GHOST STORY by Peter Straub
Kirkus Star


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Largely cloned from the classic Night of the Living Dead, this is an overlong, lukewarm chiller with some superb moments. There's an elaborate, confusing framing device that never really clicks into place, but the tale proper begins in the small upstate N.Y. town of Milburn, where the five elderly members of the Chowder Society meet regularly to drink fine booze and tell each other creepy stories. One of their members died a year ago, his face contorted with sheer terror, and since then the four remaining members have been sharing the same horrible nightmare in which they see each other already dead. The eldest and richest member writes to the dead man's brother, a California writer, asking him to come to Milburn, check on his dead brother's house, and perhaps join their society. Well, it just so happens that this writer is the author of a novel about a race of quasi-immortal dead beings who coexist with man but are never seen. And, as it turns out, of course, this is exactly what is happening in Milburn--an onslaught of the ""living dead"" (at least twelve people die) while the town lies gripped in the worst cold snap and blizzard in history. Threading the horrific events is the career of a lady ghoul who takes many forms and whose history goes back to silent films--and there's a knock-out sequence in a small-town movie-house filled with real ghouls marching about while Night of the Living Dead plays on the screen. Typical of the padding here, the fine climax is followed by 40 pages of anticlimax, but for those who are susceptible, this is a truly ghouly mishmash.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1979
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan