Synopses & Reviews
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 its 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 groups 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.
"In this tour de force from bestseller Straub (In the Night Room), four high school friends in 1966 Madison, Wis. — Hootie Bly, Dilly Olson, Jason Boatman, and Lee Truax — fall under the spell of charismatic wandering guru Spencer Mallon. During an occult ceremony in which Mallon attempts to break through to a higher reality, something goes horribly awry leaving one participant dead. Decades later, Lee's writer husband interviews the quartet to find out what happened. In Roshomon-like fashion, each relates a slightly different account of the trauma they experienced. Straub masterfully shows how the disappointments, downturns, and failed promise of the four friends' lives may have stemmed from this youthful experience, and suggests, by extension, that the malignant evil they helped unleash into the world has tainted all hope ever since. Brilliant in its orchestration and provocative in its speculations, this novel ranks as one of the finest tales of modern horror. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information)
"Straub’s last few fantasies have been ever more baroque, but this tall, dark tale beats them all for heaven-storming scale and wheels within wheels." Kirkus
“Peter Straub's new novel is a terrifying story of innocents — high school students in the turbulent sixties — who stumble into horrors far beyond their understanding. A Dark Matter is populated with vivid, sympathetic characters, and driven by terrors both human and supernatural. It's the kind of book that's impossible to put down once it has been picked up. It kept me reading far into the night. Straub builds otherworldly terror without ever losing touch with his attractive cast of youngsters, who age beautifully. Put this one high on your list.” Stephen King
"Part Rashomon, part The Turn of the Screw. Peter Straub may well be the most important voice in suspense fiction today." Lincoln Child
"American master Peter Straub takes the sweep of our freaky history over the past forty years, subjects it to all the elegant gifts of madness and arts of haunting of which he is the wicked king, and finds himself in possession of a masterpiece." Michael Chabon, author of The Yiddish Policemen's Union and Manhood for Amateurs
"[A]s dazzling a literary performance as anything Straub has ever written." Booklist
"I've been reading Peter Straub since I was a teenager, and his work is hardwired into my brain. A Dark Matter contains echoes of all that has been great about Straub's previous work and builds upon it. This Rashomon-like tale is as spooky and frightening as anything he has written, but it's also an intense and moving celebration of love. Out of the darkness comes, ultimately, a surprising and haunting sense of joy." Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply
"Increasingly, Peter Straub brilliantly defies and blurs literary genres. A Dark Matter is a page-turning thriller of every sort: psychological, sociological, epistemological. Plus, it's really scary." Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate At the Stairs
“A devastatingly good novel. In its investigation of a dark ritual that casts a decades-long shadow, A Dark Matter makes you question all you thought you knew about horror and about literature. But it goes well beyond that: it messes with your sense of reality and then, just when you're getting your bearings, scrambles it again.”Brian Evenson, author of The Open Curtain
This electric, chilling, and unpredictable novel will satisfy Straub's many ardent fans and win him legions more. By revisiting an evil act that happened years ago, a man may awaken more than he intended — and he may get what he deserves.
About the Author
Peter Straub is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels. Two of his most recent, Lost Boy Lost Girl and In the Night Room, are winners of the Bram Stoker Award. He lives in New York City.