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Ghost Story

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  56,283 Ratings  ·  1,419 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.
Mass Market 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)

Community 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
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
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 her
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
"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 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.

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
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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).

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, 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

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....
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
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, thriller
I know that Ghost Story is just a little mass-market paperback but I don't care, I really enjoyed it. It was brilliantly written, the characters were complex, the imagery was vibrant but not overwhelming and the story was creative and original.
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
One of those rare books that will always stay with you. Superb storytelling, wish every story was as memorable.
Ken 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
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
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
Tiffany Reisz
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
SCARY AF! I think Imma need a Christmas romance after that one. WHEW.
Kealan Burke
Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
David Church
Jan 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
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
 (shan) Littlebookcove
Sep 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Horror suspense
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.
Joanne Harris
A re-reading of a favourite novel is always a rewarding experience: in this case I'd forgotten how interesting the structure of this one is, and how subtly, but implacably, the elements of horror slip into place. A fine example of how the horror genre can be as literary as any other. Slow-burning, ominous, oblique and haunting...
Jason Parent
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wasn't big on Straub when I was younger. I am not surprised to see I appreciate him much more this go around. A very textured story, with a full cast of fleshed out characters. Not everything is wrapped in a bow, but quite a satisfying ending nonetheless.
Jan 20, 2015 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
Though there were some good parts I was bored through the majority of the book. I'm so disappointed because I've been wanting to read this book forever.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Wish I could give this 3 1/2 stars. I really wanted to like this book more, but the prose was the writing equivalent of a mediocre cheesecake: dense, rich, and satisfying...but a little too heavy. The story was interesting, but not scary. Perhaps I'm a little jaded as a horror genre fan. The most I got was a little riled up toward the end.

I think the book's main fault was that Straub used too many narrative devices: flashback, journals, storytelling flashbacks, foreshadowing, and even audio tap
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
paced reading hor...: Ghost Story 100% 18 17 Oct 23, 2017 05:55AM  
Halloween books 1 7 Oct 19, 2017 05:49PM  
Gore and More: Ghost Story 5 22 Sep 18, 2017 09:10AM  
SQHS Sci-Fi/Fanta...: The past comes back to haunt 3 5 Jun 14, 2017 11:34PM  
Ghost Story Bored Me To Tears 8 34 May 20, 2017 08:49PM  
A Mysterious Force Takes Revenge. 2 5 Mar 31, 2017 09:03AM  
The Past has it's revenge 1 6 Mar 22, 2017 09:22PM  
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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...
“... 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.” 14 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.” 9 likes
More quotes…