Monday, November 25, 2013

A Dark Matter.

Title/Author: A Dark Matter by Peter Straub 

Narrator: Robertson Dean. 

Publisher: Random House Audio. 

Source: Library. 

Synopsis:  The charismatic and cunning Spenser Mallon is a campus guru in the 1960s, attracting the devotion and demanding sexual favors of his young acolytes.  After he invites his most fervent followers to attend a secret ritual in a local meadow, the only thing that remains is a gruesomly dismembered body - and the shattered souls of all who were present.

Years later, one man attempts to understand what happened to his wife and friends by writing a book about this horrible night, and it's through this process that they begin to examine the unspeakable events that have bound them in ways they cannot fathom, but that have haunted every one of them through their lives.  As each of the old friends tries to come to grips with the darkness of the past, they find themselves face-to-face with the evil triggered so many years earlier.  Unfolding through the individual stories of the fated group's members, A Dark Matter is an electric, chilling, and unpredictable novel that will satisfy Peter Straub's many ardent fans, and win him legions more.
My Thoughts: A Dark Matter is a very imaginative and beautifully written book. Straub is a master at writing and he is able to give a lot of attention to detail.

This story is told in a roundabout way from the point of view of the aged characters about what happened to them during a mysterious summer when they were teenagers. Most of them, with the exception of the narrator and main character, Lee Harwell, fell under the influence of a “hippie-New Age” guru named Spencer Mallon. One night this group, led by Mallon, performed a ritual and when it was over everyone was changed irrevocably and one of the initiates was dead and mutilated.

Because he was not present and because he was not interested in being one of Mallon’s groupies, Lee feels he is the best person to write this story. One of the acolytes is his own wife, also named Leigh, and through the course of the book he finds his old friends and they tell him their experiences of that night and what happened to them in their lives after.

A Dark Matter is an intriguing book.  I wanted to know what was so strange and bizarre about the ritual and that part followed through in a way, but it was a lot of existential thoughts to follow as was the whole book. The theme delves into the realms of good versus evil and how the group encountered the concepts, manifestations and consequences of evil, chaos and other realms. However, I think I would have liked it to have included more of a paranormal aspect. From the synopsis, I thought it was going to be a gruesome tale that focused on the teenager that was killed.  A kind of supernatural whodunnit.  But the dead body almost wasn't the main focus.

Yes, the ritual changed everyone, but the characters went on with their lives. It was kind of like they experienced this alternate reality and then either went insane, went to jail or went on with their lives. I kind of felt the ritual and what happened didn’t live up to the suspense about the secretive nature of it.

The characters were interesting, but I feel that a lot of them were very similar to each other. I can’t say I found myself attached to any of them.

Narration: The narration wasn’t bad, but it reminded me of a science teacher speaking. Dean did the female voices well which I appreciate in a male speaker.

Wrap Up:  I love Peter Straub. I really do. I met him a few years ago and he is the kindest gentleman you ever want to meet. I love some of his other works, but A Dark Matter was a difficult book to wrap my head around. Maybe I’m not deep enough or ascended enough. However, I still have more Straub books to read and A Dark Matter has not put me off this wonderful author.


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