Blue Rose

December 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm (Reads) (, )

blueBlue Rose by Peter Straub

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Blue Rose is a novelette, a precursor to the Blue Rose trilogy that began with Koko, and Penguin published it in a small, thin book as part of their 60th anniversary. I found it at a used bookstore, and thought it wouldn’t hurt to add it to my to-read stack. It was cheap, it was short, and it was Peter Straub. I never got around to reading Koko and the rest of the books in the series, but this is the man who wrote Ghost Story and Shadowland, for crying out loud. You don’t pass up an opportunity like that.

The story is about Harry Beevers, the protagonist from Koko, but it tells a story of his childhood. It shows his sociopathic tendencies, but puts them into the perspective of his family. Straub doesn’t ask us to sympathize with the boy, but he does suggest that we understand him a bit better. It turns out that this story was written before Koko, which is a bit of a surprise, if only because A Special Place was published after A Dark Matter, and the former was a shorter work that attempted to show us more into the main character of the latter.

Even when Straub wrote supernatural fiction, he wrote about human darkness. Here in his later works, he turns his full focus there, where his stories do more to disconcert than to reassure. These stories have become more an more interesting to me, as I shy away from traditional horror and focus more on psychological horror. I’ve said before that external evil is somewhat reassuring, since we can remove it, and parcel it away; it’s the evil that comes from within that is less predictable, more horrifying.

Blue Rose isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t answer the reader’s questions, and it doesn’t end with an easy conclusion. It shows us what lies beneath, and makes us question who among us could be capable of such things that we see in this story. Fans of horror will probably appreciate it the most, but fans of literary fiction that examines the darker side of human nature will find a lot to pick apart.

Started: September 16, 2017
Finished: September 17, 2017

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