Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Special Place: The Heart of a Dark Matter

It was in this fashion that Keith Hayward acquired the boy known as Miller.

And it was that single sentence in Peter Straub's novella A Special Place: The Heart of a Dark Matter that sent a chill right through me. If you've read Straub's A Dark Matter, published earlier this year, then you've already met Keith Hayward--and his suave Uncle Till, a serial killer known in the local rags as "The Ladykiller" and a doting uncle who recognizes and nurtures the darkness within Hayward. A Special Place sheds a bit of light on Hayward's childhood in Milwaukee, providing backstory for some of the grim events that transpire in A Dark Matter. Here we are able to eavesdrop on conversations between uncle and nephew that circle and dance around the truth of who Uncle Till really is and what Hayward is slowly becoming. It doesn't take long for Hayward to figure his uncle out, though: "They had talked long and often since that moment, but never, Keith now saw, of actual murders--murders of human beings. Here was the great dark door before which he had quailed; here was the true, the real abyss. And as he stood before it, the door swung open, and the abyss yawned wide." As for the boy known as Miller, well, you can only imagine what becomes of a defenseless boy who is rescued from bullies by a monster. The fate he ultimately meets in Hayward's "special place" will break your heart. A Special Place is Straub at his deadly best, and the contents of this slim volume will stay with you long after you've finished. Look for it soon here at the library.

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