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A Dark Matter Audiobook, by Peter Straub Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Peter Straub Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2010 ISBN: 9780739322420
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (1,511 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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The incomparable master of horror and suspense returns with a powerful, brilliantly terrifying novel that redefines the genre in original and unexpected ways.

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 gruesomely dismembered body—and the shattered souls of all who were present.

Years later, one man attempts to understand what happened to his wife and to his 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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • A modern-day supernatural Rashomon. . . . [A Dark Matter] leaves one satisfied, still eager for the next book by one of the most adroit masters of the supernatural thriller. San Francisco Chronicle
  • "Increasingly, Peter Straub brilliantly defies and blurs literary genres. A DARK MATTER is a page-turning thriller of every sort: psychological, sociological, epistemological. Plus, it's really scary. Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate At the Stairs

  • “A devastatingly good novel.  In its investigation of a dark ritual that casts a decades-long shadow, A DARK MATTER makes you question all you thought you knew about horror and about literature.  But it goes well beyond that: it messes with your sense of reality and then, just when you're getting your bearings, scrambles it again. Brian Evenson, author of The Open Curtain
  • "Straub’s last few fantasies have been ever more baroque, but this tall, dark tale beats them all for heaven-storming scale and wheels within wheels. Kirkus
  • “A DARK MATTER is a powerful, original and utterly engrossing novel about the palpability of evil and its costs…a novel that is nothing less than stunning. The Globe and Mail
  • “In a way, A DARK MATTER reads like a gift for longtime readers who have been longing for Straub’s return to all-out horror. But the writer does it on his own terms, beautifully blending monsters and demons and indescribable evil into a melancholy novel shaped and crafted as carefully as literature, not pulp entertainment. Straub’s writing has rarely been better or more precise. The Miami Herald
  • “[Peter Straub] is a master at blurring the supernatural, the real-world-scary and the monsters in your psyche. The Plain Dealer
     
  • A DARK MATTER shows Straub confidently regaining his shifting rhythms, offering a rich, multi-perspective take on a murky collegiate misadventure in 1966. TimeOut New York
  • "An alchemy of psychological suspense, supernatural horror and cultural history. . . . Ambitious in its scope and challenging in its telling. . . . Explosive. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
  • Peter Straub's new novel is a terrifying story of innocents-high school students in the turbulent sixties-who stumble into horrors far beyond their understanding. A Dark Matter is populated with vivid, sympathetic characters, and driven by terrors both human and supernatural. It’s the kind of book that’s impossible to put down once it has been picked up. It kept me reading far into the night. Straub builds otherworldly terror without ever losing touch with his attractive cast of youngsters, who age beautifully. Put this one high on your list. Stephen King
  • "Part Rashomon, part The Turn of the Screw. Peter Straub may well be the most important voice in suspense fiction today. Lincoln Child
  • "American master Peter Straub takes the sweep of our freaky history over the past forty years, subjects it to all the elegant gifts of madness and arts of haunting of which he is the wicked king, and finds himself in possession of a masterpiece. Michael Chabon, author of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Manhood for Amateurs

    "[A] tour de force from bestseller Straub…Brilliant in its orchestration and provocative in its speculations, this novel ranks as one of the finest tales of modern horror.
  • [A]s dazzling a literary performance as anything Straub has ever written. Booklist
  • I’ve been reading Peter Straub since I was a teenager, and his work is hardwired into my brain.  A Dark Matter contains echoes of all that has been great about Straub’s previous work and builds upon it. This Rashomon-like tale is as spooky and frightening as anything he has written,  but it’s also an intense and moving celebration of love. Out of the darkness comes, ultimately, a surprising and haunting sense of joy. Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 2/18/2014

    " Interesting read from the POV of a writer. Might have liked it less if I'd read it when I first encountered Straub in the 80s, solely as a reader. What I mean is, the ending isn't really in doubt, per se, in the sense that you're not worried about any of the characters. You know they'll be okay. It's a little like The Decameron, in a way, maybe like Canterbury Tales as well: basically a small bunch of specifically designed people (they're not stock characters; that's important) who all tell their angle or POV of the same instance. Speaking of which, An Instance of the Fingerpost springs to mind, as well. Anyway, you never see one of the major characters--except maybe briefly in an airport, and in a hotel lobby and elevator--and the whole thing may just be an excuse for Straub to go phantasmagoric on us (which he does well), but as a stream-of-consciousness step into evil, and a bit into the unknown, it holds up well. The existential scene with the boy and the cards and colors representing the realities he thinks he's experiencing was a nice touch. He still goes on a little too long about the mundane--where they're eating; what they're eating--which is a constant slight, and sometimes not-so-slight, critique of Straub as a writer for me, but he gets away with it. (One gets the feeling at this time that Straub himself cares a great deal about where he's eating and what he's eating, and that he likes the good stuff.) In short, if you like various views of the same scenes in a book, and how they're all different, yet the same, you'll like this book, and if you don't, you won't. And I don't know what the page number thing is all about, but the cover and ISBN match, which is why I chose this, but my copy ran to 586 pages, not the barely over 500 listed for this mass-market book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Isadora | 1/23/2014

    " Continuation of Straub studies. Based in Madison during the 60s fire riot, as well as modern-day Chicago and 1960s Milwaukee. Showcases Straub's ongoing fascination with birds (this time a song lark), the genesis of evil, fantasy (round orbs of the zodiac in a field: you have to read it to see it), frozen memory/moments (trauma?), and constellations of childhood friends who are brought together to re-combat evils of the past. A bit of a let-down after Floating Dragon, which I read afterward; however, Straub seems to grapple more explicitly with questions of the origins of evil and fight for goodness here than in other works. The perspective is also more hopeful. Usually his perspective seems to be, as with Cormac McCarthy, that the battle with evil is worth the fight although man will lose (Blood Meridian), but here (spoiler alert!) his quartet of heroes wins at least a partial victory. Themes of the writerly supernatural sleuth/narrator and uber-intelligent woman continue. His Eel, this time however, is on the side of good. Not as interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sierra | 1/19/2014

    " I'm not sure what to say about this book. It wasn't a bad book, it was well enough written, though the typo's were bothersome. It was a strange book. It wasn't horror, i'm not sure what I would classify it as. It was just strange. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 1/16/2014

    " This is fast-paced book that was hard to put down. Near the end I did skip some pages because there were ... activities that I'd rather not read about. On the whole a good book although is seemed to be primarily back story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melanie | 1/13/2014

    " Good story, not as scarry as I expected, but readable, entertaining and fun. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Justin | 12/21/2013

    " Just didn't do it for me. I was expecting a twist or some sort of defining explanation and all I got was fantastical jibber jabber. It just never came together for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 12/21/2013

    " A pretty entertaining book. Some themes similar to Stephen King and the author actually lifts some text from The Talisman. This author LOVES convoluted sentences even when the subject matter doesn't warrant it. Hope you enjoy the book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jaime | 12/4/2013

    " This started off with a lot of potential and then went so off the rails by the last 50 pages that I had to force myself to finish it. Sigh. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dale | 11/30/2013

    " This got such great reviews and I couldn't wait to read it. It was well written and very fast paced, but I couldn't really tell you what happened. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ryan | 11/30/2013

    " Elusive writing style that stands out at times as word sorcery. Time is a really strange idea Straub seeks to grasp in this one. A good page turner though! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michaela | 10/15/2013

    " Disappointing, I thought it was suppose to be scary, it wasn't. It was messy. I wasn't bored reading it, but I wasn't thrilled either, things that happened 50 years ago aren't scary, for things to be scary there needs to be present danger. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patrick | 8/9/2013

    " I didn't like the style that much, but it's certainly an ambitious, character-driven novel, so I'll give Straub credit for that. Certain aspects were quite good. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jeri | 6/23/2013

    " what a waste of time "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Crickett | 5/16/2013

    " To much rambling on in my opinion. Got bored with the book and had to make myself finish it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Paul | 4/10/2013

    " Couldn't ever get into the book. Ready the first 80 pages and no spark "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenna | 3/13/2013

    " The premise sounded really interesting as did the idea of multiple viewpoints of the story (sort of Rashomon and all), but the book itself just didn't grab me -- and the two main characters having the same name was confusing and didn't really do anything for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/31/2012

    " This was creepy. I loved how Peter Straub showed us these characters as teens and then adults. The story unfolded both time frames basically at the same time. It was a roller coaster. I also loved seeing the event in the field from each of their perspectives. Great story and great characters. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 faisal | 9/15/2012

    " Like almost every other Straub book, this has a great premise which goes nowhere. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elaine | 5/31/2012

    " Good writing wasted on a silly story "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lisa | 11/20/2011

    " I liked it til 2/3s in. It just failed after that.... got mushy, muddy and weird... :( "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pete | 9/13/2011

    " A great "old school" horror novel by a master of the form. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 PJ | 6/9/2011

    " The story started out good, but after awhile I only kept reading because I wanted to know what happened in the meadow. And then, once it was revealed I found i'd wished i hadn't wasted my time. In the end, I found this book absolutely forgettable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 4/23/2011

    " This book had some very exciting and creative parts to it that most people will not get, it requires a lot of imagination.
    Peter Straub is not an easy read at times but this is the book of his i most enjoyed(i have read another 6). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 L | 4/17/2011

    " You could characterize this as a treatise on the nature of love and evil, I suppose. It isn't scary, not a bit, despite the cover blurb by Stephen King ("Terrifying . . ."). Still, Straub has some good characters here, interesting situations, and a premise worth considering. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 4/12/2011

    " Not particularly scary or memorable. Just another "let's see how many odd supernatural beings I can come up with to make the other-worldly realm seem somehow fascinating." I've grown tired of this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tamara | 4/9/2011

    " It was a nice read but not scary at all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Teresa | 4/6/2011

    " Could not stop reading this but not sure I really understood what it was all about. It resonates long after it is put down and I'm sure I will be pondering on the meaning of this novel for a while yet.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dave | 4/4/2011

    " Love this - Peter is back where I first found him - writing great horror fiction... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dale | 3/31/2011

    " This got such great reviews and I couldn't wait to read it. It was well written and very fast paced, but I couldn't really tell you what happened. "

About the Author

Peter Straub is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels. He has won the Bram Stoker Award for his two of his novels and a short story collection, 5 Stories; he has also won a World Fantasy Award and an International Horror Guild Award. He received a BA in English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and an MA from Columbia University.

About the Narrator

Robertson Dean has played leading roles on and off Broadway and at dozens of regional theaters throughout the country. He has a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from Yale. His audiobook narration has garnered ten AudioFile Earphones Awards. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he works in film and television in addition to narrating.