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A Dark Matter Mass Market Paperback – Abridged, February 22, 2011

176 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Six book critics venture into a new novel by a best-selling horror writer. The writer is said to have magical abilities to blend horror conventions with literary fiction to keep the pages turning. He is even said to have touched Stephen King! Four of the critics come away convinced that a transcendent supernatural event has occurred, which may have something to do with the nature of evil. But two are horribly scarred by the event--unbearably bored, convinced they have just read a rejected script from Lost. Whose version of events is true? We may never know. All critics agree on is that the only possible way to describe such a plot structure is to reference Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon--so readers may just have to investigate for themselves. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400096723
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400096725
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Straub is the author of seventeen novels, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. They include Ghost Story, Koko, Mr. X, In the Night Room, and two collaborations with Stephen King, The Talisman and Black House. He has written two volumes of poetry and two collections of short fiction, and he edited the Library of America's edition of H. P. Lovecraft's Tales and the forthcoming Library of America's 2-volume anthology, American Fantastic Tales. He has won the British Fantasy Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards, and three World Fantasy Awards. In 1998, he was named Grand Master at the World Horror Convention. In 2006, he was given the HWA's Life Achievement Award. In 2008, he was given the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award by Poets & Writers. At the World Fantasy Convention in 2010, he was given the WFC's Life Achievement Award.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 100 people found the following review helpful By The Lit Witch on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
How do you take a fairly uninspired short story about a bunch of hippies who accidentally open a portal to hell and turn it into a full length novel? Tell it over and over again from 5 different points of view. Throw in a cast of equally uninspired characters, a dash of gore (to offset the lack of scariness) and some big words like "obstreperous" and you've got the recipe for A Dark Matter. Ta da.

Gosh, the premise of this one sounded SO good: a bunch of kids follow their guru into a meadow, something horrible happens, and the ones that don't die or disappear emerge broken, blind or insane.... It's grim, but it sounds interesting, doesn't it? Sadly, the reality doesn't live up to the premise. The story never really gets moving. It just gets retold by each of the central characters with an extra detail here and there and with not so much as an "aha!" moment at the end. I can't quite put my finger on exactly what's missing here. It just isn't good... or scary... or spine-tingling...

What I CAN put my finger on is how one-dimensional the characters are. They are cut-and-pasted out of any nameless teen slasher movie: the hopelessly beautiful girl who doesn't do or contribute anything except being hopelessly beautiful, the menacing frat guy, the menacing frat guy's side-kick, the tomboy who's "just one of the guys," the handsome natural-leader guy. Blah blah blah. And of course every one of them has "daddy issues," which is why they fall for the spellbinding, father-replacing guru guy. Why is he spellbinding? Don't know, really. Even he isn't developed much beyond the fact that he looks like Indiana Jones.

There is one exception in this cast of pancake-flat characters...
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on February 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
After thinking about it quite a bit, I have to say that Peter Straub takes a bit of a different approach to the sorts of scary stories that he writes. Unlike King, I don't believe that Straub's intentions when he writes is to simply deliver thrills and chills to the reader. Don't get me wrong, Straub can put together some really spooky stuff, but his intention isn't just to spook the reader. Instead, he really wants to explore, and he really wants the reader to explore these different ideas and concepts with him.

It's almost like his stories are more like examinations of different aspects of horror and terror. They are a glimpse at how people react and cope with horrific and terrible situations. He's more subtle, less overt in some of the things that he does, which is partly why I love his work so much.

A Dark Matter is a prime example of this exploration of horror. A Dark Matter doesn't really set out to terrify the reader. It's quite literally an examination and exploration of what happens when people cross the line and dive head first into the horrors and wonders of the metaphysical. What is on the other side of reality, and what would happen to those who get a taste of it?

So, if anybody is looking forward to some speedy page turner that sends shivers running up and down your spine, you're going to be let down. (but seriously, this was never the sort of book that Straub writes anyways and you should know that already). This book is far more introspective and subtle than any of his other books.

The plot itself, the story of Lee going around and collecting the stories, interpretations and experiences from the people who were there on that insane night in the meadow, is really interesting and engrossing.
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54 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Lawrence on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The year is 1966 in Madison, WI. Four high school students Hootie Bly, Dilly Olson, Jason Boatman, and Eel Truax, become enamored by Spencer Mallon, a charismatic guru who promises to introduce them to a "higher reality." During an occult ritual, something goes horribly wrong, killing one teen. The four friends are forever changed, each dealt with this horrid day in a different way. Hootie was taken to a mental institution. His only means of communication is quoting lines from Hawthorne's A Scarlet Letter. Eel marries Lee Hayward, her high school sweetheart, but she eventually loses her sight. Boatman, once a shoplifter, now runs his own theft prevention company. Dilly Olson never really got over the entire situation. Decades later the group comes back together when Hayward decides to write a non-fictional account of that afternoon. Each learns that their own personal account wasn't as accurate as they believed. This reunion is the first time they have had the opportunity to share their experiences with one another. Pieces of the puzzle are finally starting to come together to form a large, broad picture.

Once again, Straub does an outstanding job. A Dark Matter is purely character-driven; the book is broken up into several parts, each devoted to detailing the account of each of the main characters. Readers are transported thirty years in a matter of pages. I was impressed at how smoothly this transformation flowed. There is potential for the novels with character-driven storylines, specifically ones with as many characters as A Dark Matter, to seem drawn-out and exaggerated.
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