REVIEW: MAGIC TERROR BY PETER STRAUB

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Magic Terror by Peter Straub

HarperCollins (paperback), 2011

416 Pages 

http://peterstraub.net

BLURB FROM THE COVER

No one tells a story like Peter Straub. He dazzles with the complexity of his plots. He delights with the sophistication and eloquence of his prose. He startles you into laughter in the face of events so dark you begin to question your own moral compass. Then he reduces you to jelly by spinning a tale so terrifying-and surprising-you wind up sleeping with the lights on.

With Magic Terror, the bestselling author of Ghost Story and The Talisman (with Stephen King) has given us one of the most imaginatively unsettling collections in years. The terrain of these extraordinary stories is marked by brutality, heart-break, despair, wonder, and an unexpected humour that allows empathy to blossom within the most unlikely contexts.

“Bunny Is Good Bread” takes us into the mind of a small boy trapped in grotesque circumstances to portray the creation of a serial killer in a manner that compels pity, sorrow, comprehension, and grief-as well as judgment. “Hunger, an Introduction,” narrated by the ghost of a pompous, self-pitying murderer, evokes a profoundly beautiful vision of earthly life, one appreciated far more by the dead than the living. The award-winning novella “Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff,” a masterpiece of black comedy, draws upon Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” to create a revenge tale in which torture is a moral art and the revenger undergoes a transforming, albeit painful, education.

In the words of Mrs. Asch, the visionary narrator of “Ashputtle,” “The main feature of adventure is that it goes forward into unknown country.” Straub’s devotees will be entranced by what their fearless guide has in store for them. Those as yet uninitiated are in for a harrowing literary journey. Enjoy the ride.

EXTRACT 

People think that teaching little children has something to do with helping other people, something to do with service. People think that if you teach little children, you must love them. People get what they need from thoughts like this.

ASHPUTTLE

REVIEW 

I thought Magic Terror was an okay collection of stories but nothing very special. I expected a lot more considering the rave reviews I’ve read and how much I l enjoyed Straub’s novels, Ghost Story and Julia. None of the stories were weak but none were particularly stunning either. 

ASHPUTTLE

I thought this was a great story. Quite disturbing. The most disturbing aspects are what Straub leaves off the page.

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?

I liked this story. I enjoyed the setting more than the actual story.

THE GHOST VILLAGE

Another great story. Unsettling. Disturbing setting.

BUNNY IS GOOD BREAD

I loved this story. It was my favourite in the whole collection. The most powerful aspects come from what is inferred by Straub.

PORKPIE HAT

I liked this story but thought it could be a lot shorter. It was much darker than other tales.

HUNGER, AN INTRODUCTION

I thought this was an okay story. I liked the fact the narrator was a pompous ghost and I liked the story about Ethel Carroway.

MR CLUBB AND MR. CUFF

I thought this was the weakest tale in the collection. This did nothing for me.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

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