A Dark Matter

A Dark Matter

by Peter Straub
2.5 91


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A Dark Matter by Peter Straub

An electric, chilling, and unpredictable novel from the master of modern horror.

On a Midwestern campus in the 1960s, a charismatic guru and his young acolytes perform a secret ritual in a local meadow. What happens is a mystery—all that remains is a gruesomely dismembered body and the shattered souls of all who were present. Forty years later, one man seeks to learn about that horrifying night, and to do so he’ll have to force those involved to examine the unspeakable events that have haunted them ever since. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780753828823
Publisher: Phoenix
Publication date: 02/28/2011

About the Author

PETER STRAUB is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels. In the Night Room and Lost Boy, Lost Girl are winners of the Bram Stoker Award, as is his collection 5 Stories. Straub is the editor of numerous anthologies, including the two-volume The American Fantastic Tale from the Library of America. He lives in Brooklyn.


New York City

Date of Birth:

March 2, 1943

Place of Birth:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


B.A. in English, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1965; M.A., Columbia University, 1966

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Dark Matter 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
DogStreetBookGuy More than 1 year ago
I came to this new Straub book filled with anticipation. I have been a fan of his writing for decades, going back to Koko. I've not read everything he has written, but I have read a lot of it, both short form and novel length. His short story Pork Pie Hat is one of my favorite short stories...by anybody. Some might argue that all genre fiction falls short of attaining the status of art. I am not one of those people, but I can admit that there has been a proliferation of fluff in the horror genre. At his best, Mr. Straub elevates genre fiction to the level of true literature. But, and it's a big "but", at his worst, Straub comes across as intentionally obscure and embarrassingly self-indulgent, and "A Dark Matter" is a prime example. Ostensibly an account of a terrifying event that happened to the narrator while he was in high school during the 60's, or more accurately, an event that happened to a group of the narrator's friends, as the narrator chose not to share the experience with them...as he never tires of reminding the reader, over and over and over. So this earth-shattering event that changed the lives of this group of friends, which may, in fact, have changed the very nature of reality as we know it, is only an event that the reader learns about by heresay. The narrators eyes are, perforce, the readers eyes. Since he never witnessed this Dark Matter directly, then the reader never does either. And this is a fatal flaw. I think it is Wordsworth who gives the origin of poetry as "emotion recollected in tranquility." That's all well and good for poetry...but for a story of this sort I think we need more emotion and a little less tranquility. I'm not saying that Mr. Straub needs to take his cue from the splatterpunks of the 80s. But the reader needs to actually FEEL something. The narrator has buried his memories of the event so deeply that he seems to have no real feelings about it...ergo, the reader feels nothing, too. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I did not finish A Dark Matter. But I TRIED. It's pacing is glacial. I found that my attention was constantly drifting. Mr. Straub seems oddly reticent to approach his subject matter directly, choosing instead to sidle up to it over and over again, only to slip away again. I found myself wishing he would just get to the point. One wonders if, just maybe, he was suffering (like his narrator) from a touch of writer's block. I WANTED to like this book...but it just didn't have a strong enough hook to pull me in. Life is too short to waste it reading bad books. I'm not a fast reader, but I finished The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss in less than a week, and it was nearly 900 pages. In the same amount of time, I managed to read barely 60 pages of A Dark Matter. And that speaks volumes.
jmpman44 More than 1 year ago
I've read The Talisman and Black House which Mr. Straub co-wrote with Stephen King, and thought I'd give one of his stand-alone novels a try. So, I picked up A Dark Matter and was looking forward to enjoying it. Overall, it's an extremely well-written book, and the plot and story is very good and very original. Unfortunately, I only really enjoyed half of the book. The parts of Lee and Don traveling and tracking down their old friends to try and unravel some of the mystery of what happened (You'll have to read to understand) were the parts I enjoyed reading. The monologues of their friends explaining what exactly did happen were at times almost impossible to comprehend and/or follow. Mr. Straub aimed for weird and far out there, and he hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, it may have been a bit too far out there and at times left me concentrating way too hard trying to decipher what I was reading and see it in my head. This may not be the case for some, but for me this book was a very talented writer with a very unique vision that may have proved to be too hard to put into words.
TheBeanDude More than 1 year ago
I love Peter Straub, and have read practically everything he has written, and loved pretty much everything I've read of his (my favorites being ¿If You Could See Me Now¿, ¿Shadowland¿, ¿Mystery¿, and ¿Mr. X¿), but I really struggled with this. I have read a couple of reviews saying how they were having to reread sections because it was as if they had fallen asleep, well, I kept having that same problem as well. It pains me to pan a novel by Peter Straub, but so far, this one is confusing as h*ll and very bad. I kept asking myself "what the h*ll is this even about?!" as I continued to plunge through it. All the reviews I have read about it, whether good or bad, all seem to say the same thing about the plot being about four friends recollecting an incident from their past with a guru named Spencer Mallon; and the flashbacks are all told over and over again from different perspectives. And, that seemed to be a major complaint with a lot of people. However, I don¿t even see the novel doing that! I feel it started out strong within the first 100 or so pages, but then quickly deteriorated into a jumbled confusing mess. I was looking forward to the ¿Rashomon¿ style of storytelling that I read so many reviewers claiming this book had, but it is not in here. Maybe I am reading another copy of ¿A Dark Matter¿ than everybody else read; or at least I was questioning that over and over as I struggled to keep reading this. Again, it really pains me to say this because Straub is one of my all-time favorite authors, some of his novels I hail as the best pieces of literature ever, but this is not one of his better works; matter of fact, very far from it. I finally got around to finishing the novel. And, as much as I liked the immensely layered writing, the rich characterization, and even the final denoument of what happened in the meadow as told by the Eel, the final person to share her memories with the group, I still found it to be a very deadening thud of a bad read. The writing was so textured and had some really deep hidden gems in it, but overall, when I got to the very last page, I was left thinking "so what?!" Again, this pains me to say anything negative about a piece of literature by one of the chief writers working today, but this is not a book I can recommend. But either way I am glad I read it, and I may read it again in the future, but I am sure I will come to the same conclusion, the same opinion, the same result: This was not Straub's strongest effort by far! Thank you. :>)
harstan More than 1 year ago
Nomadic charismatic guru Spencer Mallon arrives in Madison, Wisconsin accompanied by his beautiful lover Meredith Bright and subservient University of Wisconsin students, Keith Hayward and Brett Milstrap. The charmer invites several high school students which include Lee Harwell, his tomboy girlfriend, Lee "Eel" Truax, Howard "Hootie" Bly, Jason "Boats" Boatman, and Donald "Dilly" Olson to attend a night ritual. Before the sun rises, Hayward is dead and Bright vanished. Over the years each has coped differently to that horrid night that changed all of them. Milstrap has avoided responsibility preferring Peter Pan to adulthood. The Lees married, but Eel has since lost her sight. Bly was taken to a mental institution on that horrific night and remains there while citing Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter as his only form of speech. Bright came out of whatever hole she had hidden inside of to marry into power. Boatsman went from shoplifter extraordinaire to shoplifting crime prevention extraordinaire. Filly Olson has never moved on. All will converge to relive what each chose to psychologically forget about that deadly night when novelist Harwell writes a nonfiction account of the horror that still impacts all of those who attended Mallon's malevolent ritual. This is a convoluted but enjoyable horror thriller as Peter Straub keeps the audience guessing whether what happened was a group psychological hysteria or something evil from beyond. All of the survivors realize they do not have total recall of what occurred in spite of the college student's death. Although at times difficult to fathom what truly happened as murky memories make for a murky story line, fans who prefer something different will want to know what the students faced on the night that changed each of them. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed the characters and story development in Straub's A Dark Matter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First book I've read by Straub. I have read books he cowrote with Stephen King. His writing is very good, but the story is so thin and just boring. I was 200 pages in, still waiting fof it to hook me. I wound up skimming and it looks like it continued on. The "Dark Matter" seems like a bad LSD trip by some '60s students after reading too much Lewis Carroll. Lots of boring second hand accounts by other characters. Dull, dull, dull.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dark matter was a pretty good read. However, It wasn't near the top of my favorites for Straub. I didn't find too many of the characters very likable and the whole "incident in the meadow" even after reading the different interpretations was still difficult to follow. I suppose if you love Straub read it. If you are new to the author I would read Koko or the Talisman.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There's a reason this book has only two stars. It deserves it! This one needs to be on the discount Nook shelf.
scubafan More than 1 year ago
I agree with the other reviewers who are Straub fans but pretty much hated this book. I found nothing terrifying. The descriptions of the demons and visions read like an LSD trip, outrageously bizarre but with no continuity and no horror except for physical mutilations. It is never made clear what was so special about Eel or why she had the pivotal role, nor what her continuing relationship with Mallon was.A boy is murdered and mutilated and everyone there goes free. Besides not making much sense, I found the tale boring and about 4 times too long. The best part, since I listened to the audio version, was the reader whose voices help me visualize the personalities of the characters.
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LoveToReadKB More than 1 year ago
Great read...Peter Straub at his finest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
yankavich More than 1 year ago
Peter Straub is normally a great author but I don't know what he was thinking of when he wrote this. It's like someone else used his name. The story jumps around too much, I had to re-read the same pages and paragraphs over and over again to figure out what was going on. Definitely not a thriller in any sense. I kept thinking that if I read a few more pages it will get better. But nope, just got worse and worse. It was nothing like the summary explains.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago