A Special Place, Peter Straub’s first published novella, will come to stand as one of the author’s most deeply unsettling works of fiction. A rumination on the nature of evil, the story centers on a boy, Keith Hayward, who is drawn by his nature to an irresistible fascination with death and the taking of life. His father’s brother, the good-looking, suave Uncle Till—the infamous ladykiller, who has led a shadowy career as a local celebrity—recognizes his nephew’s innermost nature and gleefully tutors him in art of doing ill without getting caught.
Even a cold-blooded sociopath must learn some lessons in survival, in seems, and Uncle Till is only happy to provide a tutorial, in the latest imaginative and disturbing work from one of America's most celebrated horror writers.
Reading this book is like being inside the head of a serial killer...except we meet him when he's only 12 years old. And he's being coached by his uncle. It's shockingly realistic and at times extremely disturbing. I've read True Crime that upset me less than this book.
All that being said it was excellently written. The prose is tight, compact. This is a novella and really a character study of a boy who will later appear as a man in a full length novel. It can be read as a stand alone. It's about the relationship between an uncle, who is a sociopath, training his nephew in the ways of not getting caught and of how to acquire and manage "a special place."