A Dark Matter

Peter Straub
A Dark Matter Cover

A Dark Matter


The 2010 winner of the Bram Stoker Award for best novel was A Dark Matter, by Peter Straub. Having been a huge fan of the author from my first exposure to his works (The Talisman, which he co-authored with Stephen King in 1984) I can't promise you an unbiased review, but hopefully a good one.

The book is kind of a mix of Rashamon (a Japanese film where an event was told and re-told from various points of view) and a faustian tale where someone makes a deal and ends up getting much more than they initially hoped.

The narrator is a novelist named Lee Hayward, who has been affected by an event he didn't participate in from his childhood that involved each of his best friends (including the girl who would end up being his wife). The novel follows Lee as he attempts to put together exactly what happened on a day in 1966 when four of his friends accompanied some college kids and a sort of cult leader-type to try and perform some sort of ritual which ended up causing the death of one of the college kids and the disappearance of another.

The story works by describing the events from the point of views of each of the people involved and although they all describe the same event, there are some significantly telling differences between the versions we read. In the end the novel definitely spooked me, gave me some chills and then actually left me with a strange sense of hope. Totally worth the read.