A relatively short piece about a young guru named Spencer Mallon, who is travelling in India with his spiritual leader Urdang, when he discovers that his genuine powers of healing may not be the unalloyed blessing he thinks they are. I wasn’t sure what to make of this story when I read it — it was well-enough told, but it didn’t seem to have much in the way of consequence.

Since then I’ve discovered that the character of Mallon features in A Dark Matter, Straub’s latest novel, which may help to explain things somewhat — I wonder if the story would work better for me if I’d read the novel and knew more about Spencer Mallon’s life. But, really, I’d prefer stories that are presented as stand-alone to actually stand alone, and ‘Mallon the Guru’ doesn’t do that very well.

Rating: ***

Peter Straub’s website