not merely superfluous, but ridiculous
this post was originally published on my Goodreads account.
It’s easier to admire the scope and plotting of this book than it is to love it. I hadn’t read anything in the horror genre in years, so oddly enough I didn’t find it very scary- it was like I’d forgotten how to be scared by a book. But I loved the book’s interaction with the American ghost story tradition (it’s not a coincidence that one character is named “Hawthorne” and another is named “James”), and how deeply Straub is familiar with the particulars of the ghost story. The way he incorporates three separate stories-within-the-story at various points, each one of which is a slightly different kind of ghost story (the middle one seems like an attempt to fuse the rhythms of the ghost story with those of the modern literary short story), each one of which feeds into the central mystery at the book’s core. The structure is insanely impressive, even before you get to Straub’s ability to juggle a huge cast of characters, until the reader feels like he’s in Milburn, NY, and knows everyone in town as though they were neighbors. If it failed to make my heart pound any faster, this book kept my mind racing for days.