Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bag of Bones

The summer of Stephen King continues! Well not really, but damn if I don't have a lot of King novels from the 1990's that I never got around to reading. The latest is "Bag of Bones" (529 pages) which I'm sure I never even cracked open when I most likely received it as either a Christmas or Birthday present years ago. From Goodreads:

"Stephen King's most gripping and unforgettable novel, 'Bag of Bones,' is a story of grief and a lost love's enduring bonds, of a new love haunted by the secrets of the past, of an innocent child caught in a terrible crossfire.

Set in the Maine territory King has made mythic, 'Bag of Bones' recounts the plight of forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan, who is unable to stop grieving even four years after the sudden death of his wife, Jo, and who can no longer bear to face the blank screen of his word processor.

Now his nights are plagued by vivid nightmares of the house by the lake. Despite these dreams, or perhaps because of them, Mike finally returns to Sara Laughs, the Noonans' isolated summer home.

He finds his beloved Yankee town familiar on its surface, but much changed underneath - held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, who twists the very fabric of the community to his purpose: to take his three-year-old granddaughter away from her widowed young mother. As Mike is drawn into their struggle, as he falls in love with both of them, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of ghostly visitations, ever-escalating nightmares, and the sudden recovery of his writing ability. What are the forces that have been unleashed here - and what do they want of Mike Noonan?"

I was extremely surprised how terrific a read "Bag of Bones" turned out to be. In fact I would probably rate it as one of King's better novels.

The good:

The story for one. The book stayed true to itself throughout, a fairly normal yarn, well normal for a ghost story. There really wasn't much of King's silliness that I've complained about in recent recaps. The haunting of Mike Noonan is powerful both in the sense of the supernatural and the emotional. Very intriguing and laid out well.

Initially the story begins in Derry, Maine and even has a couple of cameos from characters from "Insomnia" which I found cool since I had just read that particular novel.

The characters are real and fleshed out well. Though we've seen these archetypes before, especially in King novels, they work well in the environments created here.

The bad:

The pacing of the novel early on was a little frustrating but once the story takes off it really gets going. There were also a couple of dream sequences that were a little repetitive that I could have done without.

The ugly:

There's a couple of really nasty scenes toward the end of the book. Violence or sexual content doesn't usually bother me when I'm reading but some of it here was really horrifying and tragic.

Again, this was a truly outstanding story and effort by King. I'd probably rate it as one of my favorites of his. On par with "The Stand," "The Green Mile," and "Dolores Claiborne," just to name a couple of his stories I like really well. Recommended for fans of horror, specifically ghost stories, and fans of Stephen King (at his best).

Did anyone happen to see the made for TV movie of "Bag of Bones?" I heard it was terrible but I never watched it as I knew I'd be reading the novel soon.


Brilliantly Blonde said...

Never saw the tv show, but I read this book a looonnnnggg time ago...I'm going to guess in the early to mid 90's!! It wasn't one of my favorites. I was more of a fan of Dolores and the one about the author who wrecks his car in the mountains and is held prisoner by a psychotic fan...I can't remember what it's called.

Get started on Gatsby. You can thank me later.

Dave said...

Um Misery? Great movie too...