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Magic Terror

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  754 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
No one tells a story like Peter Straub. He dazzles with the complexity of his plots. He delights with the sophistication and eloquence of his prose. He startles you into laughter in the face of events so dark you begin to question your own moral compass. Then he reduces you to jelly by spinning a tale so terrifying-and surprising-you wind up sleeping with the lights on.

ebook, 352 pages
Published August 3rd 2000 by Random House (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,579)
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P. Aaron Potter
Feb 25, 2014 P. Aaron Potter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Peter Straub is one of the best authors of all time, and this anthology is evidence enough to prove it. He writes circles around Stephen King, natch', but then again, one isn't reading King because of that man's fine style (with the exception of Misery), one reads King in order to wallow in a folksy story, pure campfire horror tale. Not so with Straub, whose depictions of twisted human psychology are so internally consistent that they make me suspect that (a) he's psychic and (b) he's been hangi ...more
I've decided that I'm giving up on this one. Officially quitting. I've read three of the seven stories, and I can't say that I was impressed by any of them.

The first story was just... weird. Like, "Let me think of as many weird things as possible and squeeze them into 18 pages with no connecting narrative and call it a story" weird. It was like a crazy dream that gives you an odd crawly feeling without knowing why. Creepy, yes. Story, no. OK I take that back... if you're adept at putting square
A curious collection of not-so-short fiction by one of my favorite authors, Magic Terror offers 7 tales where each is unique and not two are alike.

Indeed ,there is quite a diversity of "Magic Terror"."Bunny is Good Bread" is a disturbing, but fiendishly compelling story of a psychopatic killer being born, "Ashputtle" is equally disturbing tale of a schoolteacher who is not as kind as you might have thought. There's even an espionage story titled "Isn't it Romantic?" and a small flashback to the
Wow, it's not often you come across such an unsatisfying collection of stories from such a gifted author. A couple of them start out ok, but by the end I'd lost all interest, despite the quality of Straub's writing. From virtually every page this book screams out it's desire to be taken seriously as "literary" horror: "literary" in the sense that it's more work than fun to read. It does have its occasional enjoyable moments, but it is overall too self-aware and lacking in the seemingly effortles ...more
Scott Rhee
Jul 23, 2012 Scott Rhee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Peter Straub, in his book of short stories "Magic Terror", pushes the envelope of the horror genre beyond what is normally "safe" territory and into realms that very few writers, horror or otherwise, seldom traverse. His stories deal with human perversity, tragedy, and atrocity. Not exactly "fun" reads, although readers (such as myself) with a twisted perspective will appreciate the dark humor of some of the stories. Some stand-out stories: "Ashputtle" is a truly horrifying story of an elementar ...more
Apr 17, 2012 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A solid short story collection with only one dud, 'Hunger: an Introduction,' which is an unfocused rambling glimpse of a man's becoming a ghost.

This collection of 7 stories offers a series of portraits of either murderers 'in-the-making' or seasoned and happily practicing their alternative passion.

I listened to the Audiobook version. Beth MacDonald's matter-of-fact delivery of the first story was chilling. Ron McLarty's deep sonorous actorly voice brought the rest of the stories to life in
Feb 12, 2016 Bandit rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I think I'm done with Straub. I've tried, but none of his work seems to come close to the glory days of his early books. This collection is only the latest amplest example of it. It's certainly not magical, although Shadowland was and it didn't help. Terror was present, intermittently and often buried under piles of unnecessary extras. This collection starts and ends with duds, and only the first of which does the reader the courtesy of brevity. In the middle it gets more interesting. There ...more
Brian Schwartz
Jun 26, 2013 Brian Schwartz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I’m not a major fan of Peter Straub. I look at Straub as someone a little embarrassed by what he does and therefore, has to try to make his horror writing high brow literature instead of just letting the prose flow naturally. The literary flights of fancy in ASHPUTTLE made it hard to find what was otherwise a chilling story. MR. CLUB AND MR. CUFF also got bogged down in deep dictionary words that took away from the story. Straub ought to take a lesson from Stephen King and just try telling the t ...more
Zafir Ignatov
Rather boring collection . Two of the stories are taken from his novel " The Throat " , another one is completely out of place spy thriller . I was very disappointed until the last story came in turn " Mr. Clubb and Mr.Cuff " . Well that is hell of a story I have to give it to Straub . It is one of the most original and disturbing stories I have ever read !!! So strange , so primitively scary !
Another problem for me is the complicated prose of Mr.Straub though . It was a very very hard reading p
Wendy Joyce
May 29, 2014 Wendy Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magic Terror contains 7 vividly rendered tales of horror, though the word "horror" doesn't do the book justice. Mr. Straub is a brilliant writer who states only what a reader needs to know...and not a word more than that. The result keeps you fixed to the pages--housework and yardwork and business be damned. I read the book a decade ago, and reread it last week. Must like the first read, a decade ago, the stories haunt big, sooty ashes rising from a burn pile, free-floating and dogging ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
I usually really enjoy horror, and have enjoyed other books by Peter Straub in the past. Some of the stories in this one just left me wondering. Maybe it's just me but I didn't get it. The "horror" was in some cases just strange and weird writing that left me scratching my head. I'm still not sure what to think of this one. If I find myself enlightened after thinking about it for a few I will write a better review.

This stories in this book were just weird...strange, and weird. I have nothing aga
Alan Baxter
May 20, 2015 Alan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, thriller, crime
Seven tales from a master storyteller. They didn't all work for me, some of them being lost in the exercise of writing, victims of overwrought language. But others are absolutely shining gems of plot and character, beautifully written.

The book is worth its cover price for "Mr Clubb and Mr Cuff" alone, which is one of the best novellas I've ever read. Another high point is "Porkpie Hat", a true Halloween story. The darkly disturbing "Bunny Is Good Bread" was brutal, the reading equivalent of a j
Feb 26, 2010 Meredith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing collection of short stories. As someone who reads in bed at night, I didn't know whether to put it down so I wouldn't have nightmares, or keep reading so the bad dreams would have endings!
Pamela Scott
I thought Magic Terror was an okay collection of stories but nothing very special. I expected a lot more considering the rave reviews I’ve read and how much I l enjoyed Straub’s novels, Ghost Story and Julia. None of the stories were weak but none were particularly stunning either.

I thought this was a great story. Quite disturbing. The most disturbing aspects are what Straub leaves off the page.

I liked this story. I enjoyed the setting more than the actual story.

Raphaël Rousseau
Apr 20, 2014 Raphaël Rousseau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good collection of novellas and short stories by master horror writer straub. There are SEVEN tales. The only bad point is That there is not à single unpublished story. Peter Straub is also a master of the short story.
Nov 01, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable collection of short fiction. I had previously read "Porkpie Hat" in a Halloween-themed short story collection by various authors and loved it so much I was compelled to purchase this book. I'm glad I did! My favorites here include "Bunny Is Good Bread" (very disturbing), "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff" (a novella), and "Porkpie Hat" (still love it, even after a second reading). My least favorites were "Ashputtle" and "Hunger, An Introduction". "Isn't It Romantic" and "The Ghost Vil ...more
Sep 01, 2015 Kit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
A few of these stories really got to me. The multifaceted and rich perversions of "Bartleby" in the final story turned my head inside out.
Sean Cisneros
Every story started out very good but ended flat . Was still a decent book but expected better .
Mar 03, 2014 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a rocky start with a pair of stories that were unremarkable at best, this collection improves significantly. "Porkpie Hat" and "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff" in particular were engaging and delightful.
Jan 19, 2015 Alan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Donna Humble
Sep 07, 2014 Donna Humble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a nice collection of odd stories.
Jun 17, 2010 Kayla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-read
I did not like this book. Straub lacks the subtlety that King possesses in spades. When Straub does try to be cryptic and metaphorical with his messages, it only comes out as confusing. Straub is a fan of the "gross you out" and "disturbing" horror that seems like a cheap cop-out. He tries to beat his readers over the head with horror, instead of subtly easing them into their fear until they are in too deep to escape. Overall review: I've seen it done much better.
Steve Betz
I listened to the audiobook of this compilation of short stories as part of my commute. Briefly, I thought that nearly all of the stories had completely unlikeable "protagonists", and the stories were mean-spirited in an off-putting way. I don't need sunshine and rainbows in my fiction, but only the entrancing "Porkpie Hat" saved this collection from a single, dismal star.
Jun 05, 2014 Corinne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
short stories: only one I read was "bunny is good bread". researched to see what other people thought of it and the people who liked it must be wired differently than me. He rambles on about unconnected things. Throws out "I killed my first person when I was"... then goes back to rambling.. i don't get it and won't bother with the other stories. *shrugs*
Oct 08, 2008 Allisonperkel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Sometimes you shouldn't go back and read something by an author you used to like - when you were in High School/Freshman year.

There was almost no redeeming feature to any of these stories - they were over dramatic, poorly paced, and not the least scary. Or suspenseful. I would highly suggest passing on this collection of short horror fiction.
Stan Shelley
Oct 16, 2013 Stan Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Straub is a lot like Stephen King with whom he has co-written books. He is an extremely gifted writer. Some of the stories in this book are too weird for me.

BUT the last story is an award winning classic. Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff...really a extraordinary. Get the book and read this last story.
Feb 13, 2009 Sam added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scary
I don't remember much about these stories except: I was much, much too young to read them; they were extremely disturbing to my soft, innocent, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark-loving mind; they gave me nightmares; and I'm not sure what I'd think of them today. I actually think I selectively blocked them out.
Mar 15, 2010 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: so-k
A combination of 7 short stories, some more magic, some more terror. I got reeled in on the first story Ashputtle and would have liked to have continued with more of that story. Bunny Is Good Bread, horrific, very well written. Mr.Clubb and Mr.Cuff (stating the obvious in such a fun way)
Erin Fay
After Ghost Story and to a lesser extent, A Dark Matter, I was very ready to try another stab at Peter Straub, but this wasn't the right pick. A collection of seven short stories, Magic Terror is very well-written, but none of the stories stayed with me, as I can barely remember them.
I actually liked the last story the best, so this collection ended on a high note for me. As for some of the others, hit and miss. I liked PORKPIE HAT too...some pretty gruesome storytelling and I liked his surprise twists. You knew there was something coming but not what it was.
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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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