Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk is a novel made up of stories: 23 of them, to be precise. Twenty-three of the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach-churning tales you'll ever encounter, sometimes all at once. They are told by people who have answered an ad headlined "Writers' Retreat: Abandon Your Life for Three Months", and who are led to believe that here they will leave behind all the distractions of "real life" that are keeping them from creating the masterpiece that is in them. But "here" turns out to be a cavernous and ornate old theater where they are utterly isolated from the outside world, and where heat and power and, most important, food are in increasingly short supply. And the more desperate the circumstances become, the more extreme the stories they tell, and the more devious their machinations become to make themselves the hero of the inevitable play/movie/nonfiction blockbuster that will surely be made from their plight. Haunted is on one level a satire of reality television: The Real World meets Alive. It draws from a great literary tradition, The Canterbury Tales, The Decameron, the English storytellers in the Villa Diodati who produced, among other works, Frankenstein, to tell an utterly contemporary tale of people desperate that their story be told at any cost. Appallingly entertaining, Haunted is Chuck Palahniuk at his finest, which means his most extreme and his most provocative.
©2005 Chuck Palahniuk (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"[The stories] consistently, powerfully transcend their macabre premises to showcase the heart beating beneath the horrors." ( Publishers Weekly)
"Written with the incisive brutality that accounts for Mr. Palahniuk's intense popularity." ( The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Simon on 22-02-11

Needed a good edit!

This is one I first picked up years ago but only got about 40 or so pages in before losing interest and, to be honest, it was a bit of a struggle to get through it again.

The concept was exciting - Chuck writing a portmanteau horror-ish book, a group of writers gathered together to create their masterworks all slowly going mad - but too often I found myself getting annoyed by it. With that said, several of the short stories were excellent (in particular I loved Mother Nature's story about the dark side of alternative therapies and the one about the life-saver doll) but the main problem was with the parts which joined the stories together.

There were too many characters and I was kept distanced from caring about any of them because of their monikers. I'm well used to the Chuck-isms of strange character habits but this is often in opposition to the 'normal' world - in Haunted there is nothing BUT Chuck-isms and it was just too much. It felt at times like Tom Morello's guitar playing, you appreciated the creativity but every now and again just want to shout at him to do a normal guitar solo!

This was the Palahiuk book I felt needed an editor to be whacking him across the head and telling him to cut 1/3 of it out, to cut half of the characters out, and to tone down the Chuck-isms. There was so much potential there for a cracking book but I think it just went too far and lost touch with what Chuck is often good at and that is using strangeness to highlight things which affect all of us.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Sean on 08-02-07

Love it or hate it, it's up to you!

It's difficult. Either Chuck Palahnuik is the only writer out there who tells it like it is.. like it REALLY is; or he is a new breed of ubershock scribe with the uncanny ability to transform spite and bitterness into an art form.
Town square preacher, or puke-splattered crazy in a bar? I guess it boils down to what you look for in a book. It's certainly not his best. The concept is original, and you will want to read it through. It's exciting and imaginative. It's way out there. Way out there! But it doesn't have the intense thermo-nuclear pulse of, say, FightClub.
Best way to sum it up is this. If Jane Austin occupies your bedside locker... probably best to skip it; if you like your whiskey raw, what the hell... go for it!

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Dominique on 24-05-05

True Horror -- Not for the faint of heart, stomach

I used to think Stephen King wrote gross horror at times ("Misery"), but this author makes Stephen King look like Nancy Drew (sorry to compare an author with a fictional character, but hopefully you get my drift).

This is the kind of horror novel that's frightening in that it could (theoretically) happen. Although more surreal than real, nothing supernatural occurs; it's simply the horror that people can do to themselves and to one another.

Grotesque doesn't even begin to describe it. If you are the type of person who considered "Reservoir Dogs" part-comedy because of its over the top violence, you may feel similarly about this. If you've ever laughed at the type of cartoon violence like when the Coyote is flattened in his failed attempt to catch the Road Runner, then you might be okay with this book, so long as you can think of it in that context. If you drift away from that mindset, you may never sleep again. Seriously.

My greatest challenge was simply to finish it. It used to be that I was unable to even think about certain types of torture, death, and I wanted to stop listening at least a dozen times, but then I thought, "No, I'm not going to allow a group of common words that someone placed in a certain order get the better of me." And in that way, this book caused me to grow as a person.

Think of the sickest, most taboo thing anyone could ever do, then multiply it by ten and then you'll have this book. I'm not saying this so that your morbid curiousity may cause you to give this book a try, really.

WARNING: Due to the extreme and hideous nature of this novel, before you spend the money or use up a book credit, do yourself a favor and listen to the free excerpt from this book entitled "Exodus." It's 44 minutes long and is completely self-contained. If you can stomach that, then go ahead and listen to the rest of the book.

But don't say I didn't warn you.

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69 of 70 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Tracie on 23-05-05


This book is a wonderfully written satirical look at society, civility, and the ease with which these can be shed. It is a grand rendition of "Murder by Death" meeting "Lord of the Flies" with a little bit of "Alive" thrown in for reality's sake. Unfortunately, it is not for everyone; only those who can stomach hearing the unvarnished truth about society and the potential truth about themselves will be able to stomach this. It is raw, powerful, and at times disgusting. Which, when you get down to it, is a lot like life.

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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