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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 that 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 group's 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.
"American master Peter Straub takes the sweep of our freaky history over the past 40 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)
"As dazzling a literary performance as anything Straub has ever written." ( Booklist)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Nancy Bauer on 02-24-10
One wonders why the likes of Lorrie Moore and Michael Chabon are championing this book, which Chabon goes so far as to call a masterpiece. I'm guessing that Moore and Straub are colleagues at UW-Madison; and, as a college professor myself, I can imagine that Moore might have felt she had no other choice.
The characters are poorly developed; one doesn't believe in any of them, let alone care about what happens to them. The plot, such as it is, is propelled along by the author's magical intervention. We learn what each middle-aged character saw "in the meadow" 40 years ago, and the answer is: different kinds of meaningless, even embarrassing, hocus-pocus. Nothing that we learn is even remotely scary, though much of it is laughable (e.g., the devil who shows up dressed in preppy clothes and speaking in a "New York" accent -- an especially painful stretch of poor Robertson Dean's somniferous narration -- whose name is "Doity Thoid" (get it? 33rd? hahaha!)).
What propelled me to the end was curiosity about how Straub might get himself out of the boring mess he was creating. The answer is: he doesn't. Ouch.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Bobbie on 04-26-10
Don't waste your money/credits on this book. I felt I was drugged while listening to this book. I could not get into it. I pride myself in listening to every book I get no matter how bad it may turn out, but this one broke me. I could not listen to one more repeat or forward/backward telling. I am not for sure I would reconize the end when it came. I have liked his books in the past, but this is not worth even trying. If I can save even one person from trying this book, I have done my part
11 of 12 people found this review helpful