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A Dark Matter Hardcover – 4 Mar 2010

2.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; UK First Edition; 1st printing. edition (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752891820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752891828
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,350,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

A glorious character study and an achingly well-written chronicle of lives marked by a brush with the unknowable. One of horror's most accomplished and intelligent voices, consistently lyrical and poetic. (Jes Bickham SFX)

Straub writes understated, literary horror, all the more terrifying in this novel for what he keeps from the reader and for his brilliant psychological portraits of innocents caught up in events beyond their control and understanding. Gripping. (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

This is a story about stories, their importance in our lives and the competing forces of love and evil driving every narrative. And the matter here has more to do with awe and terror, in a religious sense, than the cheap thrills of genre horror. Straub wears his literary influences openly and has nothing to fear by comparison with such greats as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Arthur Machen. (THE TIMES)

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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As per his mini-bio in the back of the book, Peter Straub has "written nineteen novels and won, multiple times, every award his expanding genre bestows," and so it follows that readers will come to A Dark Matter with a certain measure of anticipation. With what is perhaps his most ambitious fiction to date, however, Straub does not go about systematically catering to expectations. Far from it, in fact; though its tangled narrative stems from a seemingly simple premise - one man in the modern day must piece together the mysterious events that shattered and scattered his adolescent peer group - A Dark Matter is a difficult novel from the first page, wherein the semantic significance of the word 'obstreperous' brings a flood of difficult memories back to Lee Harwell.

Our protagonist is a reasonably popular novelist, treading water when we join him in search of his muse. He doesn't flounder for long: when Lee comes into possession of a late police detective's tell-all memoir, inspiration hits him like a ten tonne truck. To his surprise, the manuscript ties into the very events that his wife, the wonderful Eel, has hidden from him for decades. The desperate lawman's last-ditch attempt to expose a serial murderer represents something else to Lee, however: it is a way in, at long last, to the hidden history of an eventful few weeks in the 1960s.

All those years ago, Lee alone saw through Spencer Mallon, a wandering guru with so-called psychic abilities; the rest of his friends bought into the handsome stranger's supposedly spiritual powers wholesale.
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Format: Paperback
'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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Format: Hardcover
Back in the '60s a group of teenagers take part in a black magic ritual orchestrated by a dubious guru called Spencer Mallon.The consequences are devastating for the rest of their lives. Peter Straub's novel explores the nature of evil, revisiting this 'dark matter' through the shifting perspectives of the different participants. Straub is a great stylist, subtle where Stephen King would use a sledge-hammer, and this book is full of brilliant set pieces.Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I've found Mr Straub a perplexing writer. Some of this novels have gripped me, and his novella Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff is one of the greatest I have read (bar Stephen King's The Long Walk, but please assume that is a given) yet he is equally capable of writing books that somehow completely alienate me as a reader.

A Dark Matter is a prime example. It is based on an earlier short story `The Skylark' - so wikipedia advises - and you can tell. Somehow 416 pages have passed me by without anything of note happening. Curiously, the ending is explained near the beginning, and bar a different retelling from a multitudes of characters, there's very little in the way of tension or revelation.Straub is an excellent writer, of that there is no doubt, but his plotting and narrative discipline is prone to distraction, and I do wonder where his editor was in all of this.

New novels from this author don't come around often, so if you are a Straub fan, by all means enjoy. If you are new to Straub I would suggest picking up the Blue Rose Trilogy ( Koko, Mystery and The Throat) if you like crime and The Talisman and Black House if you like horror (and Stephen King, who co-wrote).
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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