Book Review: Mr. Mercedes

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.

Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

I’m super late to this party, having finally read Mr. Mercedes just about three years after its publication. Why did I wait so long? No idea… but I’m glad I convinced myself to pick up the paperback that’s been sitting on my shelf for so long.

In Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King introduces us to a wonderful main character, Bill Hodges — a retired detective with nothing much to do except watch TV and fiddle with his gun, until he’s contacted by an elusive mass murderer who lives for the destruction he causes. As Hodges becomes reenergized by his search for the killer, he risks himself, his allies, and possibly thousands of lives to track down the psycho before he strikes again.

The plot is so tight and exciting that it’s impossible to look away. I sped through the story, because it’s one of those books where you just need to know what’s next and what’s after that.

I loved the main character and his two unlikely sidekicks, and found the chapters told from the killer’s perspective utterly chilling and convincing. Ick. Inside Brady’s head is not a healthy place to be. I also loved the shout-outs to King’s earlier works, as well as the mention of Judas Coyne from Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box.

I can’t wait to continue with this trilogy! Stephen King is my go-to guy for when I need a book to keep me company while traveling, and he never lets me down. Mr. Mercedes is a winner. A must-read for King fans, of course (and why did I ever doubt that?), but also just a great crime thriller for anyone who enjoys the intensity of the genre.
_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Mr. Mercedes
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: June 3, 2014
Length: 436 pages
Genre: Thriller
Source: Purchased

Novella: Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

The little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told… until now.

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground. From a bit farther away comes the chink of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball as the Senior League kids practice for the Labor Day charity game.

One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy: “Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me.”

On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…

Whoosh. I read this novella all in one sitting… and I think you will too. Stephen King fans will just eat this up. It’s a quick story that casts an eerie spell, just the right length to sink its unsettling claws into your brain.

I wouldn’t call it horror, exactly. There’s very little outright blood or gore, although bad things do happen. Most of the tension and horror is psychological, as we see what happens to Gwendy after that fateful encounter at the top of Castle View.

The strange man gives Gwendy an oddly beautiful box, with eight differently colored buttons on top and levers on the sides. He shows her the levers: One dispenses a tiny piece of chocolate, which will be absolutely delicious, but which will also eliminate her cravings for junk food. The other lever dispenses a rare old silver dollar in perfect condition. As for the buttons on top, the man provides cryptic explanations, and then entrusts the box into Gwendy’s care.

And soon, her life begins to change. Gwendy at 12 is a little on the heavy side, and she’s determined to reinvent herself before starting middle school in the fall. Between her daily runs up the Suicide Stairs, and her new-found freedom from the lure of desserts and sweets, Gwendy gets in better and better shape. Is it Gwendy’s own effort paying off… or does the box have something to do with it?

Other positive changes soon follow. Gwendy’s vision improves to the point where she no longer needs glasses. She becomes a star athlete and a top student. Boys want to date her and girls want to be her friend. Her parents’ over-indulgence in alcohol seems to dwindle away with any noticeable effort. But the box is still there, hidden away for safe-keeping, and Gwendy never quite manages to get it out of her thoughts or to stop wondering what would happen if she actually pressed any of those colorful buttons.

Man, this is a good story! Even though Gwendy’s life gets better and better, there’s a dangerous undercurrent that plagues her — and us. What’s the price of all this good fortune? And who will pay it?

I don’t want to say much more. It’s a quick novella that can be read in one gulp, which is really what I recommend. There’s something about getting from start to finish without breaking the disturbing mood that lends the story even more power.

Gwendy’s Button Box is a must-read for King fans (which probably goes without saying) — but really, anyone who enjoys a tightly woven plot with an air of mystery and dread should check it out.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Gwendy’s Button Box
Author: Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Publication date: May 16, 2017
Length: 175 pages
Genre: Horror
Source: Purchased

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Thursday Quotables: Bag of Bones

quotation-marks4

Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

Bag of Bones

Bag of Bones by Stephen King
(published 1998)

I seem to be on a Stephen King tear right now, probably because it’s summer, and somehow King’s brand of writing ends up being my perfect choice for beach reading. (What does that say about me???) I really loved Bag of Bones and the creepy mood sustained throughout.

That’s enough, a voice in my mind said uneasily. That’s enough, now. Go on back and get your car.

Except that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to go down the driveway, just as I had in the final dream, the nightmare. The plan was to prove to myself that there was no shroud-wrapped monster lurking in the shadows of the big old log house down there. The plan was pretty much based on that bit of New Age wisdom which says the word “fear” stands for Face Everything And Recover. But, as I stood there and looked down at that spark of porch light (it looked very small in the growing darkness), it occurred to me that there’s another bit of wisdom, one not quite so good-morning-starshine, which suggests fear is actually an acronym for Fuck Everything And Run. Standing there by myself in the woods as the light left the sky, that seemed like the smarter interpretation, no two ways about it.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

Save

Save

Thursday Quotables: The Long Walk

quotation-marks4

Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

Long Walk2

The Long Walk by Stephen King
(published 1979)

I read this book on vacation last week, and it gave me chills in all the right ways! How had I never come across this book until now? I love so much about it, including the fact that I can flip it open to a random page and immediately find a paragraph to share for Thursday Quotables:

Garraty became entranced with the coming dawn. He watched as the sky and the land lightened by degrees. He watched the white band on the horizon deepen a delicate pink, then red, then gold. The guns roared once more before the last of the night was finally banished, but Garraty barely heard. The first red arc of sun was peering over the horizon, faded behind a fluff of cloud, then came again in an onslaught. It looked to be a perfect day, and Garraty greeted it only half-coherently by thinking: Thank God I can die in the daylight.

Such a creepy, haunting read!

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

Save

Save

Vacation reading wrap-up

I just spend a glorious 10 days on vacation! Glorious, because VACATION. Also glorious, because my husband and I traveled to two beautiful southern cities, Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, ending with a few days of utter relaxation at Hilton Head Island, doing not much more than sitting on beach chairs, wading in the ocean, and basking in the sun.

Oh, and did I mention reading? Because I did a little reading. Enough to cause darling hubby to shake his head at me a few times and lovingly call me ridiculous.

Here’s a quick wrap-up of what I read on vacation, with my take on the vacation-worthiness of each book. The number of little beach umbrellas reflects my own personal feelings about whether or not this is a good choice for tucking into your beach-tote!

sun-151763_1280

RainwaterRainwater by Sandra Brown: Set during the Depression in drought-stricken Texas, this is the story of a single mother who runs a boarding house while caring for her autistic son, and the stranger who comes to stay and ends up changing both of their lives. I’ll admit that I never would have picked this up if it weren’t my book group’s pick for July. It looks and feels like the kind of book you’d pick up in a supermarket check-out line. That said, I was surprisingly engrossed by the story. Rainwater‘s depiction of the historical setting was very interesting, and I learned a few things about the time period that were completely new to me. That may make the book sound stuffy, and it’s not. The love story is sweet and passionate and unexpected, includes some strong commentary on social justice issues, and has an ending at once tragic and uplifting. The writing isn’t exactly literary, but it’s a quick and compelling read.

Vacation ratingumbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrella

 

sun-151763_1280

Liam1Liam2Fire and Ice and So Sure of Death, books 1 & 2 in the Liam Campbell series by Dana Stabenow. Big surprise for anyone who reads my blog from time to time — I’m a huge fan of Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series, and have gotten far enough into that series that I needed to detour into her related series about Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell. The Liam books did not let me down in the slightest, and are perfect vacation reads: Fast-paced, great characters, unusual settings, mysteries that kept me engaged, and personal relationships that are fresh, believable, and utterly engaging.

Vacation ratingumbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrella

sun-151763_1280

Sandcastle GirlsThe Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian: This is a heartbreaker of a story, a historical novel focusing on the Armenian genocide of 1915, as seen through the eyes of a young American woman who travels to Aleppo to offer aid and assistance to survivors. Elizabeth’s eyes are opened by the horrors she witnesses, while at the same time, she discovers love in a most unexpected place. The historical elements are framed by a modern-day woman’s exploration of her grandparents’ histories. The modern-day story felt more like a distraction to me, as what really gripped me was the story of Elizabeth, Armen, and the other supporting characters we meet in 1915. The Sandcastle Girls is powerful, beautiful, and devastating, and is a must-read — and yet, I don’t think I’d recommend it as a vacation read. It’s an amazing book, don’t get me wrong, and I think everyone should read it — but the seriousness of the subject matter and the unrelenting suffering portrayed here don’t jibe very well with beach umbrellas, flip-flops, and cold fruity cocktails. Read this book — but read it at home.

Vacation ratingumbrellaumbrella

 

sun-151763_1280

Crooked HeartCrooked Heart by Lissa Evans tells the story of a young boy evacuated from London during WWII. Noel is an odd little duck, and when his eccentric godmother/guardian dies, he’s left without a soul to care for him. Vee is a con woman who schemes to earn a little cash because she really has no other way of supporting her deadbeat son and her doddering mother. Vee takes Noel in so that she can collect the fostering fee for housing evacuees, but the two soon find that his brains combined with her slippery ethics make for successful money-making. This is an unusual and offbeat story, with a lot of charm, plenty of humor, and lots of heart-tugging sentiment too. The historical setting is nicely conveyed, and the mood is sincere and sometimes sad, but never so heavy as to make reading it a drag. I definitely recommend the book, and I enjoyed it while swinging in a hammock.

Vacation ratingumbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrella

 

sun-151763_1280

Long Walk2The Long Walk by Stephen King: Ooooh. This is a good one. I’d never heard of this book, one of King’s earlier works (written under his Richard Bachman pseudonym), until I saw Bonnie’s review on For the Love of Words (check it out here — great review!). In The Long Walk, 100 teen-aged boys participate in a walk that continues until only one is left standing… because all the others are dead. The boys start at the Maine/Canada border, and walk. That’s it. They walk — and walk, and walk, never falling below a 4-mile-per-hour pace, because if they do, that’s a warning. And after three warnings, the next infraction means you’re shot to death by the armed guards who travel alongside the walkers. The boys never stop, not to eat, sleep, or pee. If they fall or pass out or get a cramp, that could mean the end. Wow, is this a disturbing book, and yet it’s so, so good. Meanwhile, the boys who walk talk and reflect and learn the truth hidden inside the deepest, darkest corners of their hearts and minds. Why they walk is only explained at a surface level (there’s a Prize), but it’s clear without ever being explicitly shown that this is an alternate version of the United States in which watching a group of boys walk to death is high entertainment, and which is bleak enough that the 1 in 100 shot at the Prize is enough to get more or less sensible boys to bet their lives.

You might think that all this makes The Long Walk too dark for a vacation read… but no. Stephen King is pretty much always perfect for vacation. The fast-paced storytelling and immersive experience makes you happy to glance up and see the sun still shining. It’s horror, but (oh, this makes me sound like a bad person) totally fun horror.

Vacation ratingumbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrella

 

sun-151763_1280Blue AsylumBlue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall: I loved this book! Set during the Civil War, this historical novel tells the story of Iris Dunleavy, a young woman who somewhat blindly enters into a marriage with a plantation owner, only to realize that his cruelty is more than she can bear. When she attempts to expose his crimes, he instead has her declared insane and sends her away to an island asylum to be “cured” of her irrational defiance and delusions. While there, Iris meets Ambrose, a Confederate soldier haunted by his wartime experience. Iris and Ambrose fall in love, but Iris’s determination to escape with her lover and start a new life is doomed from the start. It’s a haunting and tragic love story, beautifully written, with an unusual setting and a memorable and well-defined cast of supporting characters. I just adored this one. Sad? Yes. And still, I consider it a great vacation read. The asylum is set on Sanibel Island off the coast of Florida, and the descriptions of the beaches, sea, birds, and sky give Blue Asylum a feeling of sunshine and freshness, even when the plot makes me want to cry.

Vacation ratingumbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrella

 

sun-151763_1280

And that’s my vacation reading wrap-up! As you can see, I read some amazing books — not all are books I’d describe as beach reads, but not a single dud among the bunch.

If I had to pick one to recommend the most, I’d say definitely check out Blue Asylum. For anyone who loves historical fiction, powerful love stories, and strong female lead characters, this is a can’t-miss book.

Shelf Control #39: The Green Mile

Shelves final

Welcome to the newest weekly feature here at Bookshelf Fantasies… Shelf Control!

Shelf Control is all about the books we want to read — and already own! Consider this a variation of a Wishing & Waiting post… but looking at books already available, and in most cases, sitting right there on our shelves and e-readers.

Want to join in? See the guidelines and linky at the bottom of the post, and jump on board! Let’s take control of our shelves!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

My Shelf Control pick this week is:

Green MileTitle: The Green Mile
Author: Stephen King
Published: 1997
Length: 536 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk the Green Mile, keeping a date with “Old Sparky,” Cold Mountain’s electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities in his years working the Mile. But he’s never seen anyone like John Coffey, a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. In this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about Coffey, a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefs… and yours.

How I got it:

I bought it!

When I got it:

I picked up a copy at one of the more recent library sales, definitely within the past year or two.

Why I want to read it:

It’s Stephen King! I feel like The Green Mile is one of those holes in my reading history, something that a true King fan would have read years ago. Confession: I’ve also never seen the movie. To be honest, prison stories do not appeal to me, but like I said, it’s Stephen King, and I feel like I’m missing out.

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link below!
  • And if you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and have fun!


For more on why I’ve started Shelf Control, check out my introductory post here, or read all about my out-of-control book inventory, here.

And if you’d like to post a Shelf Control button on your own blog, here’s an image to download (with my gratitude, of course!):

Shelf Control

A Mini-Review for a Mini-Book

Blockade BillyI picked up this small book for a dollar at my library’s big book sale last month. Awesome find, right? I’ve been going to the library sales for years, and it seems that I come home from each one with at least one new Stephen King book to add to my collection.

Blockade Billy is a slim hardcover containing two novellas, the title story plus another called Morality. The whole thing was a quick read, so from that perspective you could call it light reading, although the subject matter is definitely lacking in rainbows and kitties.

The first story, Blockade Billy, is (obviously, based on the cover) a baseball story. Not being much of a baseball fan, I didn’t expect to like it — but I did. The story is told in the first person by an old man who once coached a not-very-good major league baseball team. As the man tells the story to his listener, Mr. King (!), we enter the world of 1950s-era baseball. A young catcher joins the team to fill in for an injured player, and surprises everyone by being a fantastic player, even though he seems a little off in the head. After a glorious start to the season, Billy’s achievements and the team’s winning streak were struck from the record books. Why? Read the story to find out!

In Morality, we meet Chad and Nora, a couple in their 30s with mounting bills and little chance of paying them. When the elderly stroke patient in Nora’s care makes her an offer to earn a big pile of cash, the couple faces a moral dilemma. Shades of Indecent Proposal? Kind of. It’s disturbing to find out what the old man wants, and to see how and why Chad and Nora agree to his plan, as well as how they deal with the aftermath.

image

My copy… enjoying the sunny weather.

I ended up enjoying both stories, probably Morality more than Blockade Billy. Is enjoying even the appropriate word? Probably not, as both stories are disturbing. What’s great (again, not really the appropriate word) about both is that they’re not horror stories. The bad things that happen are driven by human nature, desires, and impulses. It’s people doing evil, not evil beings inflicting pain on ordinary people. There’s something sad and fascinating about watching the drama unfold in both of these stories — and of course, Stephen King is the master of keeping the reader guessing as a story builds. We may not have all the details until the end, but we’re hooked from start to finish.

If you’re a King fan and you haven’t read Blockade Billy, pick up a copy when you’re looking for a bite-sized book to pass the time with.

Note: As I finished writing this post, I found out that both of these stories are included in Stephen King’s new book of short stories, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, published in November 2015. And while I’m not usually a short story reader, I’m thinking I might need to make an exception for this collection.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Blockade Billy
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: May 25, 2010
Length: 132 pages
Genre: Adult fiction
Source: Purchased

Shelf Control #23: The Color of Magic

Shelves final

Welcome to the newest weekly feature here at Bookshelf Fantasies… Shelf Control!

Shelf Control is all about the books we want to read — and already own! Consider this a variation of a Wishing & Waiting post… but looking at books already available, and in most cases, sitting right there on our shelves and e-readers.

Want to join in? See the guidelines and linky at the bottom of the post, and jump on board! Let’s take control of our shelves!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

My Shelf Control pick this week is:

Colour of MagicTitle: The Color of Magic
Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 1983
Length: 210 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In the beginning there was…a turtle.

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried though space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules.

But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard…

 

How I got it:

I picked up a copy at a used book store — where else?

When I got it:

It’s been years. I’d forgotten that I owned a copy until I took inventory last summer!

Why I want to read it:

Discworld feels like a big gaping hole in my reading life. I loved Good Omens, and I’ve loved all the other little tastes I’ve gotten of Terry Pratchett’s writing. Discworld is so vast that I’ve let myself feel too intimidated to ever actually get started, but I think I need to just jump in and give it a try. I’ve gotten lots of different advice about suggested reading orders for the series, but I figure I might as well start right at the beginning.

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link below!
  • And if you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and have fun!


For more on why I’ve started Shelf Control, check out my introductory post here, or read all about my out-of-control book inventory, here.

And if you’d like to post a Shelf Control button on your own blog, here’s an image to download (with my gratitude, of course!):

Shelf Control

Shelf Control #22: Lisey’s Story

Shelves final

Welcome to the newest weekly feature here at Bookshelf Fantasies… Shelf Control!

Shelf Control is all about the books we want to read — and already own! Consider this a variation of a Wishing & Waiting post… but looking at books already available, and in most cases, sitting right there on our shelves and e-readers.

Want to join in? See the guidelines and linky at the bottom of the post, and jump on board! Let’s take control of our shelves!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

My Shelf Control pick this week is:

Lisey's StoryTitle: Lisey’s Story
Author: Stephen King
Published: 2006
Length: 513 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Every marriage has two hearts, one light and one dark.

Lisey knew it when she first fell for Scott. And now he’s dead, she knows it for sure.

Lisey was the light to Scott Landon’s dark for twenty-five years. As his wife, only she saw the truth behind the public face of the famous author – that he was a haunted man whose bestselling novels were based on a terrifying reality.

Now Scott has gone, Lisey wants to lock herself away with her memories. But the fans have other ideas. And when the sinister threats begin, Lisey realises that, just as Scott depended on her strength – her light – to live, so she will have to draw on his darkness to survive.

 

How I got it:

I bought it when it first came out, a brand-new hardcover edition.

When I got it:

In 2006, right when it was published.

Why I want to read it:

It’s Stephen King! Not that I’ve read all of his books (or even come close), but I’m always at least interested in seeing what they’re about. This one really sounded terrific and creepy, plus the cover is gorgeous (the red dust cover lifts off to reveal really wildly colored flowers underneath, as I recall). I have so many unread Stephen King books on my shelf, but I think this is the only hardcover, and it makes me feel guilty knowing that I splurged and then never read it!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link below!
  • And if you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and have fun!


For more on why I’ve started Shelf Control, check out my introductory post here, or read all about my out-of-control book inventory, here.

And if you’d like to post a Shelf Control button on your own blog, here’s an image to download (with my gratitude, of course!):

Shelf Control

Take A Peek Book Review: Revival by Stephen King

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little “peek” at what the book’s about and what I thought. This week’s “take a peek” book:

revival

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price…

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.

My Thoughts:

It’s really impossible to quibble with Stephen King. He’s a master writer, and even in his lesser works, his gifts shine through. But for me at least, Revival is a step down from some of his more recent brilliant novels.

Revival is never dull, but it does take a very long time to truly start building momentum. I was at the 200-page mark before I began feeling any urgency in my reading. Perhaps the problem lies in starting the story with Jamie as a six-year-old. A great deal of time is spent on his childhood and adolescence, and while these years matter in the overall story, it’s a very slow build.

The ending is nightmarish, no doubt about it. And yet, I never felt a strong sense of where this story was going. There isn’t a whole lot of black and white, good and bad. The bad guy isn’t, strictly speaking, a real bad guy. The climax is a bit out of the blue, although hints pile up prior to the big event. Jamie himself is an interesting character, and while I was invested in him and his ability to turn his life around, I didn’t quite buy the obsession with Charlie Jacobs or the level to which he influences Jamie’s life.

I enjoyed Revival, and lost a lot of sleep after finishing it at one in the morning. Yes, by the end I couldn’t put it down, and found it intensely creepy and unsettling. Still, overall, I wouldn’t rank it among the Stephen King books that I routinely describe as masterpieces. This feels second-tier to me — but even so, second-tier King is still better than so much else that’s out there, and if you want a book that blends boyhood nostalgia with the most awful feeling of impending doom, you really can’t go wrong with Revival… or pretty much anything else King has written.

(PS – Completely irrelevant to discussion of the merits of this book… but Outlander fans will be amused by the presence of characters named Jamie, Claire, and Brianna in Revival.)

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Revival
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: November 11, 2014
Length: 403 pages
Genre: Horror
Source: Purchased