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4.3 out of 5 stars
Ghost Story
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on February 9, 2014
Didn't grab and hold my attention like I thought it would. Not what I would consider a classic ghost story.
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on September 8, 2011
This novel is so scary on s many levels. It did take me a little while to get fully into it, but it is that lull period that gives you a false sense of security. This novel terrorizes the characters in it so vividly the reader can't help but feel that same feeling. I was so scared I couldn't stay at home alone. The only part i didn't like in this novel was the epilogue. I felt it didn't fit with the rest of the novel.
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on February 5, 2010
This Novel does a good job of atmosphere and character development. It does a good job of creating tension and build up. Some parts of it do a good job of creeping out the reader more then most other books are capable of. I can't say that in the end I was satisfied with the conclusion but did enjoy the build up like most books in this genre.

Much like this review i'm writing alot of people will give up reading the book at quarter to half way through. The writer takes alot of time and focus on the build up and suspension which has two effects and one of those is to bore some readers waiting for some pay off. The book is almost made up of different short storys that all combine together and some of these sections you will enjoy others may have you wishing you had of picked up Stephen Kings the Dome instead. This book is hard to find in stores and will eventually probably disappear from Amazon so buy it while you have a chance. Worth a read, better in my opinion then most horror I have read and different from the regular Stephen King I usually read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2003
"What's the most terrible thing you've ever done?"
"I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me...the most dreadful thing" This is how the book opens and comes to life. Boy, does it ever! I first read "Ghost Story" 22 years ago when I was 17 years old. I remember the movie coming out shortly after I read it. The movie version is okay, but really chops up the book. Where is the Lewis Benedikt character in the movie? ... and Edward Wanderly is the mayor of Milburn? No, I'm not going to do a review of the movie, but I must say, that if you really want to enjoy this classic book called "Ghost Story", by all means, read the book where the characters are so rich and full of life.
In Milburn, New York, Ricky Hawthorne, Sears James, Edward Wanderly, Lewis Benedikt and John Jaffrey are young friends on their way to professions in law and medicine. They accidentally kill a woman named Eva Galli. This group living in the 1920s panic and they decide the only thing they can do, cover up Eva's death. They put her "dead" body in a car that was loaned to them and together, push the vehicle into a lake. When the car is sinking they notice something that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Eva moves ("Jesus, she can't, she's dead!"). But yes, it appears that Eva is still alive and they see that she is grinning at them from the rear view window. Grinning! In the book, "Ghost Story" is a tale of supernatural revenge and the Eva Galli character is indeed very evil.
Return 50 years later to Milburn. The group of men are now called the Chowder Society. They have regular meetings and swap Ghost Stories, but have vowed not to speak of Eva Galli and her death. Suddenly, Edward Wanderly dies while interviewing a young actress named Anne-Veronica Moore at a party hosted by John Jaffrey. Edward apparently dies of fright. The remaining members of the Chowder Society are possessed by terrible nightmares where they die. They send for Edwards's young nephew, Don Wanderly, who is a writer of horror novels. Don wrote a recent book called "The Nightwatcher" based, we learn later, on his own experiences with Eva, known to him as Alma Mobley.
Peter Straub wrote a very cerebral book. Ghosts, known in the book as shape shifters, are entities that have been around when humans first began to gather knowledge. "We (Alma talking to Don inside one of Don's hallucinations) have always lived in your dreams and in your worst nightmares" ... the most dreadful thing!
5 Stars!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2002
...because i would have regretted spending a lot of money on this book. It was one of the most boring horror novels I have read.
First of all, it isn't about ghosts! It's about people haunted by the past, but that is a very different thing. The supernatural elements are mostly demonic in nature, and the shock value ranks around Buffy the Vampire Slayer level: shocking but not scary.
I found it difficult to become interested in any of the characters, especially because one of the main characters appears in the prologue and then disappears for half the book. I was engaged by the mystery of what happened at Edward's party, but once the answers were given, i didn't find them very compelling. I guess my major beef with this book is that it just didn't make sense for a tragedy in the 1920s to have not really had any effect on the participants until 50 years later. I almost put down the book and didn't finish it. I gave the book two stars because it was at least interesting enough to make me want to know how it ended.
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on May 1, 2002
The idyllic little country town of Milburn, Connecticut, is under supernatural siege. Inexplicable suicides and curious accidents are occurring. Livestock are found mutilated in snowy fields, with no footprints around them. Dead loved ones visit the living - who die under bizarre circumstances, shortly after. A dwindling number of affluent old men in the community, who call themselves the Chowder Society, know something about it. But they're not talking. Because they can't believe, themselves, the reason why - and they're running scared, because they're the victims of choice.
This is Straub's most intricate, atmospheric, and satisfying novel, constructed as a highly convoluted Chinese puzzle-box of interlocking stories, with a single underlying, unifying theme. The Chowder Society gather together to tell ghost stories, all centered around exorcizing an unexplainable series of events from their collective youth, which appears to be the root cause of the nightmare events in their little town, not to mention their own lives. "What's the most terrible thing you've ever done?" is the question they continually ask each other. "I won't tell you that," is their pat club answer, "but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me...the most dreadful thing..." From this, Straub derives his springboard of individual ghost and horror stories, pondering the origin of all humanity's nightmares - and explains them with a uniquely novel answer, better discovered by the reader for himself than revealed (beware, some of the reviews below contain spoilers).
Straub generally demands great patience of his readers, and such is the case here, but he pays off in spades for those who stay the course. The style is occasionally a bit over-the-top, but it achieves the desired effect.
I've read this book a few times, and enjoy it more with successive readings. It's a brilliant piece. Very involving, endlessly fascinating, and scary as frozen hell for the holidays.
Treat yourself. Don't miss it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2002
I have mixed feelings about Ghost Story. For one, the title is misleading in that the book is NOT about ghosts in the traditional sense. The story is about immortal, shape-shifting creatures called "nightwatchers" who have special powers. Having this clarified, I feel that this book best belongs under FANTASY instead of the HORROR genre.
In addition, I found the writing to be juvenile. When I was in grade school, my best friend and I used to write our own fantasy / horror stories for our English classes. When reading Ghost Story, I felt like I was reading one of our stories!
Reading Ghost Story was laborious. I found the book to be incredibly slow and an overall tedious read. Towards the end, I was almost pulling my hair out because I just wanted to finish the darned thing. Moreover, I didn't find the story to be scary like the book reviews indicated it would be. There were scary moments, of course (like about 2), but, overall, it just didn't grab me.
The aspects that I DID like about the book concerned its characters. I found Sears to be a humorous, sarcastic old man. Don was a cool dude, too. The steamy love scenes between Don and Alma were worth writing home about also.
The ending, though, was just......dumb. Juvenile. Stupid.
Overall, I would say that I didn't like this book. It sounds like the movie version is better than the book. I bought Shadowland, also by Straub, at a used book store. I hope that it will be better than Ghost Story.
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on April 2, 2002
I read Ghost Story for the first time as a teenager and read a lot of horror, when the book was new. I don't read as much horror now, but wanted to revisit this one. It holds up surprising well. In fact, as an adult, I identify more with the Chowder Society members. Fear means something different as we get older, and this book seems to understand that. Don Wanderly's reactions to the events in Milburn are markedly different to the older men.
The movie version captured only a fraction of the book and is largely unsuccessful. It is worth seeing, though, for Fred Astaire's portrayal of Ricky Hawthorne. It was Astaire's last film and he is wonderful. It's especially fun to hear his character say that he can't dance!
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on March 30, 2002
One day while reading at my old job one of my boss's asked me if I had ever read Ghost Story. I had not. So i picked it up and read this great book with real fever. It may be the scariest book ever written. Along with The Excorsist, It, and They Thirst, this is one scary book (by the way all those books are in my must read section). The story is simple four old men having to face there past. And suffer the fate of there actions. Just a great, fun book.
And on the movie that was realesed in the 80's. It was really bad and nowhere near as good as the book. My only knock on Straub is that if feel that this book was never equeled. The Tailisman with Stephen King is the closet's he has gotten. Still read this book, during the daytime..........
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on March 4, 2002
Peter Straub's "Ghost Story" has become a classic and rightly so. The fear in "Ghost Story" is psychological, it comes from within rather than from without. Much of it is anticipatory. What happens in "Ghost Story" could really happen to any one of us. As such, it is far more chilling than more recent horror novels, most of which end up being either silly or sickening.
Straub manages to keep us a little off-balance throughout the book, thus heightening the suspense. We think we know what's coming next, but we're never really sure. This uncertainty kept me turning pages and reading far into the night, long after I should have turned out my bedside light and gone to sleep.
The characters and situations in "Ghost Story" seemed totally believable even though we "knew" the events portrayed "couldn't" have happened. This made them all the more chilling, at least in my opinion. Several nights I slept with my bedroom light on and even felt haunted by the book when morning came.
I found the setting of "Ghost Story" absolutely perfect and felt the book's atmosphere only added to its overall "ghostly" quality. I was lucky enough to attend college in that part of the United States and I found the setting so "dead on."
For me, at least, "Ghost Story" is the horror story against which I measure all others. So far, nothing else has managed to measure up to the high standards it set. It's truly a classic and rightly so.
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