Thank you NetGalley and Doubleday for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: February 16th, 2016
Synopsis: Peter Straub has spent forty years at the forefront of modern literary horror. The stories assembled here represent his astonishing range and his ability to terrify, transport, and hold a reader hostage.
“Mr. Clubbing and Mr. Cuff” is a darkly comic masterpiece in which a stern estate lawyer known as the Deacon hires a pair of “Private Detectives Extraordinaire” to investigate and seek revenge on his unfaithful wife. In “The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine”, a man and his much younger lover explore their decadent and increasingly sinister fantasies on a luxurious yacht in the remotest stretch of the Amazon River. “Blue Rose”, finds violence and power in the hands of the most innocent among us, leading to a conclusion that is fully surprising and devastating.
Each story cracks the foundation of our reality and opens our eyes, taking us further and further into the darkness that normally remains deeply, and safely, hidden. Interior Darkness is the gold standard of literary horror.
If anyone had told me I’d be giving a Peter Straub novel a two star rating, I would have said “No way! Never! Nuh uh!” Yet sadly, that’s exactly what I find myself doing and I can’t tell you how disappointed I am.
The first problem is that every single short story in this collection has already been previously published in other anthologies, so if you’ve already own them, there’s nothing new here. My real issue though is the quality of the stories. This is supposed to be some of Straub’s best works, but except for a couple of the stories, at best they’re boring, at worst they’re stomach turning and repugnant. A grown man with a fetish for baby bottles, a child being molested in a movie theater, these are just a couple of the revolting offerings. I did like the first story, Blue Rose which explores how childhood innocence can turn so terribly wrong when having the power over someone else is introduced, and Pork Pie Hat which is a creepy tale told by a jazz musician about why he never goes out on Halloween. These two came the closest to recapturing the Peter Straub I’ve known and loved since I was a teen. Unfortunately they’re not enough to save this book. There were several times I really felt like giving up, but since I had been approved for this e-Arc by the publisher I felt I had an obligation to read the whole thing. I usually advise people to try a book even if I didn’t care for it, but honestly, please spare yourselves from the horror I inflicted upon myself.
If you’re a long time fan, I really wouldn’t bother with this, and if you’re new to Peter Straub, I suggest you try some of his brilliant classics like Ghost Story, Shadowland, and The Talisman, and Black House, which he co-wrote with Stephen King.