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Ghost Story

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  47,932 Ratings  ·  1,127 Reviews
What was the worst thing you’ve ever done?

In the sleepy town of Milburn, New York, four old men gather to tell each other stories—some true, some made-up, all of them frightening. A simple pastime to divert themselves from their quiet lives.

But one story is coming back to haunt them and their small town. A tale of something they did long ago. A wicked mistake. A horrifying
Mass Market Paperback, 567 pages
Published April 15th 1980 by Pocket Books (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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Jan 24, 2012 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, paranormal
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
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
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
Edward Lorn
Nov 10, 2015 Edward Lorn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Literary horror fans
First and foremost, I would like to thank Jessica (Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile) for this awesome addition to my collection.

Back in 1995, my family and my fifteen-year-old self moved from California to Alabama. The week we arrived in Alabama (Mobile area) Hurricane Opal decided to make landfall. Most of our stuff was still on the back of my brother-in-law's flatbed trailer. The most important items lost (for me, at least) was my mother's book collection. Whilst in California, Mom called her
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, horror, mystery
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).

Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 11, 2015 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror
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
"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 t
Oct 30, 2015 Apatt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
“SF/F/H”, the holy trinity of genre fiction, my neck of the woods for reading. I read a hell of a 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 ficti ...more
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
May 11, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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

Feb 20, 2015 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghost, group-read, re-read
One of the best written stories I've ever come across!

2015: Still a classic....
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
Feb 27, 2009 Werner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
One of those rare books that will always stay with you. Superb storytelling, wish every story was as memorable.
Ken McKinley
Feb 20, 2015 Ken McKinley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, own-paperback
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
Jan 24, 2008 Bill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Benjamin Stahl
A Heartbreak Hipster Review

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.


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 m
Sarah Anne
Apr 11, 2016 Sarah Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah Anne by: Nathan
I really enjoyed this. It was kind of a blend of things that you see in other stories (The Turn of the Screw and 'Salem's Lot in particular) but he did it in a way that kept it fresh and only used an element here and there. Enough to make you smile if you were familiar with them but not enough to be irritating.

And then there's the story! It's eclectic and utterly unique. I'm not even properly shelving this because I don't want to give away some of the weird twists and turns that happen along the
 (shan) Littlebookcove
I struggled with this. The plot was really good, but took a while to develop and build I think. Otherwise, it was really good the char's themselves you learned more about them as the story thickened. Not so much a spooky feel with this, but more suspense feeling towards the end, though the story slams down. And you understand what's going on. all in all a good read.
Oct 17, 2015 José rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lectura conjunta del grupo Letras Macabras reseña en español en mi blog: Click Aquí

Ghost story is considered Peter Straub's best book and Stephen King says that it's "one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century", with such endorsement I had high hopes for this book and it didn't disappoint me.

I have to say that this wasn't a light read, the first half of the book is full of details that become important later on the story but if you endure, the second half of the book is truly amaz
David Church
Jul 25, 2013 David Church rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 04, 2008 Henrik rated it it was amazing
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.
Kealan Burke
Jan 30, 2008 Kealan Burke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Wayne Barrett

This is a re-read for me and I'm going to keep my original 5 stars attached.

Admittedly, the book didn't quite wow me like it did the first time I read it, but that was almost 30 years ago, I knew the plot going in and I have a whole lot more experience in the horror genre, so I don't get that same stomach punch shock as often these days.

Still, Ghost Story is a masterfully written, classic horror story. there are enough layers involved in the story that there is no way an observer could deny th
Daniel Barnett
Jul 30, 2014 Daniel Barnett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nancy Oakes
Jan 21, 2009 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror

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
Matt Garcia
Aug 08, 2013 Matt Garcia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Troy Blackford
Mar 16, 2014 Troy Blackford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 09, 2016 Nathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
I enjoyed Ghost Story very much. I'm not surprised, this kind of book is right up my alley. After the halfway point, it didn't go where I expected at all.
Apr 03, 2016 Janice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first I had a hard time with this book. For about 300 pages, I was going back and forth with quitting it. So, so glad I didn't, such a creepy, scary story! I was truly quite frightened at times. As great as "The Shining," Rosemary's Baby," and some others written around that time period. Haven't read a good supernatural/horror book like this in ages.
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The Read-a-Thon-ers: Ghost Story Prologue 24 16 Dec 30, 2015 01:19PM  
The Read-a-Thon-ers: Discussions for Ghost Story 12 19 Sep 01, 2015 12:42PM  
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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
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.” 13 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.” 6 likes
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