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Ghost Story

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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  38,894 ratings  ·  834 reviews

In life, not every sin goes unpunished.

GHOST STORY

For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder.

Peter Straub's classic bestseller is a work of "superb horro

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Paperback, 567 pages
Published September 1st 1989 by Pocket Books / Simon & Schuster, Inc. (first published January 1st 1979)
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Adrian Smith Hi Jshalhov. Yes, I'm sure you'll enjoy Straub and especially Ghost Story. It's by far his best. It's a little more literary in style than early King…moreHi Jshalhov. Yes, I'm sure you'll enjoy Straub and especially Ghost Story. It's by far his best. It's a little more literary in style than early King so you may find it slower to get going. But stick with it because it's a fantastic book. I've read it several times and I'm about to do so again because it's a tradition of mine to read it at Christmas. There are some genuinely chilling moments in the novel and the whole thing has a great claustrophobic atmosphere as the weather closes in. A true horror classic in my opinion. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lou
A few words i found by Stephen King about this novel
"Probably Ghost Story by Peter Straub is the best of the supernatural novels to be published in the wake of the three books that kicked off a new horror "wave" in the seventies—those three, of course, being Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, and The Other. The fact that these three books, all published within five years of each other, enjoyed such wide popularity, helped to convince (or reconvince) publishers that horror fiction had a commercial p
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Maciek
I don't think one can truly rate Ghost Story as a novel without acknowledging the fact that it's a literary homage to the classics of the genre. Indeed, two characters bear the surnames of Hawthorne and James.

This is my introduction to the work of Peter Straub. Having read The Talisman and Black House which he co-authored with Stephen King I was anxious to know how he writes on his own, and Ghost Story came recommended by virtually everyone who has read it.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, G
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Dirk Grobbelaar
An intelligent and ambitious novel, Ghost Story has received some well deserved acclaim. That is, however, not enough. Not even close. This is a book that should be re-introduced to a whole new generation of readers. It really is that good. Stephen King himself lists it as one of the best horror novels of the 20th century (refer Danse Macabre).

I will not go into plot details at this stage, since these can be had by reading the book synopsis. Instead, in general terms, I'll try and explain just w
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Mike (the Paladin)
Not a Straub fan, but this is a good book. One of the better "ghost stories" out there (in spite of the fact that it's not exactly a story about a ghost per-se).

This is actually one of the "scariest" books I've read so far as atmosphere and actual emotional scare goes.

The villains of the piece are while not exactly "new" used in a different way than you'll see elsewhere. It might be said that the book rests on the simple idea that one reaps what one sows...though that is a huge over simplificat
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Matt
When I was a kid, I had a long list of fears. A short summary would include: tornadoes; big dogs; bullies; the basement; fire; music class; swimming lessons; spiders; cat burglars; and girls. As I got a bit older, say around middle school and high school, that list changed. Some items remained (girls, the possibility of being forced to sing in public), some fell away (tornadoes, big dogs, swimming), and some new fears were added (school dances, acne, various other complex social interactions).

N
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Apatt
“SF/F/H”, the holy trinity of genre fiction, my neck of the woods for reading. I read a hell of lot of sci-fi (SF), I read about a couple of fantasy (F) titles a year, but I've been neglecting the horror fiction (H) genre in recent years. The reason is that beside Stephen King I don't tend to hear much about exciting new horror titles. Sci-fi and fantasy books win the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards and I am always aware of the winners. As far as I know the equivalent award for horror fiction ...more
Werner
Feb 27, 2009 Werner rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any fan of supernatural horror
Recommended to Werner by: It was a group read in the Supernatural Fiction Readers group
If I'd known how good this book was when it came out in 1979, I wouldn't have waited 30 years to read it! But some of the descriptions of the premise that I'd read were somewhat misleading as to what's really going on in the book (and that comment applies to the above description as well), and its bestseller status prejudiced me against it. (It's true that sales tend to measure hype, not quality --but sometimes, as here, the hype is amply justified. :-)

Ghost Story both draws from, and significan
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Steven Kent
I lived on horror novels when I was in college--and I acquired a good collection of my favorite horror novels in hardback.

When I finished school, I sold my The Shining, my The Stand, all of my horror books except one. There was one novel with which I could not part--Peter Straub's "Ghost Story."

Ghost Story, set in upstate New York, unwinds brilliantly. It begins with the frigid voices of old men swapping ghostly stories, then settles back and unwinds as the demons of these old men's stories co
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Carol
"What was the worst thing you've ever done? I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me.....the most dreadful thing." That's how Peter Straub's GHOST STORY begins.....

Something's going to happen to the whole town of Milburn, and The Chowder Society members with their spooky stories and premonitions are right in the middle of "it"........

For Ricky Hawthorne, his law partner Sears James and friends Edward Wanderley, Lewis Benedikt and Dr. John Jaffrey, their n

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Chris
Now this was an excellent book. It probably falls in the 4.5 star category. Why not 5? It's close, I'll say that. But as good as this book is, it never really grabbed me the way I need to be for a book to get the coveted 5th star. That's no fault of the book, and it's one I could even see getting the bump to 5 in the future on a re-read.

It's slowly paced, yet not painfully slow. It's really not slow at all, but feels like it is because it takes a smooth journey. It does cover a lot of time, tyin
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Becky
BAIT AND SWITCH.
"Peter Straub's classic bestseller is a work of "superb horror" (The Washington Post Book World) that, like any good ghost story, stands the test of time -- and conjures our darkest fears and nightmares."
Oh, this book was conjuring my worst fears alright... Just not in the way that was probably intended.

I'm quitting you, book. You know why? Because you're fucking boring. Because I dread picking you back up. Because you're not in the least bit scary to me, if you don't count th
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Benjamin Stahl
I hate it when this happens. You have a wonderful writer.
You have what is allegedly his "magnum opus".
You have a decent movie-adaptation, which, although weighted down with several flaws, boasts a storyline that is both original and creepy.

description

Having read his later, Vietnam-based novel, 'Koko', I'd had very high hopes with 'Ghost Story'. But it all became apparent, fairly quickly, that this "supposed" masterpiece - Stephen King has labelled it this - was really nothing more than an over-the-top, o
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Henrik
Nov 04, 2008 Henrik rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting a superb horror story and/or with a unique take on the ghost element
Shelves: horror
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ken McKinley
Ghost Story was a ground-breaking classic written in 1979 that set the bar a mile high for any paranormal tale to come after it. Straub's story isn't a quick read. It's a slow burn through multiple layers that weave in and out of the story. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing. On the contrary, I loved the eerie atmosphere he created along with such detailed characters that weren't flat and one-dimensional. I've read a few negative reviews on here and the common theme is that it was too much or th ...more
Nancy Oakes


Do NOT I repeat do NOT see the movie before you read this book. The movie leaves out most of what Peter Straub has written. It is a decent movie, but don't see it first.

Don Wanderley lives through an encounter with a ghost, Alma Mobley, who passes to his brother (in human form, of course) who ends up dead. Don's uncle has died, as have other members of his uncle's little social group known as the Chowder Society. They are all elderly men, who meet together and tell ghost stories, stories that ha
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Daniel Barnett
Where to begin?

That's a question this book seems to have a hard time with, as its narrative jumps between past, present, stories of the past as told by characters, and even journal entries. This elaborate layering is really effective at concealing the plot from the reader for almost half of the book--a hiding-act which I found less intriguing than frustrating. I had to assign myself a chunk each day, as though I were reading for school. But, being acquainted with Straub's style, I pushed on wit
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Troy Blackford
This was a brain-rattling tale, massive in scope and disturbing in execution. Peter Straub is a master at capturing the unspeakable in the net of language and rendering magic too lofty for story in words that are usually too attenuated to contain them, and this book is testament to that skill. An entire small town comes alive in the pages of this book, only to come apart at the seams and fall, one by one. To tell too much of the story would rob the reading of its grandeur, but this is a remarkab ...more
Kirsten
A re-read of one of my all-time favorite horror novels. I've read it perhaps three or four times now, and every time it manages to creep me out. I think it might be one of Straub's best novels in terms of horror; it slowly builds until what was previously a normal Midwestern town has turned into something as horrible as the Overlook Hotel in King's The Shining.

My favorite character is Ricky Hawthorne, a thoroughly unexpected hero. Ricky is a mild-mannered, elderly gentleman whose main source of
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Elisabeth
I read this book when it first came out. Straub does not have the smoothest flow of style but he can tell a story. This one is great. Worth the extra effort necessary to get through it. See Talisman and Black House.
((and why can't these GD comment corners have spell check so I don't have to second guess words lik NECESSARY!?!?!?!?!))
Kealan Burke
One of my all-time favorite horror novels, and the one that made me an immediate fan of Peter Straub's work. A pure delight.
Marc-Antoine
One of those rare books that will always stay with you. Superb storytelling, wish every story was as memorable.
Bill
Jan 24, 2008 Bill rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: horror
First off, let me say that this is a very good story, and it had its scary moments. But I think I have some sort of problem with Peter Straub's writing. I can't quite put my finger on it but at times it seems long winded and confusing. Where with Dan Simmons and Orson Scott Card their words just seem to effortlessly flow into my mind, I find there are times when I need to reread Straub's sentences. This doesn't happen a whole lot, mind you, but it got annoying when it did, and I was glad to fina ...more
Devonta
Ghost Story was written during the big horror boom of the late seventies, shortly after Stephen King's rise to fame. Comparisons with King's work are inevitable, but at least this is comparable to King at the height of his powers - it's rather like a colder and slightly less colourful version of Salem's Lot. Straub's writing style is very good, and it's an original touch to have the central characters as four old men, so it's a shame that the plot is so formulaic - I was constantly expecting it ...more
Nick Cato
While at its core it could be considered a revenge story, Peter Straub’s 1979 classic GHOST STORY is so much more. From its mysterious road trip opening to stories told by the old men of the Chowder Society, Straub sets up an incredibly atmospheric tale set in Upstate New York.

Fifty years after a group of men accidentally kill a woman named Eva Galli, they meet to tell ghost stories as the well dressed, whiskey-sipping “Chowder Society,” but never mention Eva. They begin to have spooky, propheti
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Matt Garcia
Fantastic, creepy, surreal, and imaginative horror novel. I loved it. This book reminded me a lot of Stephen King's work, with the description of the town, it's inhabitants and the steady demise of the townspeople. That is not to say that Peter Straub is not a very talented writer in his own right. He's superb. It's just that being a hardcore King fan, I'm used to this "theme" of sorts. With all that being said, this book is brilliant. The characters were everything you could want in a novel and ...more
Mitch
Continuing my "horror and Halloween" theme for the month of October, I turned to "Ghost Story" which many consider to be the best horror novel ever written. So, my hopes were high to find a doozie of a spooky tale. And boy, was I let down.

I read a good chunk and was bored out of my mind. So I re-read reviews on Goodreads.com and kept telling myself that it will get better, oh, it MUST get better! But as I droned on and on reading this novel felt more like a chore than it did enjoyable. Many will
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Gatorman
I have to say up front that my review is probably somewhat prejudiced by all the raves I've seen about this book and how it is supposedly one of the top ten scariest books of all time. I just don't see it. It's ultimately a satisfying and well-written story, and I'd give it 3.5 stars, but it goes on for too long, drags in too many spots and is too descriptive for its own good when it simply needed to deliver a good, straightforward scare in certain spots. I did like the book overall but it's def ...more
Cathy
I reread Ghost Story every decade or so -- it never fails to satisfy. It's like a compendium of every enjoyable horror convention: fearless monster hunters, shapeshifters, deadly illusions, deserted houses full of surprises, horrible secrets from the past, cannibals, ghosts, tales told around the fire that come true ... and it's all great fun and pretty creepy.

To my great disappointment, I haven't liked anything else I've read by Straub at all -- but this book is a delight, from the profoundly d
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David Church
I have had this book sitting on my bookshelf for some time now, for some reason I always put off reading it, despite all the great reviews associated with it. The only other Straub book I have ever read was lost girl lost boy which I felt was subpar despite Stephen King’s blurb that it was Straub’s greatest work ever.
That been said I finally started “Ghost Story” which everyone said was Straub’s best and the best book ever about ghosts…etc. etc. I have to say I had to force myself to read this
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Sara
My first Peter Straub horror book I've read. I had originally tried reading it back in the 90's, but didn't make it all the way through. This time, I read the entire book. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't quite what I was expecting from a book entitled "Ghost Story". It's the story of some dark secret that haunts the past (and the present) of a group of old friends who call themselves "The Chowder Society". It's also the story of a writer named Don Wanderley whose uncle Edward was in the Chowder Soc ...more
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  • The Damnation Game
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  • The Store
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Peter Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 2 March, 1943, the first of three sons of a salesman and a nurse. The salesman wanted him to become an athlete, the nurse thought he would do well as either a doctor or a Lutheran minister, but all he wanted to do was to learn to read.

When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy
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More about Peter Straub...
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“... He was particularly disgruntled to see what he had taken for a bundle of old rags on the tracks outside was a human body. He did not say "Not again" (what he said was "Shit on this"), but "Not again" was what he meant.” 11 likes
“...nobody can protect anybody else from vileness. Or from pain. All you can do is not let it break you in half and keep on going until you get to the other side.” 4 likes
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