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A Dark Matter [Paperback]

Peter Straub
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

3 Feb 2011

It is the 1960s and the charismatic and cunning Spenser Mallon is a campus guru, attracting the devotion and demanding sexual favours 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 his friends by writing a book about this 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 throughout 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...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (3 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753828820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753828823
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 218,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A gripping, mysterious piece of fiction (CATHOLIC HERALD)

A well written novel that uses its linguistic flourishes and scene setting to great effect (SCI FI NOW)

Book Description

Forty years ago, Spenser Mallon led a group of young students to witness a brutal, ritual murder. The survivors never recovered. Now, it seems, he's back...

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very slow and boring 24 July 2011
By Phil64
'Terrifying... Impossible to put down' said Stephen King on the front cover. Well, it wasn't and I did lots of times! The protagonist wasn't a likable character and was one dimensional as well as all the other characters and the final retelling, from the main character's wife, of the events that happened all those years ago was neither terrifying or intersting. I don't know why she took 40 odd years to retell her story and will tell it only once, without interruption, it was too long and boring.

I took this book on holiday expecting to finish it within a few days, it took two weeks and managed to finish it when the plane touched down. I didn't root for any of the characters and I found that there was no atmosphere to the story.

I give this novel one star, as it's a good pick for a holiday read, there's no way you'd finish it before you get back.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars whats dark about it? 3 April 2011
I was extremely disappointed by this book. I found it dull and difficult to get into.
The general idea was a good one but needed expanding to hold the reader's attention.
A group of high school students get inspired by the seductive talk of a couple of college men. They agree to join the group in a ritual in a local meadow(all except one boy who doesn't want to get involved as he doesn't trust the older boys)
Now 30+ years later, as an author, he is inspired to find out exactly what happened as all he knows is the ritual left one man dead and the rest of the group damaged in some way.
The book starts with this background but no details and as the story unfolds, one by one the rest of the group of his childhood friends are traced and give him an explanation of what really happened.
All of them have been changed in some way: one boy once a thief is now helping stores to avoid shoplifting; one boy institutionalised since the event is brought out of his condition by the arrival of the inquirer; one boy is living as a virtual tramp; one girl is now married to a politician and very much self centred, and his wife, another participant, is now blind but well balanced.
Each story is told from the same perspective, as a participant, but we are never really told what happened to the boy that died only that he was torn to shreds. Some of the descriptions are very well written but upon completion of the book the reader is none the wiser as to the actual plot.
I have read a lot of Graham Masterson and Stephen King books and with the odd exception they are gripping reads. Unfortunately I would not recommend this book to anyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A dark that doesn't matter 12 July 2013
By Acton
I'm a huge fan of Peter Straub and love many of his novels. However, 'a dark matter', despite the great title, is very boring and hard to read and not an enjoyable experience. It is hard to believe this was written by the genius that gave us 'Ghost Story' and 'Shadowland' and 'Koko' and 'The Throat'. The latter part of the book was incomprehensible to me. I read it when it came out on hardback and will try to read it again someday, but it won't be easy. I think Straub is overthinking his work and his craft and his art. He needs to try having some fun with his novels, like he used to years ago prior to 'Hellfire Club'. I can't imagine Straub attracting any new fans with a book like this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read 15 April 2011
It's interesting that so many people seem to be disappointed with this book. Personally, I enjoyed it for its language and the psychology driving the characters. The "Event" that links all the characters together didn't seem to me to be the main point, rather it was the effect on the group of friends. However, I don't think it was terrifying, as Stephen King states but there were some eerie and thought provoking metaphysical moments. I'm not a quick reader but I did want to keep coming back to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pointless 23 Mar 2011
When I received by Real Readers a book to review that was written by Peter Straub, I got excited for I had already read and enjoyed his two works with Stephen King, namely the 'Black House' and the 'Talisman' (although I never quite understood how it is possible to co-author a fictional story). Unfortunately, the book under review, entitled 'A Dark Matter', did not live up to my expectations.

"Terrifying...impossible to put down" writes Stephen King; "A new horror epic" states Sunday Express; boring and pointless, I say. I am an avid reader who loves crime and horror stories, but this book is neither. It is a rather weak, badly planned social drama, that is not sure what it wants to be: a horror/crime/drama/serial killer story? In the end, it becomes a mismatch of everything. There is a supernatural element indeed, which has cleverly been hyped by the marketing team and the media, but the only terrifying thing in this book is how slow and pointless it is, to the point of mental torture for the reader who tries to finish it.

The premise sounds interesting and if developed in a different way it could have been a success: in the 1960s a charming hippie 'guru' type called Spencer Mallon, with an interest in ancient languages and the occult, arrives in an American town and gets the devotion of three college kids and a group of four teenagers. His vision is to organise some kind of a ritual in a local meadow, which however goes terribly wrong. As a result, one kid disappears and another is found dismembered. The surviving kids never reveal many details and they just seem to go on with their lives, but each one of them was traumatised by the event in a different way.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not scary
My friend told me that this book would scare me. It didn't and the language is very populist. I read another. The same. I guess I am just not a Peter Straub fan.
Published 2 months ago by Emmabemma
1.0 out of 5 stars Pathetic
The whole idea is just silly. A group of students lead by some crazy pseudo guru opens a portal to another reality on a meadow (?? Read more
Published 6 months ago by jan siekiera
2.0 out of 5 stars Losing the will to live
I found this one of the most boring books I have ever tried to read. The characters are one and all uninteresting and before long I couldn't care less what happened to any of them. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Penny Waugh
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the Worst Books I've Ever Read
I got hold of this book after reading a review that placed it amongst the best horrors of 2012. In fact there were a number of official reviews, using words such as... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr. S. Fell
1.0 out of 5 stars A Dull Matter...
I kept waiting for something interesting to happen.

Sadly, I waited in vain.

A hugely disappointing effort from one of my favourite authors...
Published on 4 April 2012 by Stephen Gilbert
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I am a great fan of Peter Straub and have been for years. I started this book and found myself lost in a maze right from the word go. Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2011 by C. Newbury
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a struggle
I am a fan of Peter Straub's writing but to be honest I am struggling a bit with this one. It is heavy going with highbrow references that slow down an already leisurely paced and... Read more
Published on 7 July 2011 by Mister Mann
5.0 out of 5 stars Love love LOVE this book!
As an avid reader of everything from literature to comics, I devour good authors - and Straub is one of the best. Read more
Published on 11 May 2011 by Mrs. E. A. Molloy
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I don't know why but I just can't get into this book. I've tried 3 or 4 times now and I'm finding it most a unenjoyable, almost depressing read. Read more
Published on 22 April 2011 by Neet
2.0 out of 5 stars Time Lost Never to be Got Back
This is a very disappointing book. I was taken in by the good words from Stephen King. If he thinks it's good, who am I to argue? Read more
Published on 17 April 2011 by Keith Humphreys
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