Showing posts with label Horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Horror. Show all posts

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand by Stephen King


4.34  ·  Rating details ·  480,421 Ratings  ·  14,149 Reviews
The Stand by Stephen King
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

“That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery.”

“Show me a man or a woman alone and I'll show you a saint. Give me two and they'll fall in love. Give me three and they'll invent the charming thing we call 'society'. Give me four and they'll build a pyramid. Give me five and they'll make one an outcast. Give me six and they'll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they'll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.”

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side.

Or you don't.”

“The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.”

“People who try hard to do the right thing always seem mad.”



 

Reviews


You know what’s really scary? Getting sick while you’re reading the first part of The Stand. Just try running a fever, going through a box of tissues and guzzling the better part of a bottle of NyQuil while Stephen King describes the grisly deaths of almost every one on Earth from a superflu. On top of feeling like crap, you'll be terrified. Bonus!

After a bio-engineered virus that acts like a revved up cold escapes from a U.S. government lab, it takes only weeks for almost all of humanity to succumb to the disease. A handful of survivors are mysteriously immune and begin having strange dreams, some of which are about a very old woman called Mother Abigail asking them to come see her. More disturbing are nightmares about a mysterious figure named Randall Flagg also known as the Dark Man or the Walkin’ Dude.

As they make their way through an America almost entirely devoid of people, the survivors begin to unite and realize that the flu was just the beginning of their problems. While some are drawn to the saintly Mother Abigail in Boulder Colorado who tells them that they have been chosen by God, others have flocked to Flagg in Las Vegas who is determined to annihilate all those who refuse to pledge their allegiance to him.

If King would have just written a book about a world destroyed by plague and a small number of people struggling in the aftermath, it probably would have been a compelling story. What sets this one apart is the supernatural element. Flagg is the embodiment of evil and chaos. He's a mysterious figure who has been giving the wrong people the push needed for them to make things worse for everyone, and he sees the plague as his chance to fulfill his own destiny as a wrecker of humanity.

And on the other side, we have God. Yep, that God. The Big Cheese himself. But this isn’t some kindly figure in a white robe with a white beard or George Burns or Morgan Freeman. This is the Old Testament God who demands obedience and worship while usually rewarding his most faithful servants with gruesome deaths.

King calls this a tale of dark Christianity in his forward, and one of the things I love about this book is that it does feel like a Biblical story, complete with contradictions and a moves-in-mysterious-ways factor. Stories don’t get much more epic than this, and King does a great job of depicting the meltdown of the world through the stories of a variety of relateable characters. (Larry Underwood remains among my favorite King creations.)

One of my few complaints is that this features a lot of King’s anti-technology themes that he’d use in several books like Cell or The Dark Tower series. We’re told repeatedly that the ‘old ways’ like trying to get the power back on in Boulder are a ‘death trip’. The good guys gather in the Rocky Mountains, but if they try to get the juice going so they won’t freeze to death in the winter, they’re somehow acting in defiance of God’s will and returning to the bad habits? Not all tech is bad tech, Mr. King. Nature is a bitch and will kill your ass quicker than the superflu.

Here’s another thing I’m not wild about. When this was published in the late ‘70s, the bean counters at King’s publishers had decided that the book as written would be too pricey in hardback and no one would pay a whopping $13 for a Stephen King hardback. So King cut about three hundred pages.

Around 1990 after it had become apparent that King could publish his shopping list as a best seller, he put those pages back in and released the uncut version. Which I’m fine with. The original stuff was cut for a financial reason, not an editorial one, and there’s some very nice bits of story added in. If King would have stopped there, we would have had a great definitive final version as originally created by the author.

Unfortunately, he seemed to catch a case of Lucasitis and decided to update the story a bit and change its original time frame from 1980 to 1990. I’m not sure why that seemed necessary to him. Yes, the book was a bit dated by then, but it was of its time. He didn’t rewrite the text (Which I’m grateful for.), but just stuck in some references to Madonna and Ronald Reagan and Spuds McKenzie.

This led to a whole bunch of anachronisms. Would students in 1990 call soldiers ’war pigs’? Someone in New York picks up a phone book to look up the number to call an ambulance instead of dialing 911? A song called Baby, Can You Dig Your Man is a huge hit? None of it quite fits together. There's also a layer of male chauvinism and lack of diversity that you can overlook in a book written in the late '70s, but seems out of place for a book set and updated for 1990.

The things that irritate me are still far outweighed by one of my favorite stories of an apocalyptic battle between good and evil.

I’m also glad to get a long overdue audio edition of this book. Great narration and 40+ hours of end of the world horror make for a damn fine listening experience.
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M-O-O-N spells spectacular!

I first read THE STAND in the early 80's. It was during the Christmas break- I lived out in the boonies with my family, and after the holiday hoopla was over -I planted myself in my favorite chair and sat there for 4 days devouring every page-(only leaving for bathroom breaks, meals and sleep).

30+ years later my reading experience was a little different. I read it with my Goodreads friend Lisa- who had the uncut version, while I had the original- I stopped and started as she caught up- there were huge amounts of messages back and forth- on the characters, the differences in editions, who we loved- who we hated, and everything and anything we could think of to discuss. It was a month long read...

...but the one thing both experiences did have in common was- I LOVED IT each time!!
At a remote U.S. Army base, a strain of influenza is accidentally released. Despite a lock down- soldier Charles Campion is able to escape with his wife and child. By the time the military is able to track his whereabouts- Campion has spread the disease around parts of Texas- triggering a pandemic which kills off 99 percent of the population.

The one percent are left in survival mode- spread out over the entire country and plagued by strange dreams about two individuals which eventually draw some to Nebraska and some to Las Vegas.
Hemingford Home, Nebraska- Is the home of Abagail Freemantle— "Mother Abagail" a 108 year- old woman who receives visions from God. She is the embodiment of good.
Las Vegas, Nevada- is where Randall Flagg has set up shop- Randall is also called The Dark Man and The Walking Dude. He lives to cause death and destruction and has supernatural powers which allow him to be human, animal or demon. He is the embodiment of evil.
King said that he "wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting"- and that is just what he did. THE STAND is a wonderful epic fantasy adventure about good vs evil- One that I would recommend to anybody who hasn't read it yet, and even to those who have!
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I never get tired of reading this book. It's my absolute all time favorite reads. Every once in a while I have to go back and read it again and again....and it's just as good as the first time I read it those many years ago.

1st Review

The end of the world where humanity takes a stand between good and evil.
I am a Stephen King fan and whilst I have read most of his books, The Stand has remained my all-time favorite. I read it when it was first published in 1978 and I was really happy when a longer and uncut version came out in 1990 and have since read it many times. It remains an incredible, riveting and unforgettable story. The ultimate post-apocalyptic/horror/fantasy and thought provoking novel.

The following content was provided by the publisher, giving a brief synopsis of the story and information on the 1991 uncut version.

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

In 1978 Stephen King published "The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. But as it was first published, "The Stand was incomplete, since more than 150,000 words had been cut from the original manuscript.

Now Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety. "The Stand: "The Complete And Uncut Edition includes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending.

What emerges is a gripping work with the scope and moral complexity of a true epic.
For hundreds of thousands of fans who read "The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are reading "The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.
This is one book that’s left a lasting impression on me and I love picking it up and reading it all over again and again. How quickly and easily greed, corruption and playing the Hand of God can bring humanity to its knees and even with the possibility of their total extinction. That thought is not that far fetched with all the stuff that’s being done today, all in the name science. Hah!!!!!!!!The plot line which is divided into three parts/books follows the experiences of the plague survivors before, during and after the catastrophe and the roles they play in the story. It’s dark, intense, terrifying and uplifting…there’s hope, faith, religion, love, hate, fear, fate and redemption. A suspenseful and emotional build-up to the final face-off of good versus evil. There’s a meaning to everything that happens in the story – the betrayals, the dreams, death and births. There is nothing random in anything.

But it’s the realistic and deep characterization that’s astonishing. Complex and well developed characters that leap off the pages. It gives us a deeper understanding using the viewpoints of many of the characters – their back stories show the differences in the morality of humankind.
The vivid descriptions make the plot and characters so real and believable.

There are so many great characters in this story that some have left a lasting impression on me.
Stu Redman, a quiet, moral and unassuming character that inspires people to continue their fight against evil.

    “Men who find themselves late are never sure. They are all the things the civics books tell us the good citizen should be: partisans but never zealots, respecters of the facts which attend each situation but never benders of those facts, uncomfortable in positions of leadership but rarely unable to turn down a responsibility once it has been offered . . . or thrust upon them. They make the best leaders in a democracy because they are unlikely to fall in love with power.”
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M-O-O-N. That spells “Damn, what a great book!”

I knew King had it in him, I am a fan of his brilliant 1977 haunted house thriller The Shining, but I did not expect this.

The best post apocalyptic novel ever?

Maybe, that is a broad category teaming with great work from talented writers, but King’s The Stand is an epic, genre defining work.

My friend Michael has a profile statement, something to the effect of finding our next 5 star rating. I like that sentiment, and am excited by the opportunity that our next favorite book is out there waiting to be read; a new best friend of an author to whom we’ve yet to be introduced. Here’s mine. I’m late to the party, just reading this for the first time in 2015. I think I was always a little intimidated by the length. It’s a beast, and I was a glutton for punishment reading the 1990 extended version, weighing in at a heavyweight 1153 pages. But it’s a runaway train, grabbing the reader up and taking him or her where Stephen King wants to take you.

Yes, it’s a book about a devastating plague, but also so, so much more. King weaves in an allegory about the viruses amongst us. There is also the spiritual quality of the book, King shows how we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, and that dreamers will survive – and survivors can still dream.

I could not help making a comparison with the Left Behind series, and associating Flagg to Nicholai Carpathia – though King’s characterization is far more complex and well rounded, and like Milton’s Satan, the most interesting character here is the villain. This makes me appreciate his The Gunslinger series and I want to search out Flagg and read more about him.

This is also an American epic and in its context an American eulogy. King shows us the good the bad and the ugly of what we are and what we can be. An observant reader will see references to Ursula K. LeGuin (word for world is woods), to Jim Morison, Edgar Allan Poe, Woody Guthrie, and hell even Rod McKuen.

I know Mr. King and have enjoyed many of his works and I have now been amazed by his finest.
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     The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.


So I finally finished this gigantic brick. This freakin' gigantic heavy brick, and all I can say is, this is probably the best freakin' brick ever made. With a heaping 1439 pages, this book managed to hurt both my wrists, and probably injured some of my fingers. That's the price I had to pay to read this amazing novel. I never thought that I wouldn't finish this, fuck it I never even thought of putting this book down and read something else for the meantime. All I can say is, Stephen King managed to impress me again. Not that I doubted him though.

Its a typical thing for King to serve us with multiple characters with different stories, and plunge them together at some point. And as usual, some were amazing, and some were dreadfully boring unforgettable. This was also my experience while reading Needful Things, but his characters here are way better. I got an in depth description of each one, and I either loved or hated each one. That technique of King is truly remarkable. What goes best with an amazing plot? Well, freakin' amazing characters that's what. Ask me who my favorite is, and I'll probably end up describing most of them instead because I loved almost all of them.

I remember complaining how long the novel is. I've read quite a few epics, but all of them were way shorter than this. When I finished though, and pondered upon what could've been excluded, none came to mind. I believe everything happened for a reason, or let me rephrase that, everything was written for a reason. You can't really take out something from the story, because then the plot holes would reappear. The length of the novel is proportional to the enjoyment I experienced while reading this.

Once again, the characters were amazing and fully developed. I actually cared for them, and I didn't want them to die. This novel focused on the battle between good and evil, in a lengthy epic like feeling. We have Mother Abagail on the good side, and Flagg as the devil. It's King's second time to introduce a devil-like character, and the character turned out just as amazing. Flagg truly depicted a strong devil. He's really a strong character that I would love to read more about in his other novels (really hoping for a guest appearance).

Harold is the one I hated the most while reading. That pig really annoyed me. Everything he did was really annoying, and I wanted him to die at one point in the novel. Although I do have to point out that I hate him for a good reason. My hatred of him led to a better enjoyment of the novel. We all hate a character, and we want to see awful things done to them. I'm more than satisfied with the characters King created.

Lloyd and Nick were really amazing too. One is part of the dark team, and the other of the good team. I'm not gonna spoil who belongs where. All you need to know is that Nick's a kickass deaf-mute, and Lloyd's an annoying yet funny character. Tom's really cool too, despite being a retard. I didn't care for him that much in the beginning, but things started to change as I read along.

Stu and Fran's story would have to be my favorite of all the ones in the novel. Ever since the early parts of the novel, Fran's story already caught my interest, and it continued till the end. Larry Underwood's also really interesting. His pride overcoming him then more awful things happening really kept me interested in what would happen to him. I'm only going to mention those characters though, because who would want to read a spoiler and ruin their reading experience right? Those 3 are my favorites, but that doesn't mean that the others were boring. I will repeat, almost all the characters are amazing. There will obviously be a few that would stand out, and those 3 are my choice. Wait, I forgot to mention another favorite, the freakin' dog Kojak!! I always love dogs in novels. Kojak didn't disappoint!
Okay, enough feet kissing and let me get on with some negative aspects of this novel.

The back of the book states that "The survivors who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge - Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg the nefarious "Dark Man", who delights in chaos and violence. Yes, both of them possess those amazing qualities, but I don't think it's right to say that both of them are the leaders of the novel. I get that people in the novel looked up to the both of then [in fear and in doubt] but neither of the two became my genuine favorite. I really liked them both, yes, but that's that. Randall's really outstanding with all the violence don't get me wrong, but Mother Abagail was presented as somewhat disgusting . Obviously opinionated, but hey, aren't all reviews opinionated?

Maybe I should've said that I had one problem, because that's all I can think of as of right now. I had problems along the novel though, but all [except the one stated above] were resolved. Major problems like plot holes and all were resolved at the end of the novel, and that's awesome. Mostly when I read a novel, the problems that I had while reading didn't get fixed. The Stand proved itself otherwise. The main problem would be that we tend to complain even if we're not yet done with the novel.

The ending's really great. I'm not going to complain anymore because I really liked it. It gave me closure, and honestly, the ending's really witty. You'll have to read it yourself, but I really liked it. I'm not gonna put it in a spoiler tag anymore, because there's no reason to do so. Just read this amazing novel and see for yourself. Once again, real witty of you King. This is why you're my favorite author.
So to wrap things up, this is now my favorite King novel. It is clearly superior to The Long Walk and Needful Things, both in length and substance. I'm not saying don't read the other two, because they are both amazing in their own ways, and I'm also recommending them. The Stand is just King's novel that had the biggest impact on me, as of now. Such a shame to say that he's my favorite author yet I believe I've read less than ten books of his, and I've only read this now. I'm planning to change that soon though, I can't wait to read more amazing novels written by King. 5/5 stars, and a worthy addition to my favorites list. A clear recommendation, and I can say that this is one of my best reads of 2014.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/149267.The_Stand

IT by Stephen King

IT - A Novel by Stephen King


4.19  ·  Rating details ·  505,427 Ratings  ·  13,548 Reviews
IT by Stephen King download or read it online for free here
IT by Stephen King
To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw - and felt - what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

“We lie best when we lie to ourselves.”

“Your hair is winter fire
January embers
My heart burns there, too.”


“Maybe there aren't any such things as good friends or bad friends - maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you're hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they're always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that's what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”

“Calling it a simple schoolgirl crush was like saying a Rolls-Royce was a vehicle with four wheels, something like a hay-wagon. She did not giggle wildly and blush when she saw him, nor did she chalk his name on trees or write it on the walls of the Kissing Bridge. She simply lived with his face in her heart all the time, a kind of sweet, hurtful ache. She would have died for him..”



Reviews


The most important things are the hardest things to say, because words diminish them...

Some time ago the wise bald (or white) heads stationed at various universities came to an agreement that a literary form, commonly known as the novel, is dead - fewer and fewer works of any significance are written each year. Of course, one must understand the requirements the wise gentlemen expect of a novel of worth: it would be good if the writer would include some "aesthetic dignity" by including as much allusions and connections to other previous works of literature - consciously, that is. The language must also be exquisite; preferably obsure and as incomprehensible as possible, drawing from earlier works of worth and including metaphors and allusions to them. If the author by any chance happens to include a plot in his work, there is a good percentage of possibility that his work will be deemed unworthy, and forever excluded by the adacemia.
Or at least as long as these wise gentlemen live.
Of course, the reader is not expected to understand, not to mention enjoy the work of worth - no one reads anymore, the wise men would say; people read rubbish like Danielle Steel when Bold & Beautiful is not on the TV. And, by God, no such novel of worth can ever be popular - after all, the intelligence level required to appreciate it is apparently not met by the 90% of world population.
A literary figure who is as popular and appreciated like The Beatles? Whose work is admired by thousands of people? And the possibility that these people might learn something from it? That is simply not possible - the wise heads mutter in unison - that is simply not possible! Ask people who know!
Ask us!

History, as we know it, has a nasty habit of repeating itself - though in this case something good might actually come out of it. Writers have been criticized before - most notably Twain and Dickens - and yet, their work is still read and loved by whole generations of readers. Their fiction is taught in schools. Huckleberry Finn has been deemed as vulgar and impropable, much od Dickens's work was described as overtly sentimental, but it prevailed - which can't be said about those who concerned themselved with being the so-called "Arbiters of Literature". In the end, they couldn't grind the knives because they weren't theirs to wield.
The bones of those who tried to define "literature" perished; the works they so often tried to banish did not. No one remembers (or cares) about those who tried to defy the power of Twain or Dickens; they are immortal through their works.
People perish; books do not. No one cares about the boy's club of the literati, who cry out words of rage from the ivory tower, instead of helping people understand the joy of reading, understanding and believing. The main principle of art is to evoke; the problem is, not many of the educated seem to understand that even simple things can evoke great emotions. But they too will go down in history without leaving any mark on it, forgotten and alone; and I believe that there will be a lot of bodies turning in their graves when some titles enter the school curriculum.

"IT" by all means, is not a simple novel. To classify it as a "horror" story is the same as saying that "Moby Dick" is a very long manual on whaling. To say that it is all about the monster is to say that the whale is the villain of the piece.

We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest
fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.
-Robert McCammon

Although vulnerable and physically weak, two factors that make them perfect victims, children posess strenght that most adults had lost in the painful process of maturing - the strenght of imagination. A child feels and experiences emotions much more intensely than an adult, but their unique imaginative capacity allows it to cope with the seemingly impropable much more efficiently. Hence when in 'Salem's Lot an adult faces a vampire, he fells down dead from a heart attack. When a child faces one, he is able to go to sleep ten minutes later. As King puts it, "Such is the difference between men and boys".

King has been depicting children throughout his whole career, and his child characters have subsequently grown older, along with his own children. "IT" is in my opinion his best novel with child protagonists; his most elaborate, complex one. It's also one of his longest, if not the longest.
The lenght is appropriate, because of the theme: After all, it deals with childhood. Childhood defies Time; a day can last forever, and the summers are endless. And then we grow up, all these years pass, just like a blink.

Kids are bent. They think around corners. But starting at roughly age eight, when childhood's second great era begins, the kinks begin to straighten out, one by one. The boundaries of thought and vision begin to close down to a tunnel as we gear up to get along.
-Stephen King, Danse Macabre

Children also posess another one of the invaluable assets that most adults strive to grasp, and it still seeps through their fingers, like sand: Time. Children experience the passing of time differently not because time actually slows down for them (that would be a neat thing indeed) but because they occupy a vastly different social position than that of an average adult. Most adults are forced to work and take care of their families, offspring included. Their imagination is dimmed by the countless hours spent on labor, and for most it never really comes back...the disilusions of experience push it farther abd farther down in the dungeons of the mind, until we finally forget that it was even there in the first place.
Until we forget what we are possible of...what adventures we can create, what worlds and realms, completely out of the whole cloth.
When you are a child the hours lazily pass by, the only important matter is to get home from school and after throwing the backpack in a corner going to get your friends and hanging out with them till dinner...and then go hang out with them some more.

The imagination is an eye, a marvelous third eye that floats free. As children, that eye sees with 20/20 clarity. As we grow older, its vision begins to dim . . . and one day the guy at the door lets you into the bar without asking to see any ID and that's it for you, Cholly; your hat is over the windmill. It's in your eyes. Something in your eyes. Check them out in the mirror and tell me if I'm wrong.
The job of the fantasy writer, or the horror writer, is to bust the walls of that tunnel vision wide for a little while; to provide a single powerful spectacle for that third eye. The job of the fantasy-horror writer is to make you, for a little while, a child again.

Most children experience more during one summer vacation than some adults throughout their whole life; They have their precious innocence, they haven't been spoiled by work, by taxes, by bills and other things that each of us has to face at some point in life. There is always food in the fridge, and there is always roof over the head; and if there is not, there is always hope that there eventually will be, and friends that help to keep it.
Children do more and see more because they can; when school ends, the day is theirs. Their schedule is not as strict as that of an adult; their duties not as responsible. Therefore, they do not have to trouble themselves with money and shelter, and even if they do they are easily able to push these matters away and concentrate completely on what they are doing right here and now.
With little breaks for homework and chores children can spend the whole day playing make-believe with their precious friends, and sometimes the boundaries between the real and the imagined become thin, and sometimes they vanish altogether.
Sometimes their thoughts take shapes...and sometimes their fears do too. Sometimes they joy is almost tangible...and sometimes the boogeymen come out of the closet.
And sometimes they are real.

"IT" is a story of a group of children who are not among the most popular, strongest or smartest; a tale about the group of seven friends living in Derry, Maine in 1958. They form the self-called "losers" club and encounter a horrible, awesome force lurking in their hometown...a force feeding on fear and devouring young children. A force that adults do not seem to see; a force that appears as a clown, holding a hand full of baloons.
The seven children all have one thing in common: they encountered IT. They had all escaped...and that one summer of 58, the seven friends have confronted and defeated IT.
Or so they had thought.
28 years later a young homosexual is thrown off a bridge in Derry...it seems like a classic, clear case of homophobia, but the testimony of one of the witnesses changes everything.
He claims he has seen a clown under the bridge...a clown and a cloud of balloons.
Mike Hanlon, the sole member of the losers who remained in Derry calls the others and reminds them of the promise they had made all these years ago...a promise sealed in blood. A vow to return if IT wasn't dead. If IT will come back. And apparently, IT has.
Can they face IT again? Can they go back to the horror they have long forgotten?
They faced the terror as children. It was their time to take action, and they managed to fight it. Now they are all grown-up...but it is their time,too.
Will the monster be bested...or will IT FEED?

"IT" is composed of two nonlinear narratives. The first is the story of 1958, where we meet the children and they first encounter IT; King effortlesly interleaves this timeline with the story of 1985, where the adults return to Derry to fight IT, basing on research that has been done on the subject and their returning memories. IT avoids the problems of most other lenghty books: plot threads that go nowhere. Each of them is important, and only adds to the suspense and builds up to the shattering climax.

If there is a thing which places King above most other writers, it certainly is his great understandning of adolescence. Few others manage to write so vividly and convinclingly about childhood and coming of age.
The unquestionably hard time of growing up - school, bullies, parents, first crushes - they are all here, and the reader feels as if he himself was experiencing them. King allowed me to re-live my past again; I wasn't around in 1958, but if I were I would undoubtedly be one of the boys. It is truly an impressive experience to read how King builds his characters and the world they live in.
Which of course includes stormdrains...which might be empty, but then they might be not.

IT also manages to adress important social topics: racism, prejudice, domestic abuse. But most importantly it is a story about friendship and childhood: How it irrevocably binds people together and affect their lives. About the power of memory and imagination; about the terror of the familiar world which hides many secrets around the corners and down in the sewers. It's a study of children facing the uncanny, and overcoming their greatest fear: the fear of being alone in fright.
IT is a story of seven friends, each different, each indispensable and irreplaceable.
stuttering Bill Denbrough, the unlikely group leader;
Ben Hansocom, an overweight boy, with a talent for architecture;
Riche Tozier, the brilliant witty boy of many voices;
Mike Hanlon, the black kid who comes to the group to find acceptance and finds it;
Eddie Kaspbrak, the asthmatic and fragile boy who finds within the group a thing he has never dreamed of - courage;
Stan Uris, a sensible boy who brings understanding;
and Beverly March, the sole girl in the group, an redhead who is both sweet and tough, and helps the boys in most dire of moments.

King has proven himself earlier to be capable of producing an epic narrative (The Stand in 1978), but I think that IT is equal to - or even surpasses - the story of the plague.
This is a brilliant novel, beautifully told in crisp, clear prose, with truly unforgettable characters and situations. It is the essence of good fiction; the truth inside the lie. King knows his way around the corners; and has that undefiniable look in the eye, the dreamy look of a child. His words are the best set of toys he ever had; and he's generous enough to share them with us. And when he's showing us how his trains travel along the tracks of his imagination and where they go to, we won't dare to blink because we could miss a minute of the experience...even when the carriage passes through some dark tunnels.

And if it is the work of an "inadequate writer", a producer of "penny dreadfuls", without any "aesthetic value" or other high-flown pretentious gibberish babbled by people who would most likely want to cast Stephen King and his readers to hell for destroying the image of "Literary Reader"?
Like Huck Finn, I'd shout loud "All right, then, I'll GO to hell!"
Literary Heaven might have a better climate; but Literary Hell sure has better company.
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 You can't be clowning about IT!!!


THOSE TERRIFYING CLOWNS

It was easier to be brave when you were someone else.

It's kinda..."funny" how such characters, the clowns, that they are supposed to make us laugh, and not matter that, you can find just too much examples of "evil clowns", many from fantasy but even at least one from horrific reality, that you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley...or any place at all!!!

The Joker, Stitches, Homie from The Simpsons, Punchinello from Dean Koontz's Life Expectancy, The alien clowns from Killer Klowns from Outer Space movie, Doctor Who's Robot Clowns, Spawn's Violator, Rob Zombie's Captain Spaulding, Fucko from the Scary or Die film, The Clown Doll from the Amusement film, also the quite recently Twisty from the Fourth Season of American Horror Story, and even, from real life, the serial killer John Wayne Gacy aka The Killer Clown.

Even, while not terrifying, but indeed quite annoying, there is Binky from Garfield cartoons.

And those are only the examples that came easier to my mind and that I watched or read about at some point.

So, why society is so inclined to accept and being really scared of a kind of character that was supposed to make us laugh? Of course, if they are chasing us with butcher knives, that helps to input the scary factor, but be honest, even in the first moment that you watch them, before they would do anything nasty, you are already scared with them. They look terrifying!

Just like the one that it's breathing behind you right now...
 THE POWER OF LIES

We lie best when we lie to ourselves.

Sorry for the lie on the last line of the previous section. But it was just to introduce the most powerful element of this novel...

...the lies.

I think that Stephen King, showed us how powerful can be the lies.

The Losers Club were lying themselves pretending that nothing unusual happened on their childhoods. Even some of them were keep lying to themselves that their adult lives were okay. Lying in such powerful way that their memories are fractured.

The adult people of the town of Derry were lying themselves too about the sexual preferences of some of their fellow neighbours.

The town's Police officers are lying on their reports.

Some moms were lying that their children had some illness.

Pennywise is lying about ITs own real appearance to everybody.

Lies, lies, lies!

Some of us prefer to lie ourselves than facing our lives.

The temptation of lying and creating false "realities" instead of dealing with the harsh truths.

Lying ourselves instead of facing the real monsters in our lives.

Even sometimes, lying ourselves that we haven't any other option than to deal with the monsters alone...

...when there are people around us willing to help us, if we just tell the truth.

But telling the truth about our problems, many times is even scarier than the lies.

All of us float...

...between lies and truths.
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WHAT A RIDE
First off, I'd like to start out by saying I DON'T NORMALLY LIKE STEPHEN KING. If you look at the other books I've read so far (Carrie, The Shining, The Gunslinger, and Different Seasons), they have all been rated 3 stars or less. Yet somehow, this book really spoke to me. I will also say that the reason I picked this up in the first place was because of the new movie adaptation, which was SUPER GREAT, but also super different from the book in many ways. I'm so glad I decided to pick up the book though, so thank you movie for making that happen!

The last 50 or so pages dragged a bit for me, but all in all I loved pretty much everything about this book. The plot was intriguing, and while it was a pretty slow book overall (and over 1100 pages at that!) I never found myself getting bored or sick of reading it. The characters were really well fleshed out, and by the end of the book they all felt like close friends.

I've heard many people complain about the sort of non-linear narrative, saying it's confusing, but I thought it was perfect for this book! The past and present sort of meld together seamlessly, and it was very artistic and added a lot to the story for me. I also thought it was neat how in the last part of the book, sometimes it wasn't entirely clear whether or not you were reading about the past or the present, but it still made sense somehow.

Lastly, I love how Stephen King deals with the idea of fear and how it can become a physical thing. I've also just recently watched The Mist where a similar idea exists, and I think it really adds a new level of terror! On the surface this book seems like it's just about a clown running around killing children, but really it's about a seemingly all-powerful being that feeds off the fear of Derry, and boy is Derry full of fear. OH man it's so freaky, but in a more surreal way than I expected. So I will say if you're wary of picking up this book because you think it will be full of scary stuff, I'd say don't worry; the new movie is scarier (and even then, it's mostly just bloody).

I want to say EVERYONE PLEASE READ THIS but at the same time I know it's definitely not for everybody. It's full of swearing, bullying, racism, homophobia, sex, domestic/child abuse, and plenty of blood and guts to go around, but all of those things had a purpose and added to the theme of fear and how it affects people. Like I said though... Not for everybody. lol.
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Be true, be brave, stand

I'm astonished, what a book!

We all float...

You want scary? Pennywise is here and he'll scare the be-Jesus out of you every other page. Pennywise made an entire generation scared of clowns when the film came out, kinda topical now that all these assholes are roaming the streets in clown outfits. Suffice to say I'm extra scared to go for a walk!

Above all, the best thing about this book is that it's wonderful. King manages to capture the essence of childhood and what it means to have a close group of friends. It's quite similar to Boy's Life in that respect.

I was a tad reluctant to read this having watched the film and due to the 1376 pages (which took me over a month to read!!) but it was absolutely worth it. The ending, I think is better and there is, naturally, more story.

The way it's written also highlights how talented a writer King is. He seemlessly jumps from kids to adults throughout. I doubt anyone could have pulled this off as clearly and as beautifully as King does.

Although genuinely horrifying, this book captures childhood wonder perfectly and receives all the stars. King at his very best, I know it's a bit of a doorstop but it's worth it, trust me!

He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/830502.It

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Stephen King - The Shining 02 - Doctor Sleep


4.1  ·  Rating details ·  118,908 Ratings  ·  13,819 Reviews
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King download or read it online for free here
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless - mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky 12-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the "steam" that children with the "shining" produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant "shining" power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes "Doctor Sleep."

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan's own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra's soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

“FEAR stands for fuck everything and run.”

“There came a time when you realized that moving on was pointless. That you took yourself with you wherever you went.”

“The good thing about being old, is you don’t have to worry about dying young.”

“Life was a wheel, its only job was to turn, and it always came back to where it started.”



Reviews


Get ready. If I can make just one recommendation: whether you're a longtime King fan or fairly new to his stuff, it wouldn't be the worst thing to read The Shining before you get your hands on Doctor Sleep. 
Seasoned fans know that the movie, while engrossing in its own right, is very different in many ways, and doesn't even begin to plumb the psychological depths that the book does. You could read and love Doctor Sleep without doing so, but I think people's experiences of this sequel will only be enriched by first checking out one of the mothers of all horror novels.
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A sequel, huh? I didn't feel much for Danny when I was going through The Shining since Jack Torrance pretty much had me by the balls, but I guess - this being a Stephen King book - I can give it a try.

Oh, who am I kidding?
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There is a boy (now a man) a girl, a band of baddies with a charismatic leader, a coalition of the willing, battles to be fought, supernatural elements and magical powers. Stephen King was at this long before Harry Potter lived under the stairs. He has a preternatural (not to say supernatural) talent for writing kids, and can keep you turning pages, losing sleep, and getting back late to work from your lunch breaks.

We will presume for the purposes of this review that you have read, or at least seen one version of The Shining. If you have not, read no further, as there are details here that would be considered spoilerish were they to appear in a review of that book. And if you have not read The Shining you should probably do so before taking on Doctor Sleep, a sequel. Ok, everyone here has read The Shining, yes? All right, but we are using the honor system here, and do not want to ruin the fun of reading that one for anyone. So, as long as you’re sure…

At the end of The Shining, three people survive the carnage, Danny Torrance, a five year old with a special gift, Wendy Torrance, Danny’s mother and newly widowed wife of the late Jack Torrance, and Dick Halloran, an employee of The Overlook and possessor of a gift like Danny’s, one that allowed him to hear Danny’s psychic 911 call and return from his home in Florida in time to do something about it. What happened next?
King does not typically do sequels, if one does not count books that are part of a planned series, but

    Every now and then somebody would ask, ‘Whatever happened to Danny?’ I used to joke around and say, ‘He married Charlie McGee from Firestarter and they had these amazing kids!’ But I did sort of wonder about it. – (from EW)

One of the central features of The Shining was Jack’s Torrance’s battle with alcoholism. As with the real world, King’s fictional realm notes that alcoholism runs in families. And one of the criticisms of The Shining was that the possibility of Jack considering getting some help from AA is never even raised. If King has ever considered that to have been an oversight, I have not seen that interview. But it is clear that he has given the matter some thought.

    Jack Torrance never tries Alcoholics Anonymous. That is never even mentioned in "The Shining." He has what they call white-knuckle sobriety. He's doing it all by himself. So, I wondered what it would be like to see Danny first as an alcoholic, and then see him in AA. (from an NPR Interview)

It gives nothing away to let you know that Danny is a true Torrance. Not only does he self-medicate to quiet the terrors that still haunt him, he is far from the best person he can be.

    I knew if I did this sequel I’d have to try to put together some of the same elements, but at the same time I didn’t want to make it too similar. I didn’t want to make Danny a grown up with kids of his own, and try to replicate that whole losing-your-temper-because-you’re-drunk thing. But I did think to myself: ‘Not only alcoholism can be a family disease, but rage can be a family disease.’ You find that the guys who abuse their children were abused themselves as kids. That certainly fit Danny as I knew him. – from EW

All SK novels require a baddie, or a set of them. No disappointment here. King has again succeeded in taking the ordinary and making it horrifying.

    Driving back and forth from Maine to Florida, which I do twice a year, I’m always seeing all these recreational vehicles — the bounders in the Winnebagos. I always think to myself, ‘Who is in those things?’ You pass them a thousand times at rest stops. They’re always the ones wearing the shirts that say ‘God Does Not Deduct From a Lifespan Time Spent Fishing.’ They’re always lined up at the McDonald’s, slowing the whole line down. And I always thought to myself, ‘There’s something really sinister about those people because they’re so unobtrusive, yet so pervasive.’ I just wanted to use that. It would be the perfect way to travel around America and be unobtrusive if you were really some sort of awful creature. – from EW

This wandering band call themselves The True Knot. They feed on the essence of those gifted with the sort of talent people like Danny possess. It provides them with extraordinary longevity, but as with their Transylvanian counterparts, the need is ongoing and the supply is limited. Like right-wing politicians they are more than happy to gorge on the pain of others and are shown here feasting on the spirits set adrift on 9/11. The usual condiments for this substance they call steam will not do. The taste and benefit is enhanced, however, if their victims endure extreme and prolonged torture. Does Ted Cruz drive a Winnebago? King gives the members Damon Runyon-esque names, like Crow Daddy, Steamboat Steve and Tommy the Truck.

And what of our young heroine? Abra is born with a shining of prodigious proportions. (btw, the name Abra was inspired by Abra Bacon, a character in East of Eden) She manages to send out a signal even when she is newly arrived. She’s a good kid, despite scaring her parents on occasion with tricks like making all the silverware in the kitchen take to the air, or causing the odd earthquake when she does a mental Bruce (or if you prefer, David) Banner. Don’t make her angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. Bad-ass teen girl power fuh shoo-uh. But, just as Danny needed Dick Hallorann and Tony, Abra needs help as well. That she and Danny will team up is a foregone conclusion.

As for Danny, the shining never left him, despite his attempts to wipe it out with spirits of a different sort. But he finds the help he needs and manages to put his talent to good use. He works in a hospice, the Helen Rivington House, in Frazier, NH, easing the transition for those near death, with the assistance of a resident feline, and earning himself the name Doctor Sleep, which also serves to remind us of what his parents called him.

    …It is this moment of transition that Doctor Sleep deals with and the idea, like so many of King's, came from an incidental story in a newspaper. This one was about "a cat in a hospice that knows when people are going to die. He would go into that patient's room and curl up next to them. And I thought, that's a good advertisement for death, for the emissary of death. I thought, 'I can make Dan the human equivalent of that cat, and call him Doctor Sleep.' There was the book." – from an interview in The Guardian

King has a bit of fun, naming the cat Azzie, short for Azreel, the archangel of death. Cute.

What else do you need, really? Dark vs light, colorful baddies vs our everyman and everygirl. And that is indeed enough. But it is not all that King uses. He gives us a look at how people can really help people overcome, or at least handle their problems. When asked, in the NPR interview, whether his AA depictions were from personal experience, King says that the second part of AA stands for Anonymous, so he declined to offer a yes or no, however

    You could say, having read these two books and knowing that I was a very heavy drinker at the time that I wrote "The Shining," and I haven't had a drink in about 25 years now - you could draw certain conclusions from that…I've done a lot of personal research in these subjects. - from NPR interview

AA figures very large in this story, is central really. And the wisdom one can find in AA permeates the novel, from the importance of recognizing that we need help from others, to accepting our past and dealing with it, a very strong, serious element.

King sets the time of the events by referring to external realities, like who the president is, calls on contemporary cultural references, such as a mention of the Sons of Anarchy and a Hank Wiliams Jr song. He also mentions a variety of other writers in his travels, some approvingly, (John Sandford, George Seferis, Bernard Malamud, Bill Wilson) some not so much (the authors of the Twilight and Hunger Games series, and Dean Koontz and Lisa Gardner, although he may merely be playing with the latter two). He also drops in an Easter egg reference to Salem’s Lot and make two references (that I caught anyway) to his son, Joe’s, imagined world from Joe’s book, NOS4A2.

It has been my experience with reading Stephen King that his conclusions sometimes offer a poor partner to the journey one takes in reaching them. That is much less the case here. The ending is not an alien spider disguised as Tim Curry with bad fashion sense or alien young playing with humans in a ham-fisted manner. And the journey is indeed fun. But I had some gripes. King gives Dick Hallorann a cameo here, which was fine, and the strongest of those. Tony returns for a look-see but goes alarmingly quiet at crucial moments. We could have used a lot more about Tony other than the weak explanation that is offered near the end. If the True Knot are so bad-ass, how come there are so few of them? There is an explanation offered of prey-predator stability of numbers, but I found that unpersuasive. And why the hell introduce. This is one that actively irked.

Sequels present a danger. One of the things that is stimulating about any book, any story is newness. That is why most sequels are not as popular as their predecessors. It is hard to avoid a been-there-done-that problem when working atop existing material. The next story in line is unlikely to retain the sparkle, the shine of what went before. Given the constraints, Doctor Sleep fares better than most as a follow-on. There is enough distance in the story from the events of the past, and little enough overlap with those characters that the story seems fresh. When events from The Shining are mentioned, they do inform the current action and do not distract much. In fact there could have been more of that. So, in that way, this is a very nice addition. There is another element involved. Any event, any activity, is a product of the thing itself and of the perspective from which we view or participate in it. I read The Shining many years ago. I was an adult then, in my late twenties, and remember it as a VERY SCARY story. I have not come across much in horror lit that is still scary in that way, in the several decades since. I will not have any nights (on in my case days) of lost sleep because of the images King has proferred. But then, I am getting on, and am looking at those scary things with aging eyes. Someone younger (which would be almost all of you reading this) might find them far more frightening than I did.

So while Doctor Sleep might not cause much by way of lost rest, it is good, mainstream Stephen King and thus, hardly a snooze. The Doctor of Horror is in. Wake up!
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Once upon a time, there was a girl. She liked to read, but was at a crossroads between being too old for childish books, and a bit too young for cheesy romance novels with Fabio on the cover. The girl loved scary movies and all things horror and wondered if maybe there were things written like that. She asked the librarian, who handed her a book. The girl ran home and closed herself up in her room.
 She sat down and started to read a book called Carrie, by an author named Stephen King. She devoured that book and went on to read every single book by her new favorite author, including those under the name Richard Bachman. When those ran out, she explored different authors like Koontz, Saul, Cook, and Crichton, just to name a few. So many doors were opened and so many journeys taken, worlds explored, over many years. Maybe I'll get back to this story a bit later.
When I heard that Doctor Sleep was coming out I immediately pre-ordered it on Amazon. I rarely do this, but for King I tend to make exceptions. Finally, the other day my Kindle got a present.
I'll admit, for the first 15% of the book it was a bit slow for me. I started to panic, envisioning Under the Dome, which sits on my kindle shelf. A book that I've tried to read twice, without success. I didn't want Doctor Sleep, which features one of my favorite characters, to fall by the wayside and have the same fate. Luckily it picked up and I was trapped in the pages.
Doctor Sleep is said to be The Shining 2. While some parts of this may be true, for the most part it's a standalone. You do not have to read The Shining to read this. Read it anyway because it's fuckawesome. There is no spooktastic Overlook Hotel, it has long ago perished. The only real connection between the two books is Dan, our main. Dan, who was a five year old scared little boy in The Shining, now a man. A man who is a fucked up alcoholic hot mess.
The villains aren't ghosts of a haunted hotel, but beings (like vampires, I guess), who kill children who Shine. Sucking up their essence as they die.
I won't say more about the story. I'm not here to give a full blown play by play, because in essence, then why would you need to read the book?
I can say this. If someone who had never read Stephen King, asked me if this should be their first book, I would say no. I would send them the direction of Cujo or Pet Sematary, or Carrie, Salem's Lot. This is a quieter Stephen King. It is not a horror story. There's no hiding under the blankets or checking the drain in the bathroom, looking for a creepy clown named Pennywise. The bad guys aren't scary. More like washed up. Shadows of what a bad guy should be. Stephen King knows how to write villains. Randall Flagg, Pennywise, Cujo, a baby named Gage, even a prison guard named Percy. I repeat, this is really not a horror story.
For those of us who have read The Shining, what a joy it was to see some characters we loved from that book. I wish Tony had more of a story, I'm always curious about him. Perhaps a book for Tony, Mr. King?
For me, reading Dan again was like meeting an old friend after many years. He was forever frozen as a boy in my mind. Now he has come full circle. When you finish a book, normally that's it. Time goes on, you read new books, get involved with new characters. They, in turn, become frozen. What a gift to be able to revisit a character after all this time.
My final thoughts. I highly recommend this book. If you're holding out because you haven't read The Shining, don't. Doctor Sleep is well written, snarky at times as only Mr. King can be, and will suck you in. I even cried once or twice, yes, from The Master of Horror.
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A very good Stephen King book.

I went to see a concert last year featuring Joan Jett, Cheap Trick and Heart. Promoters called it the Hall of Fame tour because all three bands were in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a great show, we had a blast. I got the impression that any of these talented professionals could put on a great show in their sleep. They’ve been doing it so long that they knew their craft as well as how to win over a crowd.

Stephen King is also a wily old master craftsman who knows how to grab a reader and hold him entranced for hundreds of pages. Hell, he’s practically a genre unto himself now, leaving behind the Horror and Fantasy schools for a stage just for him. And while I would agree that he, like Joan Jett and Ann Wilson, could put on a great show without trying very hard, I think he did put some extra effort into Doctor Sleep, his 2013 sequel to his 1980 masterpiece The Shining.

While this takes off from where The Shining left off and then goes on to tell its own story, this is in many ways an amalgam of many of his best stories and returns to many of the themes that have made him one of our most successful writers. I noticed elements of Pet Sematary, Firestarter, and The Dead Zone. Besides trying to scare the heeby-jeebies out of us, King explores themes of family, life and death, extra sensory perceptions, and the demons that haunt us, paranormal and mundane.

King, a recovering alcoholic, wrote The Shining as an alcoholic and Doctor Sleep speaks from this mature, embattled perspective. Sadly, but fittingly, little Danny Torrance becomes too much like his father and has succumbed to his inherited drinking problem. King shares with us, no doubt from much of his own experience, how Alcoholics Anonymous helps Dan Torrance survive and thrive in sobriety, but also shares Dan’s rock bottom and how this hidden secret gnaws at Torrance as much as the ghosts form the Overlook Hotel. In this way, King provides an allegory for secrets held and like so much of his writing, finds the horrific without delving too far into fantasy. We are our own worst enemies – and nightmares.

Years after the tragedy at the Overlook, Dan Torrance is making his way from childhood to alcoholic despondency to an edgy and fragile temperance. Like most recovering alcoholics, he takes his life one step at a time, and one day at a time. And his gift of shining remains. Using his special abilities to help dying patients in a hospice, he has come to the sobriquet of Doctor Sleep. It is here that Dan discovers a young girl who makes his shining look dim by comparison; as his is a flashlight, hers is a light house. Dan also discovers an antagonistic group who feed on human suffering, and the suffering of those with the shining is their most cherished delicacy.

Rose the Hat. Leading this group of psychic vampires is one of King’s most devilish and engaging characters. From Northern Ireland (centuries ago – drawing on the vampire parallel) Rose was once Irish Rose, but now in her leadership role, she is Rose the Hat, appearing with a cocked to one side old top hat. King has made a good living on making bad guys scary and evil and in Rose he has given us one of his most dire, giving old Barlow a run for his money.

So I raise my lighter to you, Mr. King, great show.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16130549-doctor-sleep?ac=1

The Shining by Stephen King

Stephen King - The Shining 01 - The Shining


4.18  ·  Rating details ·  840,916 Ratings  ·  15,341 Reviews
Jack Torrance's new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote...and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.
The Shining by Stephen King  download or read it online for free
The Shining by Stephen King

“Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.”

“Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.”

“This inhuman place makes human monsters.”

“The world's a hard place, Danny. It don't care. It don't hate you and me, but it don't love us, either. Terrible things happen in the world, and they're things no one can explain. Good people die in bad, painful ways and leave the folks that love them all alone. Sometimes it seems like it's only the bad people who stay healthy and prosper. The world don't love you, but your momma does and so do I.”

“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”


“The tears that heal are also the tears that scald and scourge.”

“But see that you get on. That's your job in this hard world, to keep your love alive and see that you get on, no matter what. Pull your act together and just go on.”






Reviews


This scene from Friends pretty much sums up my feelings about this book:


"Rachel: Hmm. (she opens the freezer) Umm, why do you have a copy of The Shining in your freezer?

Joey: Oh, I was reading it last night, and I got scared, so.

Rachel: But ah, you’re safe from it if it’s in the freezer?

Joey: Well, safer. Y'know, I mean I never start reading The Shining, without making sure we’ve got plenty of room in the freezer, y'know.

Rachel: How often do you read it?

Joey: Haven’t you ever read the same book over and over again?

Rachel: Well, umm, I guess I read Little Women more than once. But I mean that’s a classic, what’s so great about The Shining?

Joey: The question should be Rach, what is not so great about The Shining. Okay? And the answer would be: nothing. All right? This is like the scariest book ever. I bet it’s way better than that classic of yours."
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If you have not read The Shining already do not overlook the opportunity presented by the publication of Doctor Sleep, the sequel, to revisit one of the best ghost stories of our time. The appearance of the follow up offers a perfect justification for stepping through those bat-wing doors for the first time. 
It has been a lifetime since I read The Shining for the first time, over thirty years ago. I enjoyed it then for its effectiveness in telling a scary, no, a very scary story. Reading it now is colored, as is all of life, by our accumulation (or lack of accumulation) of experience. We see, or appreciate colors, textures, shapes, structures, and feelings with more experienced, educated eyes. We have seen, or are at least aware of real world things that are scarier than any fictional spectres. So, what does it look like through old, cloudy lenses?

It remains a very scary story. The things that stand out for me now are not so much the deader rising up out of a bathtub to pursue a curious child, although that is still pretty creepy, or the mobile topiary, which still works pretty well at making the hair on one’s neck and arms stand at attention. But King was using the haunted house trope to look at more personal demons. And those shine through more clearly now.
He had some drinking issues at the time he wrote the book, when he was 30, and concern about that is major here. Jack Torrance is an alcoholic, no question. He also has issues with anger management, not that the little shit he clocks while teaching at a New England prep school didn’t have it coming. He did. But one cannot do that to a student, however deserving, and expect to remain employed for long. His little boy, however, most certainly did not deserve a broken arm. Jack is very remorseful, and wants to make things right. He manages to get a gig taking care of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado over the winter. It will offer him a chance to get something right after a string of getting things wrong, offer a chance to save his marriage, and offer an opportunity to work on his unfinished play. Risky? Sure. But a gamble worth taking. And his wife, Wendy, agrees, despite having serious misgivings. There are no attractive alternatives.

Of course, we all know that the Overlook is not your typical residence. Odd things happen, sounds are heard, thoughts from somewhere outside find their way into your mind. Jack is targeted, and boy is he vulnerable.

But five-year-old Danny is the real key here. He is the proud possessor of an unusual talent, the shining of the book’s title. Danny can not only do a bit of mind-reading, he can also see things that other people cannot. And for a little guy he has a huge talent. He also has an invisible friend named Tony with whom only he can communicate.

It is difficult to think about the book without finding our mental screens flickering with the images of Jack Nicholson in full cartoonish psycho rage, the very effective sound of a Big Wheel followed by a steadicam coursing through the long halls of the hotel, and the best casting decision ever in choosing Scatman Crothers to play Dick Halloran. By the way, the hotel is based on a real-world place, the Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado. And the Overlook’s spooky room 217 was inspired by the supposedly haunted room 217 at the Stanley.
The room number was changed in the film to 237, at the request of the Timberline hotel, which was used for exterior shots. There is so much that differentiates Kubrick’s film from the book that they are almost entirely different entities. The differences do require a bit of attention here. First, and foremost, the book of The Shining is about the disintegration of a family due to alcoholism and anger issues. How a child survives in a troubled family is key. The film is pretty much pure spook house, well-done spook house, but solely spook house, nonetheless, IMHO. There is considerable back-story to Jack and Wendy that gets no screen time. You have to read the book to get that. Jack is a victim, as much as Wendy and Danny. You would never get that from the slobbering Jack of the film. The maze in the book was pretty cool, right? I liked it too, but it does not exist in the book. I believe it was put in to replace the talented topiary, which is the definition of a bad trade. There is significant violence in the book that never made its way into Kubrick’s film, but which very much raises a specter of domestic violence that is terrorizing real people living in real horror stories. There are a few lesser elements. Jack wielded a roque mallet, not an axe. Danny is not interrupted in his travels through the corridors by Arbus-like twin sisters. And the sisters in question are not even twins. Thereare plenty more, but you get the idea. An interesting film, for sure, but not really the most faithful interpretation of the book. King saw that a film that more closely reflected what he had written reached TV screens in 1997, with a six-hour mini-series version.
Irrelevancies of a personal nature
The opening shot was filmed on the Going–to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park in Montana. I have had the pleasure (7 times in one visit) and recommend the drive wholeheartedly. It is a pretty narrow road though, so you will have to drive carefully. Bring along the appropriate musical media for the best effect, Wendy Carlos’s Rocky Mountain, and dress warmly. It was below freezing when I reached the top of the road, in August. Some exteriors for Kubrick’s film were shot at the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. I visited but did not stay there back in 2008. Sadly I do not have any decent personal photos from the place. I can report, though, on a bitof kitsch. There is a place in the hotel where an ax is lodged in a block of wood, with HEEEEERE’s JOHNNY on the ax, a tourist photo-op. And yes, I did. Sadly, or luckily, the shot did not come out well, so you will be spared.

Back to the book, Danny’s talent is a two-edged sword. He is afflicted with seeing more than anyone his age should have to see, but on the other hand, he has a tool he can use to try to save them all. Whether he can or not is a core tension element here.

King is fond of placing his stories in literary context. He peppers the text with references to various relevant books and authors. I expect these are meant to let us know his influences. Horace Walpole, author of The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic classic, is mentioned, as is Shirley Jackson, of Hill House fame. King had used a quote from this book in Salem’s Lot. A family saga rich with death and destruction, Cashelmara is mentioned as are some more contemporary items, like The Walton Family, the idealized antithesis to the Torrance Family, Where the Wild Things Are and novelist Frank Norris. The primary literary reference here is Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, which is cited many times. There had been a costume ball back in hotel’s history and it is the impending climax of that party, the unmasking, that looms here. And toss in nods to Treasure Island and Bluebeard for good measure.
King often includes writers in his work, avatars for himself.

    I write about writers because I know the territory. Also, you know it's a great job for a protagonist in a book. Without having to hold down a steady job, writers can have all sorts of adventures. Also, if they disappear, it's a long time before they are missed. Heh-heh-heh. – from an AOL interview 
Jack Torrance is a writer as well as a teacher. The play that Jack is writing undergoes a transformation that mirrors Jack’s own. In fact, there is a fair bit or mirroring going on here. Jack’s affection for his father as a kid was as strong as Danny's is for him. His father was an abusive alcoholic. While Jack is not (yet) the monster his father was, he is also an alcoholic with abusive tendencies.
I never had a father in the house. My mother raised my brother and I alone. I wasn’t using my own history, but I did tap into some of the anger you sometimes feel to the kids, where you say to yourself: I have really got to hold on to this because I’m the big person here, I’m the adult. One reason I wanted to use booze in the book is that booze has a tendency to fray that leash you have on your temper…For a lot of kids, Dad is the scary guy. It’s that whole thing where your mother says, ‘You just wait until your father comes home!” In The Shining, these people were snowbound in a hotel and Dad is always home! And Dad is fighting this thing with the bottle and he’s got a short temper anyway. I was kind of feeling my own way in that because I was a father of small children. And one of the things that shocked me about fatherhood was it was possible to get angry at your kids. (from the EW interview cited in Extra Stuff)
He’s right. I have had the pleasure and I know. Wendy gets some attention as well, as we learn a bit about her mother, and see Wendy’s fear that she has inherited elements of her mother’s awfulness.

Not everything shines here. There are times when five-year-old Danny seems much older than his tender years, even given his extraordinary circumstances. It struck me as surprising that there is no mention of anyone suggesting that maybe Jack might attend an AA meeting. But these are like single dead pixels on a large screen.

If you want to read horror tales that are straight up scare’ems, there are plenty in the world. But if you appreciate horror that offers underlying emotional content, and I know you do, my special gift tells me that The Shining is a brilliant example of how a master illuminates the darkness.
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Quite simply put, The Shining is the best horror story I have ever read. It scared the hell out of me.

Over a period of time, I have noticed certain standard "motifs" in horror stories. One of these I call "The Lost Child". Such stories will typically involve a child, who can see what the silly grownups cannot see (or, even if they do see, don't acknowledge because it goes against reason and logic): and who fights, however high the odds stacked against him/ her are. Danny Torrance is such a boy.

Danny can read minds. He can see the frightening thoughts inside his Dad's and Mom's heads ("DIVORCE", "SUICIDE") but is powerless to do anything about it. Danny does not know that he has a gift; he takes it as a matter of course, until Dick Halloran of the Overlook Hotel tells him that he "shines on".

Jack Torrance, Danny's Dad, reformed alcoholic and struggling writer, is trying to put his life back together after a tragedy. He gets what he sees as the ideal chance when he lands the job of caretaker of the Overlook Hotel for the winter. In the snowed-in hotel with only his son and wife Wendy, Jack assumes that he will get enough quality time to be with his family, patch up old quarrels, and write that breakout novel.

But the Overlook has other plans. The hotel, which feeds on and grows in strength from the evils committed on its premises, wants Danny-permanently-to join its crew of ghostly inhabitants. And to do that, it needs to get to Jack...

The novel slowly grows in horror, starting with mild unease, moving up through sweaty palms and dry mouth, to pure, gut-wrenching terror. Jack's slow slide into madness is paralleled by the growth in power of the hotel's dark miasma, and Danny's extraordinary capabilities. We are on a roller-coaster ride into darkness.

The world of grownups is often frighteningly incomprehensible to young children: these fears seldom die as we grow up, but remain dormant in our psyche. There are very few of us who does not have a ghost in our childhood somewhere. It is when the writer invokes this ghost that story gets to us. King does a masterly job of awakening that child, and putting him/ her in the midst of childhood terrors through the alter ego of Danny Torrance, lost in the cavernous corridors of the Overlook.

There are a lot of passages which literally creeped me out in this novel (the topiary animals, the fire hose in the corridor, the woman in the bathroom to name a few). As King has said elsewhere, the monster behind the door is more frightening than the monster slavering at you: this book is full of such monsters. More importantly, you will keep on remembering your own boogeymen while you are reading; and long after you finish, you will feel the urge to look behind you.

Horror stories are a form of catharsis. As King says, the writer takes you to the body covered under the sheet: you feel it, and are frightened. At the same time, you are relieved that the body is not you.
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About as perfect a haunted house story as can be, King was at his best here.

It's as though he built a haunted house and then filled every nook and cranny with detail. King is also at his best in regard to characterization, all well rounded and complete, we know family relationships, group dynamics, all the old hidden buried fears.

King touches base with psychological elements, theological, metaphysical, spiritual, and cryptic aspects of a ghost story to wrap the reader in a blanket of horror.

** I watched the 1980 Stanley Kubrik film recently and this made me want to reread the book (which I need to anyway). Kubrik's film grasps the psychological elements of the book and delivers an extra large thin crust The Works pizza of haunted house horror. Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance is still the defining image of this tortured man. While some critics have derided the slow pace of the film (atypical for jump-out-and-yell-BOO! horror fliks of the time) I felt that Kubrik was building the tone and mood of the story to the grisly final moments. King himself has attributed mixed emotions to the film as an adaptation, but has consistently agreed that the imagery of an internal struggle with the dark side of Jack's psyche is a contribution to the horror film genre. King also disagreed with the casting of Nicholson who too closely identified with insanity (due largely to his exceptional work in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Interestingly, King himself was battling alcoholism while writing the classic and viewing his work and Kubrik's vision from this perspective adds greater depth to an understanding and appreciation of both.
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His best book is 'The Green Mile,' but since it doesn't quite fall under the Horror category, it is either 'Shining' or 'Carrie' which take top prize.

There is not one single detriment to this well-known tale of the disintegration of the American family within the realm of the un-dead. King here is as he has never been since: metaphoric and concise. He usually adds fact upon useless fact that converts a 400 page work into something more gargantuan, &, therefore, less enthralling.

King is not a fan of the Kubrick film, and it is easy to see why. His story is about the build up of tension, the "shining' a catalyst that promotes a bridge between the haunts & the humans. The boiler burns, blows everything up just as Jack Torrence forgets his humanity and becomes an ego/id complex. His selfishness & his alcoholism (a hereditary illness... another theme about family "curses," and weak threads) leads to savagery. The ghosts are the manifestations of a child's bruised home-life and the suffocation and claustrophobia have more to do with that tragic past than the hotel's eerie interior.

I place this masterpiece next to 'The Exorcist', a tale that is more than just a simple tale of demonic possession. To say the 'The Shining' is just a ghost story is something Kubrick ran with... completely ignoring the pathos of a family eating away at itself. The Torrences suffer because they had been broken prior to the stay at the Overlook... it seems that for this one all the stars aligned and all the ingredients for one of the most amazing horror stories of all time mixed exquisitely. This one was the one that made King king.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11588.The_Shining?from_search=true

Black House by Stephen King

King, Stephen - Black House


3.99  ·  Rating details ·  45,332 Ratings  ·  1,282 Reviews
Black House by Stephen King download or read it online for free
Black House by Stephen King
Twenty years ago, a boy named Jack Sawyer travelled to a parallel universe called The Territories to save his mother and her Territories "twinner" from a premature and agonizing death that would have brought cataclysm to the other world. Now Jack is a retired Los Angeles homicide detective living in the nearly nonexistent hamlet of Tamarack, WI. He has no recollection of his adventures in the Territories and was compelled to leave the police force when an odd, happenstance event threatened to awaken those memories.

When a series of gruesome murders occur in western Wisconsin that are reminiscent of those committed several decades earlier by a real-life madman named Albert Fish, the killer is dubbed "The Fisherman" and Jack's buddy, the local chief of police, begs Jack to help his inexperienced force find him. But is this merely the work of a disturbed individual, or has a mysterious and malignant force been unleashed in this quiet town? What causes Jack's inexplicable waking dreams, if that is what they are, of robins' eggs and red feathers? It's almost as if someone is trying to tell him something. As that message becomes increasingly impossible to ignore, Jack is drawn back to the Territories and to his own hidden past, where he may find the soul-strength to enter a terrifying house at the end of a deserted track of forest, there to encounter the obscene and ferocious evils sheltered within it.



Reviews


I hate that the first thing you see of a review is the number of stars it's given.

Someone's feeling about a book is not easily reduced to a five-point scale. And even once that is done, how do I know what five stars means to you? How do you know what five stars means to me?

For me, a five star book is a book that I believe is worth the time and energy you're going to spend reading it.

If, (and this is key) you're into that sort of book. (Horror, Mystery, Fantasy, Hardcore Gothic Gypsy Steampunk.)

A six-star book, is a book that I believe is worth your time and energy even if it's *not* the sort of thing you're into. (Generally speaking, this is the sort of book I'll give a promotional blurb for.)

Unfortunately, there isn't a six star option here on goodreads.

Generally speaking, a four star book is one that irritates me or disappoints me in one or two moderate ways.

A three star book has several moderate irritations, or one big one, or or something that was irritating all the way through.

Keep in mind that I can be extraordinarily critical of my books. Things that irritate me might not ever even show up on your mental radar.

Further complicating things is the fact that sometimes I'm willing to give a book a bonus star due to extenuating circumstances. If the writer is doing something new and exciting, for example. If they're trying something really difficult or if it's their first book, I'll often give an extra star.

So. To the point. Did I enjoy this book? Yes. I didn't know there was a sequel to the Talisman until I saw this in an airport a week ago. I enjoyed reading it. Held my attention. Pleased me with its craft.

Is it for everyone? No. So here's the breakdown.


** What I personally liked about this book:

It was told in present tense, and done well. Not a lot of folks can pull that off.

The narrator was almost an active character, almost like a tour guide through the story. He/she speaks directly to the reader at points, saying things like, "Let's see what's going on over at the old mill..."

Again, it worked well. Extra points for that.

Also, it was set in Wisconsin. Which is kinda fun for me.


**What you might like about this book:

Everything that you normally like about Steven King's stuff. Interesting characters. Alternate worlds. Nice tie-in with the Talisman and the Dark Tower stuff.

Nice description. Nice special effects. Nice tension and suspense. Nice characterization.


**What you might dislike about this book:

It's a large, rambly story. A lot of the book is spent in atmospherics, developing non-essential characters, and digressions, rather than action and moving the story forward.

The Talisman was a cool adventure story. A young boy goes out, explores a strange world on a quest to save his mom.

This book isn't that. There's no real adventure. They don't even get into the other world until the last 80 pages or so.

Children in danger. (I'm sensitive to this, having a kid now myself. It can be a dealbreaker for some folks.)

Extreme potentially even gratuitous violence and gore. (But again, we're in the horror genre, so....)

So there you go. Isn't that better than some arbitrary number of stars? Now you can make your own choice about whether you want to read it. Or not. It's up to you. 
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Each time I pick up a Stephen King book, I am struck by the different writing voice I find. Truth is, I had expected it with Black House, sort of, being co-written with Peter Straub, and yet I was struck all the same. 
King/Straub narrate much of this tale from a moving bird’s-eye perspective, floating in and out of each character’s stance and location, with a twinge of humor on the side. They don’t even try to hide the fact that this account has been written in a book, by two writers even. I thought this was funny, and I thought the style of writing was unlike many of the other King works before it. Believe me, I tried to deduce who wrote what. Was this King’s chapter, or was it Straub’s? “King-ism’s” came through of course. They always do. But overall, I could not tell. Then I found the reason why - while watching an interview of Stephen and his son Owen no less. Even they could not tell who had written what when looking back at their new book Sleeping Beauties. During their collaboration, they had edited and rewritten one other’s work along the way, thereby melding it. There was the answer.

How did Black House fare compared to The Talisman? Pretty well, I’d say. Here’s the part where I admit that I cannot remember much of The Talisman. I am bummed about that, but just a little. Although I think it’s more than a good idea to read The Talisman first, it’s not going to kill the story if you happened not to. Black House looks back at the twelve year old Jack Sawyer and his quest across America, while creating a whole new chapter in the process. Jack is now an adult with no memory of the long ago journey to save his mom’s life. (Don’t worry Jack, I forgot too!) But his memory will return, and with it will come the recollection of that other world called The Territories. And as I read about his recollection, these words came through:

    ”There are other worlds than these.”

That is not a line taken from Black House, although it could easily be one. The quote belongs to Jake Chambers from The Gunslinger. I bring this up because the story of Black House fits so well with The Dark Tower series. I don’t think there’s another book outside of the series that is closer to it than this one. The Talisman may be in some ways, but it seems to me that half the purpose of Black House is to tell a story of The Dark Tower that needed telling. Fine by me. Some of the things in those other worlds are a little bit “out there”, so to speak. Weird creatures. Wild ideas. And that’s fine too, cause the stories are always strong. Like this one.
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It's been a long time since I read this book. I remember reading it when it first came out, when I was in my late teens, and really enjoying it, but it's clear that I forgot sooo much about this book. I remember this one having more to do with the Dark Tower - but just how much, and in what detail surprised me. I almost wish that I hadn't read it now, that I'd waited until later on in my upcoming Dark Tower re-read with my bookclub, so I could read it at a more appropriate place within the Dark Tower timeline.

But oh well. Sometimes one must live with the choices that are made.

It's not really fair to call this book a sequel to The Talisman. I don't know what else to call it, because it IS that... but it sets the expectation that it will be similar to The Talisman, and it's not at all that. Talisman was an adventure, a quest, and yes, there was some dark and grim stuff in there (The Elroy Thing, Sunlight Gardener, Morgan & Morgan, etc) and but it never felt hopelessly grim and depraved. This does. Not that I'm complaining, I loved it. But this is the evil twin that has been kept in the attic and fed fish heads making its appearance after 20 years. It came from the same stock, but it's not friendly or altogether sane.

This is a dark book. It's a slow burn of a book. It's a character study book. It's a police-procedural-in-hell book. It's a Dark Tower book. It's a Stephen King book... so I don't know why anyone would expect anything less than the previous statements.

We pick back up with Jack Sawyer 20 years after we left him, and he has made a career and a life for himself as a homicide detective. He's forgotten - or blocked - all memories of his previous quest to save his mother, and has tried to live as normal and mundane a life as possible, despite the fact that he had touched the Talisman, and it conferred a lasting good luck on him that made everything he wanted to do that much easier. However, Jack has pulled the plug on his career after seeing a black man murdered on the Santa Monica Pier and it dredges up some memories of Speedy Parker - and he gets the hell out of dodge. Moves to an idyllic little town in Wisconsin and never plans to be a cop again. Except of course for the fact that Ka is a wheel and he doesn't have a choice. Someone is killing children in his new hometown, and of course nothing is ever what it seems when King's writing.

What follows is a grim, but excellent story that builds and builds. We encounter some old friends, make a lot of new ones (and more than a few enemies as well) and shit gets real. And surreal.

I don't really want to talk too much about the plot or the story because it's best if one experiences it for themselves. It is a great book, and can stand alone - though you will get much more out of this if you are familiar with Jack's history.

I loved most of the characters in this book, even the ones I detested. Wendell Green and Charles Burnside, I'm looking at you. In that order. Charles is what he is, and he does what he does and there's no punishment harsh enough for that. But for some reason, my disgust and rage really homed in on Green, and I felt like he was the most shitty person in this whole book. All of the other evils were evil, pure and simple. They wanted to kill and destroy and tear down the walls of the universe because that's what evil does. But fucking Wendell Green is just a shitty human who thinks way too highly of himself and is out for blood because he thinks that he's King Shit of Turd Hill - only nobody else recognizes that yet. He's the Rita Skeeter of French Landing. The shitty fucker. Shoulda been left for the Sisters. Just sayin'.

ANYWHO... I loved Henry and Beezer and Mouse and Jack and Dale. All of these guys make me so proud of them. Even Bear Girl, in her small, small bit part, impressed me and kind of broke my heart. She's a rock, that girl. I would have liked a bit more about Mr. Munshun and The Big Combination. I wanted a bit more about what that was FOR. Obviously it was EVIL... but just what was it powering?

Still... this is a great book, if a little tiny bit draggy at times. Like I said, it's a slow burner of a book. It takes a bit of patience, as often King's books do, but I think they pay off in the end. If I had ONE complaint, it would be the romantic element of the story. Ugh. Come on. It was unnecessary and so obvious and blah blah blah skim. Yeah, I get it, she's pretty... he's pretty... they are "interesting" and now instalove. Gag me. Leave out the instalove, and I'm golden. I could not care less.

Otherwise, excellent stuff.
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In the early eighties, Stephen King and Peter Straub embarked on the ultimate coming-of-age tale. The Talisman easily solidified the collaboration's super status. Then, nearly two decades later, they returned to their literary roots. Black House portrays a different Jack Sawyer, now a semi-retired Los Angeles detective. He won't remain there much longer, though. By requesting his expertise in a major case, a colleague-turned-friend leads him to Wisconsin, where his life will be irrevocably altered...in numerous ways.

Black House is very different from its predecessor. One of the most significant changes is the unique writing style. Almost everything's shown by way of what I like to call "an eagle's eye" view. This can be somewhat difficult and frustrating to adjust to, and I completely understand that critique. It's also a little slow at first. We're not actually reunited with Jack until the first 60 or so pages.
My first time through the Coulee Country, I struggled with it a bit, too. But it being a King novel, I knew a big payoff was inevitable.

And maintaining his "I'm retired" mindset, Jack is reluctant to aid the local police investigation of a string of grisly serial killings. It's only until a young boy is abducted that Jack agrees to assist the authorities.

With the addition of a handful of eccentric characters (including the ever positive, delightful, and beloved Henry Lyden,) we're given recurring appearances of one or more characters from The Talisman.


One new addition, named Charles Burnside, alludes to a less than pleasant childhood, leaving something to be desired. I wanted to know more. For instance, how exactly was he mistreated (presuming, of course, that was the case,) what were his parents like? Who were his parents? What events helped form the individual shown throughout the novel?
More importantly, can he be empathized with, knowing what we do about him? Should we be expected to? I felt next to nothing for him, whatsoever. Unless my utter abhorrence of him is put into consideration. That particular emotion resonates in every fiber of my being. But if I may return briefly to the aforementioned alluding, my heart does go out to him. Though all too fleeting...

How about his time in Chicago? He displays an abundance of scorn which tells the reader of his pent-up resentment. What specifically happened there, though?
That being said, I love the duality of ol' "burn, burn's" voices and/or accents. (In general, it's always a pleasure to find elements of duality in fiction, but in this case, I think King and Straub pulled it off exceptionally well.) Reminiscent of some nefarious-yet equally skilled- ventriloquist, the sequence baffles the mind in every sense of the word.

Additionally, I think I probably would have been more impacted if our killer had been less supernatural and more human.
Why do I emphasize this point? Because, as of late, I've come to realize that villains who are more less fantastical (Rose Madder's Norman Daniels or The Shining's Jack Torrance, to name a few) have a much larger affect on me.

I almost wish that the killer's identity had been withheld a bit longer. I believe if they'd done so, it would have created a much more suspenseful, biting-your-nails quality. Then again, the story's pretty dark and creepy. King and Straub probably weren't very interested in its mystery; contrarily, this story is very horror-orientated.


All throughout, a recurring theme is explored in interesting way(s:) repressed memories. This literary technique is seen in multiple characters, primarily our protagonist, Jack Sawyer.
On a related note, scientific studies indicate that particularly traumatic experiences often result in repression, as a defense mechanism. And speaking personally, I'm a firm believer. I can recall very little of my childhood.
I'm not the only one, either. King and Straub said it best: "Amnesia is merciful." Indeed.



The final showdown (and the all-important journey toward that end,) felt slightly long-winded, but the psychological aspects almost demand it. As for the battle itself, I am torn. On the one hand, it is quite phenomenal. On the other, there's a comic book quality which renders it somewhat unrealistic. As a result, I'm left with many questions whose answers I'd be interested in learning.

Then, due to unforeseen events, Jack is inadvertently transported back to his past, so to speak. By taking their story in this direction, King and Straub present a few very suspenseful closing pages. I was literally holding my anxious breath and hoping for the best. I also realized the depth of my love and admiration for this amazing man. And through certain revelations, things are left open. There simply MUST be a 3rd book!!


Jack's story isn't complete.
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I absolutely loved this book. It's funny, because I picked it up immediately after reading The Talisman, and at first I was put off by the shift in tone and feel of this one. I wanted more Talisman style fantasy adventure, with the lovable young Jack Sawyer. What I got was a cold, detached, present-tense narrative that watched everything from above and showed a landscape that was totally out of place with the book I had just finished. This is supposed to be a sequel!

But am I ever glad I stuck with it. The present voice grew to become a comfort, and as the narrator became more attached to the characters, so did I. This is still not the same book, but oh my, what a book it is.

I said that The Talisman reminded me somewhat of a blend of Lord of the Rings and Tom Sawyer. Well, for this one, throw in some Silence of the Lambs and even a touch of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The villains were delightful in how wicked-evil they could be. The heroes were flawed, yes, but so human and I couldn't help but pull for them all the way. There were even a few times near the end where I wanted to pitch the book out the window. But I couldn't, as I had to keep reading until there was no more.

I've heard that King and Straub are planning a third collaboration. After reading Black House I must say I hope they do. And I won't wait 9 years to read the next one, I can say that much.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10607.Black_House