Behrg Reviews: "Floating Dragon" by Peter Straub
Floating Dragon feels like what you'd get if Robert McCammon and Nick Cutter decided to ghostwrite a Stephen King novel together, switching back and forth between sections without anyone going back to revise. It's dense and absurdly overwritten, the individual scenes are often fantastic, but trying to pick up the bread crumbs from start to finish leads you on a winding road that not once gets you anywhere close to grandmother's house.
The story follows a band of characters who discover their ancestors formed a band of characters to fight off an evil that plagues the town of Hampstead, Connecticut, and who must now fight off an evil that plagues the town of Hampstead, Connecticut. An evil in the form of a floating poisonous gas that escaped from a government facility, and also a mass murdering psychotic doctor, and also the reincarnated spirit of the previous mass murderer who their ancestors had to defeat, who may or may not be possessing the psychotic doctor and may or may not have been responsible for the spilling of the government gas. And also in the form of the hallucinations that plague the town (along with the evil) causing fires that aren't really there but that still burn down houses or cause kids to go drown themselves in the river. And also there's a mirror and creepy things happen around and in it. Oh, and did I mention that some of our band of heroes have telepathy or can see back into the past, if only to allow us to read in real time everything that happened to those former band of characters?
I'm not sure I would have made it through this labyrinthine novel without having committed to a buddy read with Mr. E. Lorn, but as chaotic and downright frustrating as this book can sometimes be, there are also spectacular moments with some of the finest writing you'll ever read. It is Straub, after all. At times it feels like you're the only sober one listening to a drunkard's rambling tale and then in the next moment you feel those jaded little heartstrings being pummeled, emotions pulled from you you had no plan on revealing. I will say, as tumultuous of a flight "Floating Dragon" was, Straub completely sticks the landing. It almost makes that drunkard's tale worth listening to.
One of those books I'm glad I tackled but will never return to. As one of the characters says near the final showdown, "If we're going crazy, at least we're doing it together." I'd recommend this one only if you have someone to go crazy with too.