2010 Black Quill Award — Best Dark Genre Novel of the Year, Dark Scribe Magazine
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 it's 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 (Starred Review) (Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information)
“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
"A Dark Matter is ambitious in its scope and challenging in its telling. It's rich with allusions to philosophy, psychology, the occult and lots of references to Hawthorne." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"A Dark Matter reads like a gift for longtime readers who have been longing for Straub's return to all-out horror. But the writer does it on his terms, beautifully blending monsters and demons and indescribable evil into a melancholy novel shaped and crafted as carefully as literature, not pulp entertainment. Straub's writing has rarely been better or more precise." Miami Herald
"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 Reviews
"[R]ich with well-realized characters and incidents, and as dazzling a literary performance as anything Straub has ever written." Booklist
"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
An electric, chilling, and unpredictable novel from the master of modern horror.
On a Midwestern campus in the 1960s, a charismatic guru and his young acolytes perform a secret ritual in a local meadow. What happens is a mystery all that remains is a gruesomely dismembered body and the shattered souls of all who were present. Forty years later, one man seeks to learn about that horrifying night, and to do so he ll have to force those involved to examine the unspeakable events that have haunted them ever since.
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.
On a Midwestern campus in the 1960s, a charismatic guru and his young acolytes perform a secret ritual in a local meadow. What happens is a mystery—all that remains is a gruesomely dismembered body and the shattered souls of all who were present. Forty years later, one man seeks to learn about that horrifying night, and to do so he’ll have to force those involved to examine the unspeakable events that have haunted them ever since. Unfolding through their individual stories, A Dark Matter is an electric, chilling, and unpredictable novel that proves Peter Straub to be the master of modern horror.
About the Author
Peter Straub is the New York Times-bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including Ghost Story and The Talisman, co-written with Stephen King. Two of his most recent novels, Lost Boy Lost Girl and In the Night Room, are winners of the Bram Stoker Award. He lives in New York City.