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Ghost Story

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  69,457 ratings  ·  2,274 reviews
In life, not every sin goes unpunished.


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.
Paperback, 567 pages
Published September 1st 1989 by Pocket Books / Simon & Schuster, Inc. (first published 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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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  69,457 ratings  ·  2,274 reviews

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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
"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
May 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dirk Grobbelaar
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
I am SO glad that I finally re-read this book! I was afraid that it wouldn't hold up to my memory of it. I worried about that for decades. Silly me-I needn't have worried-it was even better than I remembered!

This beautifully written story of evil in a small town has a lot in common with Stephen King's IT as far as the small town portion goes. Derry and Milburn are similar in a lot of ways. Despite the title, this book isn't really a ghost story. Just like in IT, IT isn't really a clown.

Ghost S
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
"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

Will Byrnes
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the scariest book I ever read.
Edward Lorn
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 h
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This copy of "Ghost Story" is signed by Peter Straub. ...more
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, mystery, fiction
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).

Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 besides 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 fict ...more
Ellen Gail
Boredom, thy name is Ghost Story. I would rather de-spider my attic and/or drink straight pickle juice than force myself through one more chapter.

Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 28, 2018 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...”

And by those words The Chowder Society, a group of five diverse, old friends, changes its weekly meetings from the commonplace, which could be called fun, to dark and somber. After all, one of them has died, nearly one year to the day, with a facial expression frozen in terror. They are four now. Closer? Yes, possibly. But they are shaken. Nig
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although GRs marks this as my second read, it's actually my third. (I read this one as a teenager for the first time). One of Straub's best books, imho. Still, this is not one that promises instant gratification, or perfect closure. It's a multi-layerd novel, that leaves a lot to the imagination of the reader. Personally, I enjoy a bit of ambiguity in my horror--often what one can imagine is even more terrifying that what is put down on paper.

A "classic" read in every sense of the word.

Laurie  |  LOHF
I originally read this book back in my early 20’s, back before I obsessively reviewed everything I read, and the only thing I could remember about it was an intense feeling of boredom. I later tried to read Mystery and Julia thinking it was me and not the writing. But I couldn’t get through either of those without wishing they’d end with every page I struggled through. At that point, I put Peter Straub down for good. Or so I thought. Back in December, I decided to use my Audible credit on Ghost ...more
Kenneth McKinley
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Leo .
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book if you like to be scared. Straub is a master of this genre. I love this book and enjoyed the film starring Alice Cridge, Fred Astaire and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.🐯👍
Steven Kent
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 great writer. You have what is allegedly his magnum opus. You have a decent movie adaptation, which, though flawed, boasts a storyline original and creepy.


Having read his later thriller Koko, I'd had very high hopes with Ghost Story. But it all became apparent fairly quickly this supposed masterpiece - Stephen King calls it one of the greatest horror novels of the century or some nonsense - was really nothing more than an over-t
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: Still in South Carolina, he thought that a highway patrolman was following him: the police car was twenty yards behind, keeping the same distance whatever the man did. He thought he could see the state cop speaking into his radio; immediately he cut his speed by five miles an hour and changed lanes, but the police car would not pass. He felt a deep trembling in his chest and abdomen: he visualised the police car gaining on him, turning on its siren, forcing him to the side of the road. ...more
Sep 25, 2013 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....
Rachel Bea
Quite simply the scariest book I've ever read. There were so many fantastically creepy parts to this but I don't want to say which parts scared me because I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone else! Although I will say that the story Sears shares with the Chowder Society near the beginning of the book was probably my favorite part of the whole book because it truly was horrifying. You have to immerse yourself in it. Let the story unfold at its own pace. The way the scenes changed reminded me ...more
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A Classic horror story. I haven't read this book in many years and had forgotten a lot of it. I am glad I pulled it out again. They just don't write many like this one anymore. ...more
Jamie Stewart
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, horror
This is a reread of a book I did read well before my time on GR, I seem to have lost this book from my library somehow, sometime and somewhere, can only hope it enriched somebody else life. I git a ebook copy for free so after having read "the Black House" by Stephen king and Peter Straub I figured to return to this book.

The book starts with its almost end before returning to somewhere past the middle of the story where the beginning gets explained to the main character who is a writer. This is
Nancy Oakes
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Melody Sams
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the scariest books I’ve ever come across. The atmosphere is often creepy and foreboding, and some of the occurrences are downright disturbing. If you like horror this is probably right up your alley.
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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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