Before I begin, I must unequivocally state that I’M YOUR NUMBER ONE FAN, MR. KING — yeah, that’s right, I was reading Stephen King novels while some of you were still struggling to comprehend the plot developments of Goodnight Moon, so no matter what I write next, just remember I’M YOUR HARDCORE NUMBER ONE FAN, MR. KING, and with that said, I’ll move to Duma Key. Most of Stephen King’s Number One Fans already know that our hero Edgar Freemantle was in a horrible construction accident that severed his arm, damaged his brain, and destroyed his marriage. On the plus side, Edgar happens to be filthy rich and can afford to get away from his demons by renting a beach house on a little isle called Duma Key where he discovers his hitherto unknown artistic talent. Enter weirdness through the paint canvas as the ether world and a host of memorable characters begin to play their roles. However (ah, but for the inevitable “but”) something was missing for me.
Mr. King’s earlier novels were written with the stacatto beat of heavy metal but now move with the fluidity of a symphony, and though I love the way he’s always seeking new ways to work with words, Duma Key was a little too neat. I never felt the tenseness or the terror in Duma Key that I loved in his earlier novels, ‘Salem’s Lot, for example, which I still read with one eye gauging the shadows of my room. Everyone in Duma Key knows something strange is happening, and they’re all just a little too agreeable to help curb the evil. (Well, gosh darn, Willie, I reckon there’s a ghost out there. Well, by golly, Bob, let’s go out and kick some spectral tushy; you get the flashlight and I’ll grab the thermos!) A good contrast would be ‘Salem’s Lot, which was so horrific because no one in the town wanted to admit there was something wicked in their way; they were all too busy hiding under their beds. I found Duma Key to be very well written, albeit a little too long for my tastes, but like all of Stephen King’s novels, great comfort food for the brain!