Review: Ghost Story by Peter Straub (audiobook)

A masterpiece! Far better than I remembered.

If you saw the movie based on this book, you didn’t really see this book. It was a fine film with some good performances; but it’s more of an excerpt from a much larger story.

I read this back in the 70s or 80s. I remembered the opening and the ending, but almost nothing of the middle. So this was like experiencing it for the first time, and it was excellent! It’s a horror story with a complex framing structure, stories about stories within stories. I love that sort of thing! (As should be obvious from The Last Dance.)

Describing the book is a challenge because of that structure, but I’ll try.

A man drives a kidnapped little girl to Florida. That’s both the beginning and the ending of the book. The middle describes how they started on this journey.

In a small New England town, five old men tell ghost stories; and some of the stories are true.

In California, the nephew of one of the men meets a mysterious woman who breaks up his life, toys with him, and abandons him when he needs her most.

In the Netherlands, the same woman seduces the nephew’s brother, and he kills himself. The nephew turns this into a ghost story. And much of it is true.

In the small town, after the death of the uncle and others, the men call upon an expert on ghost stories: the nephew, who must learn the stories of these before ancient evils tear the town apart.

There are so many stories from so many views. The reader, having access to all of the stories, sees glimpses of what ties them together as the survivors band together to fight something far larger than themselves.

The narrator does a solid job, never drawing attention to the narration. He handles the voices well, so you can tell one speaker from another with ease.

If you like a good frame story… If you like a good scare… You’ll like this book.

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