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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  10,159 Ratings  ·  272 Reviews
Two school friends, Tom Flanagan and Del Nightingale, become apprentices to a powerful magician.
Paperback, 480 pages
Published February 15th 1987 by Berkley (first published 1980)
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Leo .
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book I read when I was a teenager. It is a fantastic book by a literary great.
Finished reading it again recently while I was away. I enjoyed it again. Five stars.👍🐯
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of fantasy and magic
Peter Straub came to prominence in 1979 with Ghost Story, an old fashioned spooky ghost tale which I wasn't really a fan of (though I appreciate it). A year later, in 1980, he published Shadowland, a coming of age novel which can be classified as dark fantasy with horror elements. This time, I say, he penned a winner.
Shadowland is concerned with the friendship of two boys - Tom Flanagan and Del Nightingale - which began at the private all-male school they both attended. As both try to fight the
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
I could only make it through half this book before I just had to quit. Another Straub novel that did not work for me.
Dirk Grobbelaar
May 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, horror
Revisited Review

I really enjoy this kind of horror. Shadowland has an elaborate build up, and the reader invests quite a bit in the story before things start going awry. This means that you actually do care about what happens next…

There’s also a very “real world” feel to the events, however bizarre things eventually turn out. You almost, almost feel that this could actually happen. That being said, I wasn’t using the term bizarre loosely just now. This is one sinister story, and if the body cou
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not sure what happened here, although I suspect it was the case of success bloat. Straub's first ventures into supernatural (If You Could See Me Now and Julia) were lean, mean thriller (thrilling)machines. Shadowland must be where he veered off into the prolixity of later years. I had such high expectations for this book based not only on how much I liked the Straub's aforementioned works, but also on the love I have for the subject. Magic, how can you go wrong with magic. It's innately fun. And ...more
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the more surreal moments, as well as the occasional switches in narratives, made this book a little hard to follow at times, but there IS a reason I gave this book five stars: it was terrific. It's not the all-out horror fest that the cover (of the 1980's paperback) promised, but there were some truly gruesome scenes towards the climax, as well as a general tone of mounting tension throughout.

Tom Flanagan is a very memorably three-dimensional young protagonist, and all the conflicts of c
Rick Urban
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During the extremely unsatisfying experience of reading Lev Grossman's "The Magicians", I kept thinking of how much better Straub's treatment of similar themes was, so literally the minute I finished "The Magicians" I went to my bookshelf and picked out this book to re-read. With it's nods to everything from Grimm's Fairy Tales to Hans Christian Andersen to John Fowles' The Magus, this is both a literate homage to the art of storytelling and a gripping story in its own right. The tale of two boa ...more
Mar 10, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really a fish walks by eating a taco want to like this tiiiiin rooof book but rusted? I just get sidetracked once there was a mouse and a squirrel, but that was a long time ago just kept getting distracted a taco walks by eating a fish by the trippy dream sequences the sound of a thousand mute voices saying nothing and random interjections did I have a point? and I'm pretty sure am I me? that in the end nothing nothing? really yes nothing, remember the moral of the fish taco? happened.
Thomas Strömquist
This book was my January 2016 buddy read with super-reading buddy Edward Lorn. For a number of reasons, we abandoned it that time, at close to half the book read. Edward suggested it was time to give it another chance and I'm grateful for that! At the same time, I can understand the way we struggled with it the first time around; the read is not like much else, even if I'm having a quite hard time pinning down what sets it apart.

The story, which is quite well-known I guess, I won't go into it a
Jan 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't even review this. I hated it. Finishing it was like Chinese water torture. I just.. Hated it. I have no idea what the point was... It was just... Ridiculous and bad and ridiculously bad.

I don't want to waste another moment thinking about it, so that's my review.

Not recommended.
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Peter Straub can do no wrong apparently. 5 stars, all the way!
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As you can see, it took me forever to read this book. Some parts were beautifully written, but it really felt like 2 books in one. The latter being a struggle that literally took me years to finish. I just hated the ending. It was weird and strange and took too much imagination to even make sense. I can't say how much I didn't enjoy this book. It wasn't for me. I'm struggling to finish Koko as well which is making me apprehensive to start Ghost Story. I really want to like Straub, but his writin ...more
The first part of this book really wraps you up in the young characters lives--makes you feel as if you know them a little, the rest gets wilder by the page, as the boys make a trip to the magicians house.....evil magic....and a magician looking for THE ONE to cary on in his place when the time comes (he doesn't care a bit that one is his nephew). There's friendship heartbreak, a girl who the two wonderfully written young boys both want. Then things get trippy, and then trippier (the bugs bunny ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
What I'm about to say is extremely unfair, but : I have SO blown my teenage sorcerer emotional wad on Harry Potter, I had absolutely ZERO interest in these characters. It's as clear as day to me that J.K Rowling had read SHADOWLAND before writing Potter, but it's such a longer, broader and more immersive project than Peter Straub novel, I kind of shook my head and denied Tom Flanagan and Del Nightingale any emotional connection on my end. I laughed these guys out of the room. No way whatever the ...more
Nora Black
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Often-times, the less fashionable is subjugated to the lower shelves of desirability, than the in-thing. In this way Peter Straub's tour-de-force- “Shadowland”, has been relegated to the untalked-about, the lesser-known realms of fantasy and magic. Making it a work that, sadly, few of the younger generation have read.

If the now people, readers of Erin Morgenstern, Casandra Clare and Suzanne Collins, opened their minds, they would discover MAGIC comparable to any flights of fantasy the aforement
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book again, some 30 years plus, after I first stole it out of my school library. Same edition, yellowed by time. I've always said this was one of my favourite horror novels, and this re-read, all these years later did nothing to dissuade me from this opinion. It's a classic horror tale, which upon second reading I see similarities in minor ways to Stephen King's The Shining.
In this book two boys spend a summer at a magician's house, the magician being the uncle of one of the boy's, Del
Cody | codysbookshelf
Despite the fact that Peter Straub is my second-favorite author, I always go into his books with a slight sense of trepidation and doubt. Straub is an excellent writer, no doubt about that; his books just require a certain frame of mind because... well, they aren't always as they seem. Straub is the king of hidden meaning and messages, and he enjoys confusing (errr.... "challenging" -- let's go with "challenging") his readers. I enjoy that about him -- his books always make me really think, whic ...more
Kevin Lucia
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a joy to re-read. One of those tales that alternatively leaves you gasping in awe, and feeling just the tiniest bit of despair, because you know it's impossible ever to match this as an author. But even so, loved it, and I'm still also amazed how much of my early reading of Straub played such a huge influence on me when I was first finding my "sea legs"...
Gregor Xane
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This was really a good book except for one scene involving Bugs Bunny. Bugs Bunny? Come on, someone should have told Mr. Straub to cut this scene. It added nothing and detracted from the overall mood of the book.
 (shan) Littlebookcove
I'm not going to lie I found this book a struggle by the time I got to the middle of it, I had totally forgotten what the start was! So this review is going to be a struggle.

A person meets the now adult Tom Flanagan in a bar on the sunset strip. From there Tom gives the guy what as the reader finds out involves a strange surreal tale of Adolescent reminiscence . That starts in a private posh school for boy's were he meet's a boy called Del nightingale. From there we find out that Del has a knack
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those wanting to read intricate yet classic stories of the weird
Shelves: horror
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carl Alves
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shadowland was one of the first horror books I read growing up (I think I may have been twelve at the time that I read it). Along with some of the early works of Stephen King, it was one of the big reasons I became addicted to the genre and later became a writer. Shadowland is a richly written, complex books that I quickly became engrossed in. Shadowland follows two friends Del and Tom in boarding school. Both boys are into magic and dabble at it while they are in school. After the school year i ...more
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-pre-12-07, own
This is one of my favorite of Peter Straub's novels. It's a creepy take on the idea of the Sorcerer's Apprentice -- only in this case, the sorcerer may be more dangerous than anything his apprentice can cook up. There are loads of references to fairy tales here, which are fun to try to place, and I love the way that Straub makes it difficult to figure out what's real magic and what's just sleight of hand.
Rick Soper
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books. There are just so many layers to it, some which are explained, and some that aren't, but in the end you just don't care because there so many visual images that get buried into your head that the entire experience of the book is just overwhelming. Uncle Coleman's tales just get under your skin. And whatever that thing is in Skeleton's room makes me shudder. And what the Grimm brothers are doing just popping up in the middle of thing, I'll never understand. But i ...more
Tobin Elliott
I finally finished this train wreck of a novel. Another one that I read when it first came out, but I definitely had better memories of this than what I just experienced. I kept waiting for it to get good. I kept waiting for something to happen. I kept waiting for old men to stop pontificating about their life histories...because, didn't I just read that in Ghost Story?

I must say, the first, non-Shadowland third wasn't horrible. Mostly pointless, and could have been done in more like fifty pages
Susan Nicol
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book from start to finish. I read it a while ago and am just due to meet someone who's actually modelling their house around this book and its rooms, so I thought I'd better refresh my memory. I'm a real fan of this sort of maniacal magic story telling, where nothing is it as seems. The story of Tom and Del and Rose is so interwoven with treachery and teenage angst. I found the one sexy scene in the book, where Rosa reaches into Tom's trousers and gives him relief from the sexual ur ...more
Jun 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was a kid in high school. It is truely a horror about a boy who went to a school and finds an underlying secret club that practices real magic. It is done in subtle details and is why I constantly believe Peter Straub is a true magician with words himself. The story is told with such realism and the writing itself is lively, most particular the scene in which the boy is nailed to the wall. Perhaps, in the author's own study, I would go as far to believe there is a Number ...more
Sharon Roy
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definately one of his best books.Has vivid descriptions of the main characters thoughts and feelings throughout, because of his age everything is still new and things await discovery which dont always turn out as you'd hope but the journey is the best part of childhood the destination not always as important.
DeAnna Knippling
Excellent, but I can't give it five stars--many passages dragged, the ending was a loose bundle of WTF, and a lot of stuff really heavily set up in the beginning just kind of fell by the wayside. Where Dark Matter did the same kind of thing, but in a way that wouldn't let me go.
R. Claire
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The King of Cats

In the first chapter of Shadowland is the retelling of a scary little English folk tale (one that M.G. Lewis, author of the classic Gothic novel, The Monk, once terrified Percy Shelley with). It creeped me out too.

"A traveler, in other words my friend, was journeying on foot to the house of a companion — not me — where he was going to spend the night. He had been walking all day, and even though it was already late and night was coming on, he was tired enough to rest his feet whe
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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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“You'll never get anything done if you walk around with an unchipped heart.” 16 likes
“To do magic, to do great magic, he has to know himself as a piece of the universe.

A piece of the universe?

A little piece that has all the rest of it in it. Everything outside of him is also inside of him.”
More quotes…