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Ghost Story Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1989

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"A Head Full of Ghosts" by Paul Tremblay
A mind-bending tale of psychological horror about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Stephen King The terror just mounts and mounts.

Chicago Sun-Times The scariest book I've ever read....It crawls under your skin and into your dreams.

About the Author

Peter Straub is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including A Dark Matter. He has won the Bram Stoker Award for his novels Lost Boy Lost Girl and In the Night Room, as well as for his recent collection 5 Stories. Straub was the editor of the two-volume Library of American anthology The American Fantastic Tale. He lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Reissue edition (September 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671685635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671685638
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,475 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

163 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 15, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
SPOILER ALERT: Contains in depth discussion of key plot points!

"...your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions..." Joel, 3:3

In 1979, I discovered the novels of a guy named Stephen King and began reading more extensively in the horror genre. On the prowl for something similar, I happened on Straub's book in the library. I checked it out, little realizing that I had begun a decades long love affair with his work. It's now been almost twenty years since I read it the first time--I've read hundreds of books since then, but few thrilled me like Ghost Story.

Rereading it now, I realize the depth of Straub's accomplishment. Like the legendary storytellers to whom he pays homage, Straub has created a timeless tale of terror, an enduring classic. Reduced to its essentials, Ghost Story is a tale of supernatural revenge. As young men, Ricky Hawthorne, Sears James, Edward Wanderly, Lewis Benedikt and John Jaffrey accidentally kill a woman named Eva Galli. They panic, and decide to cover up her death. Placing her body in a borrowed car, they push the vehicle into a nearby lake. As the car sinks into the muck, they see a sight that haunts them for the rest of their lives: for a moment, it appears as if Eva is still alive, as they catch a glimpse of her face through the rear window. Shaken, they vow to keep her death a secret, and go on with their lives.

Fifty years later, the group still lives in their hometown of Milburn, NY, prosperous and content. Now known as The Chowder Society, they meet on a regular basis to swap ghost stories, but they never speak of Eva. Then, Edward Wanderly dies during a party given in the honor of an actress named Anne-Veronica Moore, apparently of fright.
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72 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Steven L. Kent on February 8, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I lived on horror novels when I was in college--and I acquired a good collection of my favorite horror novels in hardback.

When I finished school, I sold my The Shining, my The Stand, all of my horror books except one. There was one novel with which I could not part--Peter Straub's "Ghost Story."

Ghost Story, set in upstate New York, unwinds brilliantly. It begins with the frigid voices of old men swapping ghostly stories, then settles back and unwinds as the demons of these old men's stories come to possess the world of the present.

This is a book that starts slow, wrapping itself around the reader. You, like the characters in the book, think that you can easily escape for the first hundred pages. But the narrative tightens and you soon learn that escape was always an illusion.

This is a book that combines the chill of the New York winter with the arthritic helplessness of old man nightmares. It plays shamelessly with reality. The devices Straub incorporated in this book are so subtle that they had to be corrupted or ignored entirely when a movie was made based on this book.

I have read this book several times now, and I firmly believe it is the The Brothers Karamazov of the horror book world.

If you want to read some of the best writing that horror has to offer, read Ghost Story.
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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Bragan Thomas on March 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
GHOST STORY is one of the most beloved novels of my adolesence. I read the book at white heat when I was ten, stunned by the power of the imagery and the subtle brilliance of the storytelling. Straub's characters are original and memorable. I visualized them all so strongly that I was deeply affected by all their fates. Fortunately, I have come to regard this book even more highly as time has gone by - I reread it at least once each February and the pacing, elegant language and dazzling images never cease to amaze me. Unlike Stephen King, Straub never goes for the "gross-out" factor in his writing, and as a result, GHOST STORY might seem a little tame in comparison to other horror novels. This is really a book of spine-chilling suspense and slow terror rather than out-and-out horror and gore (although the book does have its bloody parts!). The tale is carefully woven, moving seamlessly from the present to the past to utter fantasy and back again. The plot concerns the fates of four well-to-do men, pillars of their small community of Millburn, New York. Their lives are comfortable, prosperous and settled. But Ricky, Sears, Lewis and John all share a dreadful secret that has come back to haunt them after fifty years. A "Nightwatcher" - a shape-shifting supernatural predator arrives in town and takes revenge on the four men one by one. She has many names (Anna/Alma/Ann-Veronica) and many lives, and seems to take great pleasure in destroying and manipulating ordinary humans, along with her strange undead henchman, the werewolf Gregory. Straub's immortal ghost is one of the great horror villains in recent literature. With the help of young writer Don Wanderley, the group must confront the sins of their past to comprehend what is happening to their town and to them.Read more ›
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Perry M. Ball on June 18, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"What's the most terrible thing you've ever done?"
"I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me...the most dreadful thing" This is how the book opens and comes to life. Boy, does it ever! I first read "Ghost Story" 22 years ago when I was 17 years old. I remember the movie coming out shortly after I read it. The movie version is okay, but really chops up the book. Where is the Lewis Benedikt character in the movie? ... and Edward Wanderly is the mayor of Milburn? No, I'm not going to do a review of the movie, but I must say, that if you really want to enjoy this classic book called "Ghost Story", by all means, read the book where the characters are so rich and full of life.
In Milburn, New York, Ricky Hawthorne, Sears James, Edward Wanderly, Lewis Benedikt and John Jaffrey are young friends on their way to professions in law and medicine. They accidentally kill a woman named Eva Galli. This group living in the 1920s panic and they decide the only thing they can do, cover up Eva's death. They put her "dead" body in a car that was loaned to them and together, push the vehicle into a lake. When the car is sinking they notice something that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Eva moves ("Jesus, she can't, she's dead!"). But yes, it appears that Eva is still alive and they see that she is grinning at them from the rear view window. Grinning! In the book, "Ghost Story" is a tale of supernatural revenge and the Eva Galli character is indeed very evil.
Return 50 years later to Milburn. The group of men are now called the Chowder Society. They have regular meetings and swap Ghost Stories, but have vowed not to speak of Eva Galli and her death.
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