Ghost Story by Peter Straub


Genre: Horror
Synopsis: It began shortly after the party at which one of their members, Edward Wanderley, had died, or was killed. The Chowder Society, now found themselves drawn towards the supernatural. They began to tell ghost stories, extraordinary ghost stories . . . ghost stories that did not always stop when the teller finished speaking . . . Then came the dreams, forecasting horrors the four ageing men can scarcely bring themselves to discuss.


This was a strange one. I have never read anything of Straub's before, so I have no frame of reference for his writing. On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, often getting through nearly a hundred pages in one sitting, despite the density of the story. I loved the characters, and I haven't felt a community so widely and credibly portrayed since Salem's Lot.

That said, I felt the supernatural elements didn't gel incredibly well with the rest of the story. When it was just a mystery of why people were dying and strange dreams were being had, it was fine - because these things are only a mystery, not inherently supernatural. But as the novel progressed, it seemed to lose the run of itself a bit, with the explanations seeming difficult to digest and the characters figuring things out all too easily simply because they needed to, not because it made any sense that they would. Ultimately, I think the book became an example of excellent writing clashing with an underdeveloped idea - too much focus on the gorgeous detail betraying the lack of overall consideration of unity.

And THAT said, I still enjoyed reading it, because it was an incredibly easy book to immerse myself in, with, as I say, very likeable characters, and very intriguing mysteries up to a point. It could have been a masterpiece, but it was just lacking towards the end. I'm definitely glad I read it, but it's not one I would go back to again.

I'd be very interested to hear what other readers of it thought.