“ Author: Peter Straub / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 28 August 2008 / Genre: Horror / Subcategory: Horror & Ghost Stories General / Publisher: Orion Publishing Co / Title: Ghost Story / ISBN 13: 9780575084643 / ISBN 10: 0575084643 „
Peter Straub is a well renowned author who has famously collaborated with Stephen King on two of his novels, The Talisman and Black House, and who has a quiye lengthy back catalogue of his own as well. But of all of his novels, many of which have failed to impress this paticular reviewer over the years, Ghost Story remains arguably his best and most successful solo novel to date and was also made into a film featuring Fred Astaire!
A group of old-timers regularly gather together in the town of Milburn once a month to exchange ghost stories about their past in a bid to ease their restless dreams. All four of them are plagued by nightmares almost every night ~ triggered by a secret from their past that they all share; the ramifications of which have continued to reverberate throughout the town in the intervening decades that have passed. And slowly the group are dying off because once, not long ago, they were five........
In a bid to try and lay their nightmares to rest, the group begin correspondence with the nephew of their deceased friend and former confidante; a horror writer who it would seem has some experience of the macabre and may well be the one to prove to the old-timers that the feelings of being hunted they share are just the product of a set of over-active imaginations. Unfortunately, his arrival only causes things to escalate leading to the final battle between the group and an old enemy who may just be the death of their home town!
This is an awesome novel that still shocks and chills decades after I first read it as a teenager. It reads like a cross between Stephen King's It and his other great novel, 'Salem's Lot with its themes of a town under seige not just by extreme weather but also by a maevolent, ancient and very evil force!
All the characters are brilliantly conceived and though there are a few places where the novel does lag a bit, mostly around the middle chapters, the end climax is as fantastic as it is terrifying as the group plus their newest addition face off against something from their past they long thought was dead!
I cannot say any more without giving away what it is they face but this truly is the Great American Ghost Story of our modern age and if this IS the only book in Peter Straub's bibliography worth reading and of any note then at least the writer has left us something truly memorable as his legacy.
It is a shame that nothing else he has written has ever quite matched the skill and depth of this book. Nonetheless this remains one of my favourite books of all time and has lost none of its impact in the years since it was first published.
If you only ever read one Peter Straub book then this should be it!