I had heard so many good things about Peter Straub, but I haven't read his famous ones - Ghost Story or The Talisman with Stephen King. This came up as available from the local library and the premise seemed promising, so I checked it out. I was saddened that I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped.
Let's get the best thing from my point of view out of the way: It's creative and not gory. I'm a horror fan, not a splatter fan. I want to be creeped out, not sickened. Straub did that well, with the few references to blood and guts mostly passing and not the focus of the scene. And I did love the creativity - this was well-thought-out, not simply another ritual goes bad story.
The trouble I had was that in the avoiding splatter, Straub seems to have gone so far into symbolism that even for someone who understands a lot of the underlying myths upon which he draws, it's not always obvious where he's going. Only one of the characters is really at all likeable, and I am not sure it's the one he wants us to be liking. The rest are so symbolically drawn that, while they manage to avoid being two-dimensional, they're not relatable. I didn't really care about them all that much, with one exception. Sadly, I found that I could have put this book down and just shrugged - "well, I'm not smart enough to get it." That's not a feel I want.
There are some simply gorgeously drawn scenes - I particularly liked one involving Lake Michigan - and the actual ritual itself is visited enough times to become more and more clearly delineated. I liked that for the most part. If only the characters had drawn me in more - maybe I'll try another one of his and see if I like it better.
Three of five stars.
Horrible book. Peter Straub has forgotten how to write.
I found it to be extremely boring and hard to follow.
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