02 January 2023

Ghost Story


By Peter Straub


A 2023 Top Rated Read

First published almost 44 years ago, Ghost Story set the bar for the horror genre that was to follow. It was a book against which others were measured. First coming across it as a teenager in the mid-1980s, I was thrilled and chilled in equal measure. It left a lasting impression which remained throughout the passing decades. I recently set aside time for a re-read; but would it be as good as I remembered or would I be disappointed?

Firstly, it's a book which requires a certain level of commitment — don't expect to breeze through it in an afternoon. Secondly, the first half is rather slow and meandering — the groundwork being laid for what is to follow. However, if you stick with it (and it does require some stamina), the second half picks up pace and the story comes into its own.

Peter Straub's storytelling is superb and just as enjoyable second time around. The intervening 37 years had completely erased my memory of the creeping unease and mounting tension that slowly smothers. The atmosphere is one of anticipation and dread. A fantastically scary read.       


  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz
  • Publication Year: 1979
  • Author: Peter Straub (1943 - 2022)
  • Genre: Horror, Paranormal


In a seedy motel in Florida, a young man holds captive a little girl in a soiled pink dress. He is anxious, tormented, introspective. She is calm, passive, strangely detached. She says her name is Angie Maule.

In the small upstate town of Milburn, New York, four old friends meet to honor the traditions of the Chowder Society. They drink good whiskey and trade ghost stories. As chilling as these tales are, and as strangely prophetic, they pale before the horrific nightmares that began a year ago when one of their members attended a party for a visiting actress - and there died of a heart attack. Or was it fright? Ask the actress. She says her name is Ann-Veronica Moore.

In California, a talented young novelist teaching creative writing at Berkeley finds himself hopelessly obsessed with one of his students. She is exquisitely lovely, infernally elusive. She says her name is Alma Mobley.

What is the connection between these places, these people, these agonizing events?

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