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Book: Ghost Story

October 7, 2008

Geez, this took me forever to read.

I’m not sure why except it was a very slow-paced book. Even once the action started (over half-way through the book) it was still slow. Painfully slow.

First things first: I liked it. It was a good book. I’d recommend reading it… on a snowy winter’s break, when you have nothing else to do except curl up on a couch by the fire and immerse yourself in a really long story.

It was sort of difficult to get into here in Northern California, when the temperature reached nearly 80 on a bright October day. Not so much. Boy do I get tired of the sun. But that’s another story.

Anyway. Long (long!) story short: Five men have a secret. They did something bad many many years ago. Something scared them badly. And now, something, something, is coming back to haunt them. And it’s taking the whole town down.

So. What happens? I don’t really know. Something gets killed over and over. There’s a few icky moments. Nothing really gets explained. There are multiple (entertaining, engaging) tangents and backstories. It’s a good story, it just… didn’t really go anywhere. But that doesn’t make it bad. It just wasn’t what I was expecting.

It reminded me very strongly of ‘salem’s Lot. Except that the first time I read ‘salem’s Lot, I was pretty terrified. This story didn’t scare me at all. Disappointing! But, this time I don’t think it’s because I have somehow developed a super-thick skin. I think it just wasn’t that scary. It really, really tried to be scary. But it wasn’t.

What it was, was long.

It could easily have been half as long and probably a lot more effective. And I am not one to complain about long books — usually, the longer, the better. But this one could have packed a lot more punch into a shorter book. But I get the feeling that that isn’t the point — the point of this book is to have it be long and drawn-out, like the best sort of ghost stories on a stormy night. It wanted to draw you in and have you sit down for a long yarn. But thing is, it wasn’t a ghost story. It was a monster story masquerading as a ghost story, and I think I didn’t like that.

I like ghosts. I don’t really care for monsters. Unless it’s a vampire. But that’s another thing altogether.

Anyway. It was a good read, very nicely written (although clearly Peter Straub wishes he was Stephen King, and I’m sorry Mr. Straub, but you’re not), and had good characters and an interesting plot. I just wish it had gone a little further into the horror that could have happened. Instead, it just skated along the surface. It was less in places where more would have been better, and too much in places where it should have hinted.

Oh well. I’ve got a whole stack of YA scary books to tackle next. I have a theory that they will be scarier than the adult horror books I’ve been reading lately. Let’s see if my theory is correct.

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