Peter Straub is a Wisconsinite; he was born and raised in Milwaukee and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his undergraduate education. He has a master’s degree from Columbia University, and at least started a Ph.D. in Dublin. He’s apparently a famous writer of poetry and horror novels; the latter have won him several Bram Stoker awards, as well as leading to several collaborations and a friendship with Stephen King. Later this year, his novel The Dark Matter will be published; as well will this novel, which is actually the same book. The Skylark is the mostly-unedited, 200-manuscript-pages-longer version, which Mr. Straub wanted preserved, so Subterranean Press is doing so.

In the mid-1960s, a group of high school friends fall under the influence of a magician-philosopher-charlatan named Spencer Mallon. The influence ends abruptly a few months later when something horrific happens, but nobody can quite determine what actually occurred. The fifth member of the group, who was not involved but was still friends with the bunch, is a famous writer, and while trying to write his memoirs, gets stuck dead at the point when the ‘something horrific’ happened. More than anything, he needs to find out what that event was, and so he finds his old friends, to figure his past out. (more…)