Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Ghost Story, Peter Straub, 1979


My favorite quote: “It seemed that if you listened to that snow hissing long enough, you wouldn’t just hear it telling you that it was waiting for you, you’d hear some terrible secret—a secret to turn your life black.” (Thanks, Peter Straub. Now I’m afraid of snow. I’ve always suspected it was evil and now there can be no doubt.)

Most interesting characters: Sears James, an attorney; Ricky Hawthorne, attorney and partner to Sears James; Lewis Benedikt, an entrepreneur (retired); John Jaffrey, a doctor; Alma Mobley, a graduate student; Eva Galli, a beautiful stranger who came to town one day and changed everything … 

Opening scene: A man named Donald Wanderley is traveling to Panama City with a young girl he has presumably kidnapped

The gist: The Chowder Society — James, Hawthorne, Benedikt, and Jaffrey — have been friends for fifty years, gathering together to tell each other ghost stories in hopes of relieving the terrible nightmares all of them suffer from. Nightmares, you ask? What’s been haunting them all these years, you ask? In short, it’s a heinous crime they committed in their past — and now the men are beginning to realize that maybe, they can’t get away with murder after all …  

Greatest strengths: I hate to make myself sound like a grumpy old man by saying they just don’t write ‘em like that anymore (technically, Ghost Story was before my time) but it’s kinda true. In Ghost Story, Peter Straub pulls out all the big guns, and he makes it look easy. I can’t think of a book that makes better use of a haunting (paranormally AND psychologically) than this one. So as much as I hate to say it, yeah, they really don’t write ‘em like that anymore. Oh yeah, and get off my lawn 

Standout achievements: There are some genuinely creepy moments in Ghost Story that you’ll remember long after you’ve finished the book. In my experience, few books have that kind of lasting power on its readers — but in Ghost Story, it’s like Peter Straub is just showing off. And I say let him do it. Ghost Story is a remarkably effective book

Fun Facts: Ghost Story was a national bestseller, and is considered to be the book that cemented Peter Straub’s reputation as one of the finest horror writers of our time

Other media: The aptly named 1981 film, Ghost Story, starring Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, Alice Krige, and Craig Wasson — directed by John Irvin

Additional thoughts: I read Ghost Story as a tale that’s as much (if not more) about the psychological effects of long-term guilt as a story about ghosts — a kind of Tell-Tale Heart type of thing. I’m not saying I think that’s what Peter Straub intended, but that was my interpretation of it. What’s really great about Ghost Story though, is that it doesn’t matter either way — it’s a damned good book no matter how you approach it  

Hit or Miss: Hit

Haunt me:

Read Peter Straub’s Ghost Story

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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