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For supernatural suspense, there has been nothing like it since the classics of Hawthorne and Henry James which inspired it. For sheer storytelling, no book has so sustained the hypnotic pull of narrative since The Magus. For that almost physical sense of unease a book can sometimes bring, there has been nothing like it since the hauntings of M. R. James. And yet, Peter Straub's Ghost Story is like nothing you have ever read before.
It began shortly after the party at which one of their members, Edward Wanderley, had died - or was killed. The Chowder Society, who for years had met in cutomary evening dress with the object of telling each other tales of every kind, now found themselves drawn toward the supernatural. It was some sort of solace for Edward's loss. They began to tell ghost stories - extraordinary ghost stories - ghost stories that did not always stop when the teller had finished speaking.
Then came the dreams - shared simultaneously by the Chowder Society memebers - forecasting horrors the four elderly gentlemen could scarcely bring themselves to discuss. From farms surrounding the quiet town of Milburn came the first reports of vile and senseless atrocity: animals assaulted and drained of blood in the fields. As the cruelly cold winter settled in, the freak incidents seemed to escalate, forming themselves into a sinister scheme of chaos and terror.
From California came Edward Wanderley's nephew Don, who had his own pressing reasons for wanting to join the defence against whoever - or whatever - was perpetrating this obscene outrage. As he and the reader are to discover, Milburn is up against a macabre cast of characters who appear and tauntingly reappear in different guises and who have the power to insinuate themselves wilfully upon the mind. Peter Straub's extraordinary achievement is to orchestrate this wild and ghostly fugue with the precision of a master.