Karen's Reviews > A Special Place: The Heart of a Dark Matter

A Special Place by Peter Straub
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's review
Mar 12, 2011

really liked it
Read on March 12, 2011

Dark psychology abounds in this brief tale of a budding killer (a young boy) who is being tutored in murder, deceit, and sociopathy by his already darkly experienced uncle. The reader knows from the first page when the uncle explains the neccesity for our main character to find "a special place," in which to do secret and horrible things, that this novella will not end well. For me, it ended abruptly. I wanted much more of the tale, but alas, it was not to be. This is a small slice of two disturbing lives, penned by an obvious master in the horror of the human soul. It's the first work I've read by Peter Straub--I don't know how this is possible given my love for this type of story--and makes me want to read more, longer stories of his. Apparently the young boy in this tale has been featured in one of Straub's novels, a fact I didn't know until I read the afterword. Perhaps if I had read the longer story first, I would have been more satisfied. As it was, I didn't see much progress in either the boy's or the uncle's characters. We know from the start that this kid is a budding sociopath, and he ends a budding, if more experienced, sociopath. Just when the story got to its climax, it was over. I get the point--that this is just the beginning of our young killer's swath of destruction--and I see how it is appropriate for the story to end in the spot it did, yet I wanted the tale to continue. This desire obviously means I appreciated what Straub had to show me, even if it was disturbing as hell. I found myself comparing Straub to King and finding many similarities--all good things. Straub fans should certainly read this short tale.

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