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A dark matter : a novel
Peter Straub
Adult Fiction STRAUB

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In this tour de force from bestseller Straub (In the Night Room), four high school friends in 1966 Madison, Wis.-Hootie Bly, Dilly Olson, Jason Boatman, and Lee Truax-fall under the spell of charismatic "wandering guru" Spencer Mallon. During an occult ceremony in which Mallon attempts to break through to a higher reality, something goes horribly awry leaving one participant dead. Decades later, Lee's writer husband interviews the quartet to find out what happened. In Roshomon-like fashion, each relates a slightly different account of the trauma they experienced. Straub masterfully shows how the disappointments, downturns, and failed promise of the four friends' lives may have stemmed from this youthful experience, and suggests, by extension, that the malignant evil they helped unleash into the world has tainted all hope ever since. Brilliant in its orchestration and provocative in its speculations, this novel ranks as one of the finest tales of modern horror. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Forty years after a horrific event experienced by a group of high school seniors, the now middle-aged participants individually review what happened. In 1960, under the spell of a charismatic, slightly older man who claimed special powers, the teens had been led to share what may have been a delusion or an actual, spectacular murder. The author's well-recognized skill in building suspense and subtly revealing aspects of character strengthens this complex plot. The basic question-is evil innately human, or is it something external?-is appropriately and perhaps disturbingly left for the reader's speculation. While hints of the presence of supernatural beings are dropped frequently, there are repeated but only brief mentions of bloody slaughter rather than the extensive juicy depictions that TV and videogame addicts might expect. VERDICT Bram Stoker Award winner Straub's (Ghost Story; Lost Boy; Lost Girl) latest offering in new wave horror will thrill his many fans and attract new readers. A very good choice for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/09.]-Jonathan Pearce, California State Univ. at Stanislaus, Stockton (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Spencer Mallon
Performed an occult ceremony which went horribly wrong and resulted in a death and a missing person.

Hootie Bly
A high school friend died during an occult ceremony he was involved in years ago; sent to a mental institution right afterwards; quotes lines from Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter".

Lee "Eel" Traux
A high school friend died during an occult ceremony she was involved in years ago; lost her sight after the incident.

Lee Hayward
Lee's husband; writing a book on the ritual ceremony he and his firends performed years again which resulted in the death of one of their friends.

Jason Boatman
A high school friend died during an occult ceremony he was involved in years ago; shoplifted when he was younger.
Police officer

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