Peter Straub
 Hardcover: Pages (1988-01-01)

Asin: B002KZDC7Q
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best mysteries I have ever read!
I loved this book the first time I read it, many years ago, and I liked it just as much the second times I read it, many years later.I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries with good twists and surprises and especially if those mystery fans are also interested in the Vietnam War era (although it takes place after the war). For the life of me, I cannot imagine why it is no longer in print.I see that it is described as a book of horror, and I hate horror.I would not call it horror at all, but suspenseful. I ordered several copies online and gave them to friends and family alike.As I already said, this is one of the best mysteries I have ever read.

5-0 out of 5 stars STUNNING AND SCARY AS HELL
This book is one of the few that has managed to keep me - a dedicated reader - up at nights, and as such it is one of the few that I would like to read again.If you can't get a new copy of the novel, do yourself a favor and pick up a used one.If you are a fan of intense, intelligent horror you owe yourself a reading of this great work.

As a man too young to serve in the Vietnam War but being a history buff, I think that this novel - combined with DEAR AMERICA:Letters Home From Vietnam - is the closest I will ever come to experiencing what some poor veterans have suffered through.

This is not kids horror a la TWILIGHT ... this is the real deal.Get ready to get scared. ... Read more

16. If You Could See Me Now
by Peter Straub
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2000-07-05)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345438671
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
One summer night, a boy and his beautiful cousin plunge naked into the moonlit waters of a rural quarry. Twenty years later, the boy, now grown, flees the wreckage of his life and returns to Arden, Wisconsin, in search of everything he has lost.

But for Miles Teagarden, the landscape he had known so well has turned eerie and threatening. And the love he shared has become very, very deadly . . .

... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Another typical Straub.
Not too memorable, I can't remember what it was about. It was good enough to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Haunting the present
Peter Straub's best fiction can be summed up as someone committs a crime (generally against a woman) sometime in the past and then that victum becomes a ghost who haunts her tormentors after 20 or more years. The people involved with the crime have by that time grown up and attempted to distance themselves from the act. But they don't really get away as mysterious and strange things plague them just as they think they have gotten away. Its what made his masterpiece, Ghost Story, work so well. But it took some time and other novels before Ghost Story could be written and If You Could See Me Now, is an example of a stepping stone in the right direction. The first novel, Straub wrote, using his classic ghost theme was Julia followed by If You Can See Me Now and both together show how he has progressed.
If You Can See Me Now is about Miles Teagarden, a middle aged, English professor, who decides to leave the city to wrote his dissertation in the quiet rural town of his childhood. That's when the fun starts.
The closer Miles gets to Arden, Winconsin, things begin to go wrong.
When he finally arrives in his hometown, no one wants him there. His childhood friends who have all grown up and are well established in careers want nothing to do with him. His cousin who allows him to live in his grandmother's old house to write, is hostile to him. That hostility grows and increasing as the novel prgresses. In a way it does make sense, in that certain country towns have this suspicion of new folks, even people returning to revisit their childhood, and sometimes make trouble.
Straub exploits this point to the max as everyone in Arden turns on Miles. He can barely go into the bar and ordered a drink before the owner is ordering him to get out. Its bad enough to have an entire town hate you but when a certain ghost comes to haunt him, it does get worse.
This is a fast paced entertaining novel that really picks up in the last 40-pages. Reading the ending, I wanted to yank the phone cord from the wall jack and shut myself off from the world. Straub paints realistic characters and builds suspense and mystery that have you wanting to know what going to happen next. Before Straub starting writing supernatural novels, he went out and bought the best American and British ghost stories books he could find. You can see his influences and how he modernizes it to suit the latter part of the 21st century. There are elements of H.P. Lovecraft, Henry James, Algernon Blackwood, M.R. James, and even Ambrose Bierce.
As I write this review, the Fall is just starting and the time is right for scary stories late at night.

5-0 out of 5 stars imagin if you made a bet with a friend
to meet each other in 20 to 30 years know matter what you or they were doing.No matter what.You would see each other on this day this time.Nothing will stop you.Now suppose your friend died.That would pretty much stop things don't you think? Not in this storie.
Read it.That good

4-0 out of 5 stars An Ice-Cold Head Trip From My Past
There are books you read and forget as soon as you're done with them, and there are books you never forget. Rarer still are the books that haunt you for a lifetime. If You Could See Me Now is, for me, one such book.

I was first given a copy of this short, rapid-paced genre novel in high school by a friend who has since passed away. He was heading back up to college at the time and putting some of his books in storage for the year and when he came across this one, he said to me, "Read this, Ellie, but don't let it screw with your mind." I thought he was kidding around; a book screw with MY mind? Ha, as if, right? But, no, this book is dark. And it got to me in a way many others simply could not have done. The tragedies at its core, loss and the effect of that loss on the central character, represent probably the deepest of the negative themes out there in literature, as well as in life. In this book, Mr. Straub does a great job of holding down a sense of mystery-via-confusion and we alternate between wondering about the odd events in the present of the novel (set in rural Wisconsin in the summer of 1975) and the abrupt end to the more straightforward description (set in the same place in 1955) at the start of the work. Some have said they saw the revelation coming at about the 2/3 point of the novel but I didn't and I remember I stopped in mid-sentence and felt stunned. And sad. Very sad. I recall thinking: I didn't want it to be that way...

See, okay, granted this wavering novel of unequal merit is a genre story penned by a man most known for his ghost stories, but until it makes up its mind what direction it wants to go, this works as an extremely engrossing study of the behavior of an inexplicably neurotic and haunted main character. The characterizations,and the emotions these characters feel, are as realistically cast as those of any men and women from "serious" literature.

This book holds meaning to me for the personal history I touched-on at the start of this review, but it is also a book with a story that deserves more readers than it's had, being overshadowed as it is by some of Straub's later, more well-received works, such as Ghost Story and his collaborations with Stephen King. I gave it four stars instead of five for several reasons, the most glaring of which is the annoying ending Straub imposes after the contortions of plot that kept me rapt through the first two-thirds of the story. Trailing after the gloomy depression this psycholgical study left in me when I read it a dozen years ago, was a feeling of accute frustration that this novel I cared about was ended in the way it was. I was ticked off and I'm guessing you will be, too. Still, my advice, if you want to spend a week reading a dark tale of obsessive youthful love gone very wrong, read this. With apologies to Peter Straub, forget the superficial elements of horror that come late in this psychological mystery and concentrate on the first 200 pages. This book works as a carefuly unfolded story of love, loss, and grief. If he had left it as that in its final third, If You Could See Me Now would go down as his masterpiece instead of a mild letdown.

3-0 out of 5 stars MILES TO GO
Miles Teagarden, the narrator and focal character, in Straub's early "If You Could See Me Now" is one mixed up guy.At times, you have to wonder if he's got all his cookies; but in some ways, that's what makes this book an eerie, if not classic, thriller.Straub is a wonderful writer, and even though at times, he gets too wordy, he sets a very suspenseful mood, and keeps an impending sense of doom permeating the novel.
When Miles returns to the scene of a horrifying "accident" after twenty years, we wonder when and if his beloved Allison will keep the vow she made those many years ago.If you've read a lot of this type of book, you pretty much know what the big revelation will be halfway through the book.Once you find that out, the story loses a little of its punch and the rest of the time, Miles is involved in finding out whodunit, although it's pretty obvious who did!At any rate, the novel moves along rather nicely, but the ending seems somewhat rushed, and the murderer's identity is something that is obscure and not fully fleshed out.Overall, though, if you are a Straub fan, this book fits nicely in your library, although "Ghost Story" and "Floating Dragon" are his best works.
RECOMMENDED. ... Read more

17. American Fantastic Tales:Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps (Library of America)
by Peter Straub
Hardcover: 750 Pages (2009-10-01)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$18.66
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 159853047X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From early on, American literature has teemed with tales of horror, of hauntings, of terrifying obsessions and gruesome incursions, of the uncanny ways in which ordinary reality can be breached and subverted by the unknown and the irrational. As this pathbreaking two-volume anthology demonstrates, it is a tradition with many unexpected detours and hidden chambers, and one that continues to evolve, finding new forms and new themes as it explores the bad dreams that lurk around the edges-if not in the unacknowledged heart--of the everyday. Peter Straub, one of today's masters of horror and fantasy, offers an authoritative and diverse gathering of stories calculated to unsettle and delight.
This first volume surveys a century and a half of American fantastic storytelling, revealing in its 44 stories an array of recurring themes: trance states, sleepwalking, mesmerism, obsession, possession, madness, exotic curses, evil atmospheres. In the tales of Irving, Poe, and Hawthorne, the bright prospects of the New World face an uneasy reckoning with the forces of darkness. In the ghost-haunted Victorian and Edwardian eras, writers including Henry James, Edith Wharton, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Ambrose Bierce explore ever more refined varieties of spectral invasion and disintegrating selfhood.
In the twentieth century, with the arrival of the era of the pulps, the fantastic took on more monstrous and horrific forms at the hands of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, and other classic contributors to Weird Tales. Here are works by acknowledged masters such as Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, Conrad Aiken, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, along with surprising discoveries like Ralph Adams Cram's "The Dead Valley," Emma Francis Dawson's "An Itinerant House," and Julian Hawthorne's "Absolute Evil." American Fantastic Tales offers an unforgettable ride through strange and visionary realms.

"A stupendous, spellbinding reading experience waitingto be had."-Jonathan Lethem ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome!Fabulous!FANTASTIQUE!!!
I love almost all of the stories in this first volume of American Fantastic Tales edited by Peter Straub.(But, Peter darling, I have to agree with S. T. concerning ye Seabury Quinn tale -- phooey!)I was especially happy to see so many women writers in this first edition, including Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, and some with whom I am completely unfamiliar.To be introduced to authors that I have not read is one of the aspects that makes such a book a real treasure.Too, there are stories of which I have read but have not been able to locate.One such tale is Conrad Aiken's "Mr. Arcularis," and it is sublime.I was very happy to see a tale by August Derleth.Whatever may be said of some of his squamous Cthulhu Mythos stories (which he wrote when very young and with no serious intent), Derleth could write a fine weird tale, and "The Panelled Room" publish'd in this anthology is superb.Some have accus'd Derleth's tale of being a rip-off of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wall Paper," -- which is also included in this volume, & thus a comparison may be made.

There have been some quibbles about choice of tales.S. T. Joshi has ungenerously condemn'd ye choice of what he considers one of H. P. Lovecraft's lousy stories, "The Thing on the Doorstep."Great Yuggoth!The story is FASCINATING!It contains one of Lovecraft's most perverse ideas, the soul of a father ravaging, so to speak, the soul of his daughter; the exchange of a male personality with a female personality; the marriage of a man to a woman who houses within her the soul of another man!From a psychological point of view, the idea of the character of Asenath Waite representing a (perhaps subconscious) portrayal of Lovecraft's Mother and of his wife is intriguing.As a horror story, this eerie nasty yarn is extremely effective.It is uniquely Lovecraftian and its appearance in this anthology is right-on!

I would have chosen a different Bloch story, preferring his fine "The Shadow from the Steeple" or "Return to the Sabbath" or the very odd "Enoch" to the amusing but not substantial "The Cloak."But that's just me.I love this first volume, and it is a book to which I will return time and again.

Now -- if only Mr. Straub cou'd convince The Library of America to publish a second H. P. Lovecraft volume!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good collection of Horror Stories...wait, can I say that?
These volumes offer an immense amount of excellent material in an attractive and durable format and most horror / supernatural fans will have no doubts about snapping these up. There are a few caveats, some typical of Library of America volumes, and several specifically related to Straub's editorial choices but as long as you don't object too strenuously to these small issues, there is no serious impairment to purchase.

First, LoA never allocates enough space for editors. Straub has a wee tiny 3 page intro and a few biographical notes on the authors at the end of each volume, and there is no preface to each story or end notes on thematic topics. This means you the reader have no idea as to why this author or that specific story is included in the volume. Compared to say "The Dark Descent"'s approach, this parsimony is unfortunate and occasionally frustrating. Why for instance is the peculiar and cloying "Golden Baby" in here? How and why is Melville's "The Tartarus of Maids" a "fantastic tale"? Why select the given Lovecraft story over all others in his repertoire? The absence of thematic notes is a bit more annoying here than in a single author collection as the wide-ranging assortment of tales grouped together without explanation or context can seem especially puzzling due to the wide range of moods and styles found here. Anyway, these are minor issues - the appeal of most stories herein is straightforward, and the reader can always do some follow-up research to assess the reputation and impact of a given writer on the horror field..

Second LoA issue - the limited scope and convenience of textual notes. The LoA series never uses actual numbering of notes in text, so the reader has to flip ahead to the endnotes at the rear of the volume whenever he is confronted with a puzzling line of text. The end notes are pretty sparse and limited, so often one will flip to the end and find nothing. The reader soon tires of flipping back and forth, meaning most of the limited number of end notes are never read by the reader. You can look at the endnotes section after reading each story, but at that point getting info on allusions and references made is rather pointless. As suggested, there could probably be some more endnotes here, and those that are here should be properly numbered within the text - the S.T. Joshi approach found in his annotated Lovecraft for Penguin is still the gold standard.

First Straub issue - the usual "colonial cringe" phenomenon found in broadly scoped genre anthologies, where a mediocre piece by a "big name" gets chucked in to the mix to try to elevate the tone of the collection - "oh, look, John Steinbeck wrote a vampire story, let's include it to show that horror isn't the ghetto that the literati say that it is...". From the genre reader's perspective, if Mr. Steinbeck's hypothetical vampire tale is not a particularly good one, its inclusion is not at all worthwhile, and snooty intellectuals are unlikely to rethink their dearly held prejudices about genre work because a big name tried to pay the bills once by writing something supernatural. In the current volume, the works by Melville, Fitzgerald, and Dawson stand out as being both mediocre tales and also square pegs wedged into roundish holes.

Second Straub issue - as with other Straub anthologies ("Poe's Children"), his editorial tastes run to the more erudite and intellectual, so if your tastes run in a more pulpy direction, you may be saddened to see some works excluded and others included. Of the tales included, the pieces by Crane and Bangs are attempts at high-brow cleverness that fall flat, and the Julian Hawthorne piece is surely the most intellectual and arid approach to that old saw, the werewolf story, that could be imagined.

This content complaint would happen with virtually any anthology though, so this is hardly a significant issue. Finally though, bear in mind these tales are probably 90% what might be called "horror" so if you are hoping for jumping frogs or Rip Van Winkle, you are probably going to be disappointed. Calling this "American Horror Stories" or "American Supernatural Tales" would probably have been more honest, but I suppose "Fantastic Tales" is more upscale.

As with all LoA volumes, the binding, print and paper quality are impeccable and these books are heirloom class items that can readily be passed down to one's descendants. Volume I is highly worthwhile and although it could use more editorial material and more detailed notes better integrated into the text, this collection will provide many hours of good reading and even veteran horror buffs (oops, excuse me, fantastic tale connoisseurs) will find more than a few new delights herein.
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18. The Talisman
by Stephen King, Peter Straub
Mass Market Paperback: 768 Pages (2001-07-31)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345444884
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
On a brisk autumn day, a thirteen-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: his father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America–and into another realm.

One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother’s life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more. Let the quest
. . . .
... Read more

Customer Reviews (369)

5-0 out of 5 stars It's worth the trip to the end
I love Stephen King. I think the last 100 pages or so of this book provide one of his best endings. The ending reminds me of The Stand, in terms of scope and grandeur of good against evil. At the same time, I thought that two long sections of the middle portion bogged down. (Although, in fairness, the idea is that the hero is bogged down in these sections, so maybe I was just channelling his frustration too well). I didn't get nightmares from this one, the way I did with It, Salem's Lot, and Needful Things. You can take that as a positive or a negative, depending on whether you view nightmare-inducing as a good thing in his books. I should add that the book was written in 1984 but doesn't feel dated at all.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not King's best; find it at your local library.
I won't write a long review summarizing the plot. I am a big King fan, but this book left me disappointed. The writing was well below his normal level, and it didn't really pull me in like most his books. The plot was laughable and contrived, the characters much less "real" than any other King book I've read. I think that this should either have been a long series (7+ books) to better develop... everything... or half as long as it was to tighten it up.

In summary it is a middling book with a boring plot, uninteresting and hokey characters (Right here right now it's axiomatic!), and probably the worst King book that I've read.

I recommend finding this book at your local library, give it a quick read, and if you like it, borrow it. I can't recommend paying for it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Zippidy do da.
What in the world was I thinking when I titled this review, "zippidy do da", and why give a so so bit of writing 5 stars? I make a point of reading the reviews in order to develop an understanding of why readers consider a book good to read or not, and I've found both King and Straub interesting and fun to read - but not everything they've written of course. "The Talisman" is typical of this genre, epic fantasy adventure, and depending on where your mind is at the time of reading you'll find it anywhere from fantastic to mundane. Although the story which revolves around a young boys adventure at finding the miracle to save his mom is not unlike others, within its pages it contains everything needed to satisfy. The book itself is written well, the characters are easy to believe, and the protagonist is even easier to identify with. The story incorporates novel ideas and offers hope to those in need but whether you as an individual will find the story worth reading truly depends on where your mind is. If you're at a point where seriousness is important then look elsewhere but if you're in the mood for a spine tingling, strap me down full speed ahead adventure then give it a whirl. I liked it and I'd give it anywhere from 3 to 5 stars depending on your frame of mind. Like I said, zippidy do da!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Roller-Coaster Ride of Eeriness and Beauty
The Talisman is one of those rare books in which the main character immediately becomes yourself. Jack Sawyer is a lonely preteen boy: taken out of school to an isolated resort hotel with his dying mother. Then he meets Speedy Parker. The eccentric older man with knowledge of something otherworldly that Jack himself will very soon become acquainted with, whether he likes it or not. When I began to read about Jack's decision to take on the quest of two worlds to find the Talisman, I honestly thought he was somewhat vacuous for leaving his dying mother behind like that all alone when he honestly had no clue what he was up against. As I kept reading though, I began to understand for myself why Jack Sawyer took on this dangerous quest. I won't talk much about that because it would give some things away to the person who hasn't read it yet. But towards the end of the book, I forgot that I thought of Jack as foolish before, because I absolutely fell in love with him. He's the epitome of adventure to every aspiring young boy or girl out there and he's the absolute portrayal of courage and strength.

If you're a Stephen King fan, you'll most definitely love this book. It contains moments of terror, happiness, beauty, drama, and love that all join together to create a great work of literature. Even if you're not a Stephen King fan, the Tom Sawyer character you see in Jack Sawyer is so striking that you'll most likely fall in love with Jack and this book as much as I did.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Talisman
This is the first in a series of LOST books that I plan to read as the final season unfolds.I have always meant to read the books mentioned on LOST so there is no time like the present. While not actually mentioned by the show or read by a character it does fit. This book focuses on a boy named Jack Sawyer who can flip between parallel worlds.Sound familiar?;)

The Talisman is rich in detail, story and off-beat characters.In fact...are we really sure that Peter Straub co-wrote this?Because this reads like pure Dark Tower King.One thing that stood out and maybe should have been retooled was that the character of Wolf was so close to that of Tom Cullen in The Stand.
... Read more

19. American Fantastic Tales Boxed Set
Hardcover: 1500 Pages (2009-10-01)
list price: US$70.00 -- used & new: US$44.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1598530593
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The Library of America presents American Fantastic Tales, an unrivaled two-volume boxed collection of the American Gothic tradition, from Edgar Allan Poe to today's masters of terror and the uncanny­-86 stories in all.

I. Terror and the Uncanny
From Poe to the Pulps
768 pp.

II. Terror and the Uncanny
From the 1940s to Now
744 pp.

Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Robert W. Chambers, Kate Chopin, Lafcadio Hearn, F. Marion Crawford, Ambrose Bierce, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, John Collier, Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, Jack Finney, Shirley Jackson, Paul Bowles, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Vladimir Nabokov, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Isaac Bashevis Singer, John Crowley, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Steven Millhauser, Brian Evenson, Kelly Link, and dozens more.

"An encompassing and essential voyage to the dark side of the moon of American literature and a stupendous, spellbinding reading experience waiting to be had." - Jonathan Lethem ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Service review
Book set was delivered in a timely manner and in excellent condition.In addition, Amazon's cost was considerably lower than Library of America's.

4-0 out of 5 stars This is good stuff !
This is an outstanding collection of american fiction. Almost everyone you would you want to see a weird tale from is there, most with tales that have not been beaten to death in every anthology ever released. My only beef with this set is that the books themselves are smallish in stature more like book club editions in size and the paper stock seems quite thin.With that said if you like the weird tale, you want this collection on your shelf. Each volume collects over 600 pages of short fiction which will keep you turning pages until the small hours of the morning.

5-0 out of 5 stars best collection since the popular library anthology
this is the finest, most comprehensive collection of short spook-writing since the popular library GREAT TALES OF TERROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL. Side by side with well-known work like Charlotte Perkins Gilman's THE YELLOW WALLPAPER and Edith Wharton's AFTERWARD Straub has found wonderful old and forgotten stories, many by women; as you read, the body of work exposes a wider theme, a sense of the common American psyche, which is extraordinary. Anybody who loves spooky stories, and who believes that alternative writing is the real American mainstream, will treasure this set.

5-0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly original in its story selection.
I think I speak for many when I say that some of the the most widely anthologized horror stories are not the authors' best works. "The Repairer of Reputations" is a greater achievement than "The Yellow Sign," and "For the Blood is the Life" surpasses the over-rated "The Upper Berth." "The Jolly Corner" is not only the equal of "The Turn of the Screw," it is deeper and more multi-faceted. (Besides, the latter is too long for inclusion here, hence no "The Willows" or "The Mist.") Furthermore, while Library of America is about the "best," we need to broaden somewhat our often knee-jerk assumptions about what the best is. The conventional wisdom of the canon should not be followed with slavish obeisance. And lastly, an editor in Straub's position should not shackle himself to the standard of "the best" as the uppermost thought in his mind for every story selection, because there are other aims that should be striven for: breadth and scope, some kind of consistency of vision or recurrence of theme (as well as variation), and stories that represent something about the American landscape. An anthology like this is not the same as a collection of a single author's works: one wants the editor to bring a provocative perspective revealed through his story selection, not the least because this anthology is as much about the milieu of American writing as it is about the horror genre. For this reason, the omission of British writers should not be viewed as a weakness. On the contrary, it is liberating, for it allowed Straub to focus on an American Gothic context.And yes, some flat-out curve balls are thrown by Straub in his story selection, although it should be noted that some of his choices have been favored in recent years by other editors over stories that had traditionally been given priority for the better part of a century. Library of America is not just about looking backward but about looking forward as well. I am very happy they didn't release the same old anthology, although, bafflingly, that is what some seem to have wanted. New ground has truly been broken here.

Vol. 1, Contents:
Charles Brockden Brown, "Somnambulism: A Fragment"; Washington Irving, "The Adventure of the German Student"; Edgar Allan Poe, "Berenice"; Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"; Herman Melville, "The Tartarus of Maids"; Fitz-James O'Brien, "What Was It?"; Bret Harte, "The Legend of Monte del Diablo"; Harriet Prescott Spofford, "The Moonstone Mass"; W.C. Morrow, "His Unconquerable Enemy"; Sarah Orne Jewett, "In Dark New England Days"; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper"; Stephen Crane, "The Black Dog"; Kate Chopin. "Ma'ame Pelagie"; John Kendrick Bangs, "Thurlow's Christmas Story"; Robert W. Chambers, "The Repairer of Reputations"; Ralph Adams Cram, "The Dead Valley"; Madeline Yale Wynne, "The Little Room"; Gertrude Atherton, "The Striding Place"; Emma Francis Dawson, "An Itinerant House"; Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, "Luella Miller"; Frank Norris, "Grettir at Thorhall-stead"; Lafcadio Hearn, "Yuki-Onna"; F. Marion Crawford, "For the Blood Is the Life"; Ambrose Bierce, "The Moonlit Road"; Edward Lucas White, "Lukundoo"; Olivia Howard Dunbar, "The Shell of Sense"; Henry James, "The Jolly Corner"; Alice Brown, "Golden Baby"; Edith Wharton, "Afterward"; Willa Cather, "Consequences"; Ellen Glasgow, "The Shadowy Third"; Julian Hawthorne, "Absolute Evil"; Francis Stevens, "Unseen--Unfeared"; F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Seabury Quinn, "The Curse of Everard Maundy"; Stephen Vincent Benet, "The King of the Cats"; David H. Keller, "The Jelly-Fish"; Conrad Aiken, "Mr. Arcularis"; Robert E. Howard, "The Black Stone"; Henry S. Whitehead, "Passing of a God"; August Derleth, "The Panelled Room"; H.P. Lovecraft, "The Thing on the Doorstep"; Clark Ashton Smith, "Genius Loci"; Robert Bloch, "The Cloak"

Vol. 2, Contents:
John Collier, "Evening Primrose"; Fritz Leiber, "Smoke Ghost"; Tennessee Williams, "The Mysteries of the Joy Rio"; Jane Rice, "The Refugee"; Anthony Boucher, "Mr. Lupescu"; Truman Capote, "Miriam"; Jack Snow, "Midnight"; John Cheever, "Torch Song"; Shirley Jackson, "The Daemon Lover"; Paul Bowles, "The Circular Valley"; Jack Finney, "I'm Scared"; Vladimir Nabokov, "The Vane Sisters"; Ray Bradbury, "The April Witch"; Charles Beaumont, "Black Country"; Jerome Bixby, "Trace"; Davis Grubb, "Where the Woodbine Twineth"; Donald Wandrei, "Nightmare"; Harlan Ellison, "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"; Richard Matheson, "Prey"; T.E.D. Klein, "The Events at Poroth Farm"; Isaac Bashevis Singer, "Hanka"; Fred Chappell, "Linnaeus Forgets"; John Crowley, "Novelty"; Jonathan Carroll, "Mr Fiddlehead"; Joyce Carol Oates, "Family"; Thomas Ligotti, "The Last Feast of Harlequin"; Peter Straub, "A Short Guide to the City"; Jeff VanderMeer, "The General Who Is Dead"; Stephen King, "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French"; George Saunders, "Sea Oak"; Caitlin Kiernan, "The Long Hall on the Top Floor"; Thomas Tessier, "Nocturne"; Michael Chabon, "The God of Dark Laughter"; Joe Hill, "Pop Art"; Poppy Z. Brite, "Pansu"; Steven Millhauser, "Dangerous Laughter"; M. Rickert, "The Chambered Fruit"; Brian Everson, "The Wavering Knife"; Kelly Link, "Stone Animals"; Tim Powers, "Pat Moore"; Gene Wolfe, "The Little Stranger"; Benjamin Percy, "Dial Tone"

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection of "literary" horror, with some minor issues
Taken as a whole, these volumes offer about 1,400 pages of American supernatural literature in handsome and durable LoA bindings. If you like horror, and / or are an open-minded literary elitist, there is much to like here.

To reiterate, this is a horror anthology. Maybe 10% of the pieces herein are what may be called fantasy or SF, but even these are generally fairly somber and mature in their mood. No folktales, no Rip Van Winkle, no jumping frogs. Be sure you know what you are getting here.

What's not to like? Just a few items:

1. Editorial notes on content are non-existent. Compared to that other seminal horror anthology of a few decades back (Hartwell's Dark Descent) the Straub collection has little info on the stories herein or why the editor thinks they are worthy. We have basic author bios and that is about it. For the stories that are duds, we readers wonder why ol' Straubie included them, and for the selections included by the more prolific horror authors, we wonder why this piece and not XYZ instead? Understanding the mind of the editor in context is often what separates good anthologies from mediocre ones, and I am not sure if the decision to omit such notes altogether was Straub's decision or LoA policy. In any case, the absence of such text is the major deficiency of this set.
2. Explanatory notes are both too brief and not highlighted in the text. Want to know what that puzzling reference you just read means? Flip all the way to the back of the volume and scan through the page numbers. Find the number? Good, now you know. You didn't? Oh, well, turn back to the story and continue reading. This is standard with LoA volumes, as they evidently figure having note numbers or asterisks in the text (or footnotes) is somehow downscale. Not much explanation is needed for these tales, and this combined with the hit and miss method of notation means the reader will soon learn to ignore the existing endnotes altogether.
3. Minor works by big names. Oh, look, Tennessee Williams wrote a ghost story and Stephen Crane wrote about a canine psychopomp. Whoop de doo. These mediocre pieces are meant to defend the "ghetto" reputation of horror, but horror fans will care less about justification through inclusion of lame tales, and true snobs will not even be reading these volumes in the first place. Slight trifles by famous writers to prove some "cultural cringe" defense are pointless. To be fair, some of the stuff included here by the literati (e.g. Capote & Cheever) is actually excellent.
4. Present Imperfect - in Volume II, Straub arguably includes work by modern "serious" writers which is not especially good and which also slights excellent horror writes practicing in the same period. We get tales by Chabon and Saunders, but nothing by Laird Barron or Dennis Etchison. Yes, Mr. Barron has not been published in The New Yorker, but he is a serious and deeply talented author who is dedicated to the genre supposedly being exemplified by this collection. We also get some "postmodern" work in here by The New Eggheads of Horror, including what can charitably be called fragments by Kiernan & Vandermeer, and a whimsical (though likeable) surrealistic piece by Joe Hill.This stuff isn't terrible, but it means we are missing out on seeing excellent work from the 70s and 80s by more "genre" writers like Ed Bryant, Charles Grant, Karl Edward Wagner, Theodore Sturgeon etc. IMO Straub has made the mistake of thinking that recent quirky postmodern stuff is somehow representative of some massive advance in literature and has slighted the later 20th century in order to showcase 21st Century authors whom he personally knows and likes. As a result, New Yorker subscribers will be somewhat more pleased with Volume II than Datlow fans will.

Those are all my complaints and really they are just fully explained quibbles. A solid 75% of this material is excellent and fully gratifying and the remaining quarter is more subjective and some people may well adore the stories I don't like and / or may have been bored stiff by some of the pieces I would have liked to see included. This is the case with virtually any collection of stories.

For those who like their horror a bit more fully seated within the tradition and scope of the genre, you may prefer Hartwell's Dark Descent if you want to own only one comprehensive anthology. For those who are more experimental minded, and / or those who would consider owning more than one horror anthology, this is a great collection and a pleasant reading experience that will give you many hours of pleasure.
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20. Black House
by Stephen King, Peter Straub
Paperback: 688 Pages (2003-09-30)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$8.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 034547063X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Two of the greatest storytellers of our time join forces to create an epic thriller of unsurpassed power; a twisting, compelling story of a small American town held in the grip of evil beyond all reason.French Landing, Wisconsin. A comfortable, solid middle-American town inhabited by comfortable, solid middle-Americans! and a serial killer.Three children have been lost -- taken by a monster with a taste for child's flesh nicknamed 'The Fisherman' after a legendary murderer. It's all way beyond the experience of the local police, whose only hope lies with ex-detective Jack Sawyer, the man who cracked their last case for them. But, plagued by visions of another world, Jack has retired to this rural retreat precisely to avoid such horrors -- and, having recognized the touch of madness on this case, he's keeping well away.Soon, he'll have no choice. Young Tyler Marshall, left behind one afternoon by his bullying friends, pedals past the local old folks' home and is accosted by a crow. 'Gorg,' it caws, and 'Ty.' What ten-year-old could resist a bird that speaks his name? Not Ty, that's for sure.And as he follows the mysterious crow, he's grabbed by the neck and dragged into a hedge.The Fisherman has made another catch!Amazon.com Review
In the seemingly paradisal Wisconsin town of French Landing, small distortions disturb the beauty: a talking crow, an old man obeying strange internal marching orders, a house that is both there and not quite there. And roaming the town is a terrible fiend nicknamed the Fisherman, who is abducting and murdering small children and eating their flesh. The sheriff desperately wants the help of a retired Los Angeles cop, who once collared another serial killer in a neighboring town.

Of course, this is no ordinary policeman, but Jack Sawyer, hero of Stephen King and Peter Straub's 1984 fantasy The Talisman. At the end of that book, the 13-year-old Jack had completed a grueling journey through an alternate realm called the Territories, found a mysterious talisman, killed a terrible enemy, and saved the life of his mother and her counterpart in the Territories. Now in his 30s, Jack remembers nothing of the Talisman, but he also hasn't entirely forgotten:

When these faces rise or those voices mutter, he has until now told himself the old lie, that once there was a frightened boy who caught his mother's neurotic terror like a cold and made up a story, a grand fantasy with good old Mom-saving Jack Sawyer at its center. None of it was real, and it was forgotten by the time he was sixteen. By then he was calm. Just as he's calm now, running across his north field like a lunatic, leaving that dark track and those clouds of startled moths behind him, but doing it calmly.
Jack is abruptly pulled into the case--and back into the Territories--by the Fisherman himself, who sends Jack a child's shoe, foot still attached. As Jack flips back and forth between French Landing and the Territories, aided by his 20-years-forgotten friend Speedy Parker and a host of other oddballs (including a blind disk jockey, the beautiful mother of one of the missing children, and a motorcycle gang calling itself the "Hegelian Scum"), he tracks both the Fisherman and a much bigger fish: the abbalah, the Crimson King who seeks to destroy the axle of worlds.

While The Talisman was a straightforward myth in 1980s packaging, Black House is richer and more complex, a fantasy wrapped in a horror story inside a mystery, sporting a clever tangle of references to Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, jazz, baseball, and King's own Dark Tower saga. Talisman fans will find the sure-footed Jack has worn well--as has the King/Straub writing style, which is much improved with the passage of two decades. --Barrie Trinkle ... Read more

Customer Reviews (423)

4-0 out of 5 stars Black House Audiobook on Tape is not awesome but adequate
Black House is one of the finest books written by Stephen King and Peter Straub -- and this audiobook is read by Frank Muller, no doubt the finest voice in audiobooks before his tragic accident a few years ago.

Black House is a sequel of sorts of the book Talisman and uses many of the same villians.The Crimson King, who makes appearances in Insomnia and The Dark Tower series is every bit as threatening.The Black House itself was a "black house" and Jack's destination in the Talisman where he fought one of his most heroic battles.

The fidelity is fine on this tape version of the audiobook.The only problem with it is ... well ... it's on tape, which means swapping in and out small audio cassettes, some 15-18 of them in the course of the book.

However you can't beat the price and all of that wonderful narrative is there to explore.

3-0 out of 5 stars What Happened to the Black House?
This book was okay I suppose, but not my favorite of King's. I think "The Talisman" had a better plot and was more well written. The style of writing in this book, especially in the beginning, made it very hard to get into the story. I had to push myself to keep reading. This was definitely one of King's more gruesome and gory works. I haven't read anything of Straub's so I can't speak for his style. Definitely made me cringe a few times. The antagonist "Burny" was one of the most despicable villains I've ever read about, and Jack was a terrific, well-written hero. I loved him from the beginning.

My biggest grievance with this book is What Happened To The Black House?? The entire plot, the whole beginning three/fourths of the book, were a lead-up to when Jack actually gets to Black House. The whole storyline is driven by how Jack will find the house and who he will take with him and what will happen there. And then all the sudden, BAM! The whole gang is there and they are all the way through the house in just a few pages of this LONG book, and there was only ONE or TWO PARAGRAPHS actually describing what happened in the house. For goodness sake, the TITLE of the book is Black House, shouldn't the house have had a bigger part in the story?? That was why I kept reading, to see what was IN the house. Yes, I realize the house was just a gateway to the "other" place, but I just thought the whole last section, "Black House & Beyond," was a bit of a disappointment.

4-0 out of 5 stars Black House
On the flip side of The Talisman(like Jack flipping into the Territories), this book appears to be mostly Straub and I suspect that Mr. Straub's nightmares and daydreams are far more terrifying that Mr. King's. The mystery and the horror are dead on.There is no chaff; only streamlined story that is racing towards a stunning end.I believe this is due to Straub.In fact, I think King should use Straub as an editor because I didn't find myself bored at any point(something I find in King's later works usually the middle). There is a rumor that Mr. King and Mr. Straub would like to do a third book about our friend, Jack Sawyer.I hope this is true and eagerly await it's arrival.

5-0 out of 5 stars Little Beat up but so Was Jack
I take long rides to Upstate NY on alternate weekends and I just got through listening to my favorite book of all time the Talisman and I thought I would follow it up with this. I am so glad I did. And it was in fine shape looks like it was loved and listened to once or twice, but well taken care of!

1-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed. Not a sequel, more like a companion novel.
This was not at all what I expected. More Dark Towery than The Talisman was. The style is that of the Dark Tower Series also.
I own 2 first edition hard cover copies of The Black House. (both given to me as B-Day gifts by friends who know the I am a Constant Reader) but I'd trade them both for a tattered copy of The Talisman! ... Read more

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